Usharmukti project was launched by BRLF ( BHARAT RURAL LIVELIHOO FOUNDATION) and PNRD( PANCHAYAT & RURAL DEVELOPMENT Department, West Bengal) for initiating a collaborative project with different CSOs working in drought prone districts in West Bengal. The main objective of the project is river rejuvenation through watershed development by adopting ridge to valley approach so that water remains in those rivers for larger period in the year. Hence more water would be available for crop production and other purposes. Block and GPs are also important stakeholder and all the work has to be done with close association with them since activities will be implemented from MGNREGS fund. Thus it would help MGNREGS more effective and create more job opportunity to ensure 100 days wage for the rural poor as well as to create an asset for strengthening their livelihood in the long run. RDA has been entrusted to work in this project in both Jhargram and Paschim Medinipur districts covering 5 blocks.
MOU between RDA and BRLF was signed on 11th August 2017.
RDA is working in 5 blocks from two different districts, namely Sankrail, Gopiballavpur 2, Jhargram block from Jhargram district and Keshiary, Salboni block from Paschim Medinipur district. Sankrail is the intensive block while rest of the 4 blocks are non intensive.
Work is going on in full swing.
Case study- 1
They started dreaming:
Name of the mouza: Lauriadam,
Lauriadam: This village is predominantly lived by SC community with very low land holding that too in upland. Large tracts of lands are lying fallow with very low moisture holding capacity though the annual rainfall is significantly high ranging from 1100 to 1600 mm per year.
In this village, UM team member had identified a patch of 4 hectors area for plantation purpose. Basically upland with moderate slope (3-4%) and the land owned by some 6 – 7 poor families which could be an ideal place for fruit plantation with 30X40 models. The land was completely barren with no hope for any production. And the most of the land owners were marginal farmer. They hardly have cultivable land for producing their own food for the year round. As per their occupation, somebody is agricultural labour, some are daily wage earners in the nearby places.
Pashupati Sau has only one bigha (42 decimal) of paddy land apart from this shared land. He works in a rice mill to earn his livelihood. Subhash Faruya doesn’t have any other land and works in brick kiln. Premchand Malik having very small patch of agricultural land and he works as agricultural labour, daily labour etc. Ashutosh Sau has a pretty business of puffed rice. SabitriPatro, widow and marginal farmer. Ganesh Mali – daily labour. These people are the owner of that patch of land.
When Gram RojkarSevak (GRS) and Dharasevak had approached them they straight away refused to give land for plantation. They clearly said that they don’t have any faith on NREGA activity, the land would go waste. After number of interaction and counseling RDA Usharmukti team along with GRS and Dharasevak was able to convince them for the work.
It was the story of 9 months ago.But after plantation of cashew along with 30X40 model in the month of July, 2018, difference was realized from October only. In other plantation site, when plant started drying, these seedlings were fresh. Now, the plant growth is also remarkable. Around 1400 no of plants are there in 4 hectors of land. Minimum 7 lakh rupees per year are supposed to come asreturn only after 5 years.
Pashupati Sau has 165 plants in 1 Acre 7 decimal land. He is expecting around 80 – 85 thousands rupees per year. Similarly, Subhash Faruya has 170 plants and expecting minimum Rs85000/- per year. Sadhon Bhuinya is expecting near about 1,15000/- per year. Premchand Malik has more plant; he is supposed to get around 200000/- per year. Ashutosh Sau is expected to get Rs 75000/- per year. Sabitri Patro, a widow woman runs her family with a great struggle; she is supposed get 47 – 50 thousand rupees per year. All of them are very hopeful to uplift their economic condition through this Usharmukti activity. We also hope for the best.
Sunil Soren – Hoping towards better tomorrow
Name of beneficiary: Sunil Soren
Name of Mouza: Sidadanga,
Name of GP: Nedabahora,
Name of Block: Jhargram,
MWS Code: 4H3A3k7 (JHAJHA028),
Name of scheme: Cashew Plantation with 30X40 model
Sunil Soren, a poor tribal of Sidadanga village. He has four members in his family comprising of he, his wife and their two sons. Though he is the owner of 6 acres of land still maximum(5 acres / 2 Hectresofit is in upland not worth of getting cultivated.He hardly gets crop from 1 acre of low-land from which he barely manages to produce only one principle meal for year round. He was working as para military force to meet his livelihood. On 2013, he got retired from his service. He bought a Tata magic van with his retirement benefit for sustaining his livelihood. Now he and his younger son looks after this pretty business ongoods transport. Per day earning ranges from Rs 250/- to Rs 300/- and on an average 10 – 12 days in each month are engaged for this activity. So hardly Rs 3000/- to Rs 3500/- could be earned from this business and along with his nominal amount of pension, he runs his family. His elder son is under graduate student, so it’s very hard to maintain his cost of living with this small amount of earning.
Earlier he tried to grow cashew on his upland but it could not sustain due to lack of proper knowledge and moisture stress at the lean season. At the time of preparation of Usharmukti DPR, dharasevak had approached him to plan for plantation on high value horticulture crop with 30X40model, because the model itself is a solution for surviving at moisture stress condition. Initially, he refused to let dig pit for water recharge, he thought this is wastage of land but with the exposure of nearby villages, he started believing a good return from his horticulture patch. In the DPR, his all 5 acres of land has been planned for cashew plantation with 30 X 40 model. At present, all of his upland has been brought under 30 X 40 model and the change is very much visible, the entire plot has been covered with green vegetation. It has been planned for cashew plantation in coming rainy season in his entire land.
If everything goes well, he will be able to earn around Rs 1.5 Lakhs from 3rdyear itself and it will gradually increase with the maturity of the plants and on 10th year it may reach near about 9 lakhs which is beyond his imagination. All GP functionaries including NS, GRS, EA are very hopeful for his economic transformation.
Update: Aug 2021
After successful completion of 4 yrs’ project in July 2021, the project has been extended for 2 more years from August 2021. The name of the project has been changed to USHARMUKTI Plus. The main focus of this project would be land and water based Livelihoods promotion and Promotion of Farmer Producers Organisation ( FPO) for enhancing Market led Development of Agricultural produces. This would help enhance the income of the farmers.