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Tata Steel provided solar powered lift irrigation project helps tribal farmers to be self-sufficient in Bamnipal area

Bamnipal, September 11, 2017

In the villages around Tata Steel’s Ferro Alloys Plant (FAP) at Bamnipal in Keonjhar district, people mostly depend on agriculture for their livelihood. With the intervention of FAP, the farmers, mostly tribal women who take a lead in farming in the area, are gradually making a better living now.

Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) are the corner stone of this intervention. Total 145 SHGs are now associated with the programme. The best example of it is Jhumka Patia village of Rahansola panchyat under Harichandanpur Block. A solar powered lift irrigation system has been installed on the natural stream flowing through the village. The SHG members used the irrigation facilities of this environment friendly renewable power source. They were trained on mulching and drip irrigation technologies by the experts roped in by Tata Steel Rural Development Society( TSRDS), Bamnipal unit and its partner NGO Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiative ( CINI).

Ms. Phula Murmu of Jhumka Patia, one of the beneficiaries says, “Earlier, villagers would cultivate very little and had to carry water from the stream for irrigating the plants. But after the introduction of the lift irrigation system we just need to switch on the solar-powered motor and water flows down the pipes. That has changed our life. “ Seven members of Maa Saraswati SHG, of which Mrs Murmu is a member have sold vegetables and fruits, like watermelon, brinjal, chilli, worth more than one lakh seventy thousand rupees in this season. They cultivated vegetables in 3.5 acres of land and harvested a bumper crop and they plan to increase the cultivable area to 7-8 acres in the coming year.

Around 600 tribal women of the villages associated with SHGs are using modern farming technologies guided by agri-experts who have been roped in by TSRDS and CINI. Earlier the tribal families have been cultivating vegetables but the produce was not enough to make it profitable after meeting their own needs.

With an aim to improve productivity of land through improved irrigation facilities and enhance capabilities of the tribal women farmers by imparting them training in modern farming methods, Tata Steel in partnership with CINI, a national level NGO has been carrying out livelihood interventions in Bamnipal area since September 2014. Presently the coverage area has gone up to 20 villages in three blocks of Harichandanpur, Ghasipura of Keonjhar district and Danagadi of Jajpur district touching lives of more than 1,650 families.

Other than the families who increased their produce through solar powered drip irrigation facilities, there are also other farmers who are being trained and empowered in sustainable agriculture methods. Through such training in last financial year a total of 373 households got benefitted in paddy cultivation, 585 in commercial vegetable production, 195 in horticulture, 235 in Tasar rearing and 652 in goat rearing in the villages around Bamnipal from Panchyats like Rasol, Tangariapal, Kiajhar, Deulakana, Radhikadeipur.

FAP, Bamnipal is committed to keep on taking more similar steps for the inclusive growth of the area. However the farmers, it is already working with, are now empowered to look after their interests and follow modern methods of farming.