At the time when the Coronavirus has severely impacted the livelihood of millions of farmers across the country, 100 farmers in Dungarpur, Rajasthan, are celebrating their bumper produce.
These farmers from Surata Gram Panchayat saw a produce of about 1,03,580 kg of vegetables, out of which 70,350 kg have been sold to generate an additional income of around Rs 25.38 lakh till now.
Under the aegis of ePAHAL' (Promotion of Agricultural and Horticulture for Advancement of Livelihoods), a pioneering social project by the DS Group, 100 farmers were helped and trained for "WADI" development.
PAHAL encourages the farmers to maximize the use of small land dwellings to produce seasonal vegetables and fruits in 3 tier, i.e. below the ground, at shrub level and creepers at height. Doing so allows producing more from less (land) while being more resilient to pests -- as monoculture tends to be.
WADI promotes water efficiency for farming as a tool to improve agriculture and food security for small and marginalised farmers. The objective is to introduce profitable vegetable cultivation to meet the local demand and simultaneously generate additional income for the farmers and secure their livelihood.
It also helps in resolving the issue of malnutrition and many other social and economic issues for these poor tribal families while enhancing the green cover of the area.
Livelihood improvement is one of the key focus areas of Corporate Social Responsibility by the DS Group.
Even during the crucial Covid-19 lockdown period of April and May, when the country was trying to deal with scarcity of essentials, the farmers of Dungarpur produced around 24,580 kg of vegetables and have already sold more than 17,050 kg. This generated an additional income of Rs 5.88 lakh for them.
Surata earlier was dependent on vegetables supply from Modasa, Gujarat. Now around 60 to 70 per cent of vegetables need is met locally due to ePAHAL' and the vegetables are farm fresh.
"No one wants to leave the family and search for work in neighbouring states. But we had no choice. I have to feed my children, my family. But once I enrolled for PAHAL project, my life has changed. I am able to earn substantial additional income, which has improved my living conditions. My children now go to school regularly and I am able to provide them with good food. My future is secure," says Kanti Lal, a ePAHAL' farmer.
Pari of village Dol Kunjela is happy that her husband is staying with family now and also earning good money. "PAHAL by DS Group has kept my family together. My husband used to go to Gujarat for four months in a year to work as a daily wage labourer, now, we all are staying together and we have a secure livelihood, with an additional income too," she says.
So far, 100 farmers have enrolled in ePAHAL' and another 200 tribal farmers residing in Surata and nearby gram panchayats are in the process of being enrolled.
The DS Group project team has a well set selection process that includes availability of water for the irrigation, suitable land for the Wadi, past track record of farm practices, interest for diversified agricultural based interventions and willingness to sell vegetable.
( 550 Words)