Chronicle of Change

BIOGAS- The Boon

Dattubhau and Vaishali Chauhan of Ridhora village in Seloo taluka, are a poor landless  couple who are determined to improve their lives. Vaishali had to trudge long distances to collect firewood for fuel. As their livelihoods  depended on labour work, time lost in collecting basic necessities left them with less tine for  income generating activities.

Although they had no resources, they constructed a Biogas Plant after getting support from KJBF. Dattu collected cattle dung from the village to put into the biogas plant in the beginning. Now they have two cows and are planning to get two more with KJBF's support. Vaishali is now happy that she will not have to walk long distances and carry back breaking loads of fuelwood from the forest. Thanks to the biogas, she has got a contract to cook for the Balwadi. The Biogas has indeed come as boon to this couple who are an inspiration to other farmers because of their hard work, determination to succeed and ability to take risks in investing for a better future.

 

Ensuring a better tomorrow…

Ramrao Chandravanji Khadse is a 60 year old farmer in Ratnapur village, Deoli Taluka. He is the head of a large family of 8 members including his sons and their families. Two grand children are studying in high school and college. Ramrao's assets include 16 acres of land, four cows, four oxen, two buffaloes and six calves.
Out of the total 16 acres of Ramrao's land, 12 acres of land is productive. Eight acres of the productive land is irrigated while the remaining four acres are rainfed. Four acres of his land is wasteland. Due to the problem of submergence of his field, Ramrao was able to grow only one crop per annum. Waterlogging also led to soil erosion which resulted in lowering the productivity of the land. He has been traditionally growing Soyabean, Cotton, Jowar, Tur, Wheat, Gram and a few vegetables. Cotton was the only cash crop and his generated an income of around 1.5 lakh. With the water table in the region steadily dropping down, the level of water in his well was also rapidly decreasing. He was keen to improve the situation but had a limited income and no technical knowledge for solving this perennial problem.

KJBF Intervention

In 2009 KJBF entered the village and started interacting with the community on issues related to improving their livelihood options. Ramrao participated in all these meetings and also put forth the problems of the farmers to the KJBF team. After interacting with the Village Volunteers and the technical experts of KJBF, he was convinced that taking action for ensuring better water conservation and efficient water management was the only way out of this perennial problem. The KJBF team helped him select the best site on his wasteland for constructing a farm pond. The site was chosen considering the gradient of the slope and the soil type suited to give best results. The farm pond will store the rain water and prevent the field from getting water-logged. It will not only provide support irrigation to the Rabi crops, but is expected to improve the water level in the wells through ground water recharge. With support from KJBF, Ramrao has also constructed a recharge tank with filters for recharging his well. Having taken steps for water augmentation, he also adopted micro irrigation. He therefore got a drip system installed in his field. He also started using a sprinkler set. Ramrao is also one of the beneficiaries of the stream widening activity. Revival of a 1,400 m stream has been completed by KJBF in partnership with the community. The farmers are hopeful that rainwater will be harvested in this revived streambed and more of their cultivable land will now be available for agriculture instead of getting submerged. Support irrigation will also be available with water in the stream being available for a longer period of time. It is also hope that percolation of water into the ground will augment the ground water table and recharge the wells.
Ramrao has not only undertaken water development activities to improve his own prospects, but he has also played a major role in motivating other farmers in his village to improve their livelihood opportunities by taking timely and scientific help from the KJBF team.
When Ramrao was asked about how his life would change after all these interventions, he responded by saying that with the rainwater getting stored in the farm pond, the fields would not get waterlogged and he would be able to grow more crops over both seasons. With improved water availability, he was very hopeful that he would now earn a double income from his land. He also complimented the KJBF team for executing high quality work in a timely, efficient and transparent manner. He was particularly impressed by the fact that the team followed participatory processes and involved the community at all stages of the implementation process. He was also happy that efforts were made to build the capacity of the farmers to make informed choices and take decisions for a better future

Revival of the Lift Irrigation Society (LIS)

Context

Kakkardhara is an extremely remote village in Arvi Taluka, with a hundred per cent tribal population. The people are extremely poor and depend mainly on income from low grade farming, agriculture labour, wine making and selling 'Matatis' - an ornament for bulls made from the fibres of the Palash roots used during the Pola festival. Since the literacy levels are very low and the people are not well versed with marketing, they were exploited by traders.

History

Many years ago an NGO succeeded in forming a village committee called Gram Sabha, initially set up to do collective marketing of the Matatis. The collective venture enabled the poor tribals to negotiate a better price in the market and avoid getting exploited. Once the community learnt to work together, the NGO undertook developmental activities such as undertaking soil and water conservation activities, constructing Check Dams, setting up a Balwadi etc. The only source of water during the summer months was a small well on the outskirts of the village. Water from this well was used for drinking and domestic purposes. This water was also used for the animals. The NGO convinced the community to deepen and widen the well so as to have enough water for irrigation also. The community contributed labour and material and the completed the work in two years. Overcoming many struggles and objections by the Forest Department, the NGO facilitated a campaign for completing the pipeline for irrigation. The community rose to the challenge and completed the work of laying out 800 m of an irrigation channel in just two days!!The most significant outcome of this campaign was the formation of a Lift Irrigation Society (LIS) in 1989. The Govardhan Sinchan Cooperative Society with eleven committee members was registered as a Lift Irrigation Society (LIS) in order to get an electricity connection for lifting water with a pump. Nine non-members of the Users' Group were also beneficiaries of this scheme. This LIS functioned well for seven years. Byelaws for ensuring equitable sharing of the water and the smooth functioning of the group were laid out. The members of the LIS paid a fixed amount of Rs. 10,000 for the electricity regularly for the first three years. Due to some misunderstanding, the group stopped paying for the electricity and expected the Government to fully waive off the outstanding amount. The NGO too had withdrawn from the village by then and nobody sorted out the problem. As a result of non-payment of the bill, the electric connection was discontinued. For the last nine years the LIS had been defunct.

KJBF Intervention

When KJBF interacted with the community in November 2009, it came to the conclusion that:

  • There was potential for the revival of the LIS as all the infrastructure was already in place.
  • The problem created due to the outstanding electricity bill needed to be sorted out with the electricity department.
  • The members of the LIS needed to regroup and strengthen the institution to become functional once again.
  • Local leadership had to be nurtured in order to be able to sustain the village institution.

The KJBF team had a series of discussions with the community. A compromise formula was worked out. KJBF intervened on behalf of the community and negotiated a deal with the Electricity Department. Although the total pending bill was Rs. 1, 32,000 KJBF managed to get a partial waiver. According to the new agreement, the total amount to be paid for restoring the connection was Rs. 59,750/-. Rs. 12,800 came as contribution from the beneficiary farmers. KJBF extended a loan for Rs. 46,950 payable by the farmers over the next two years.  

Once the connection had been restored, KJBF worked with the members of the LIS to strengthen the institution by formulating norms for sharing responsibilities and resources. The members were given training in the areas of institution building, leadership and financial management  

KJBF has taken up a WADI project in partnership with NABARD for facilitating 1000 tribal farmers to take up horticulture in one acre plots. This revived LIS will enable the farmers to use water for irrigation for these Wadis.

Impact

The revival of the LIS enabled the community to once again benefit from all the investment made in building the infrastructure- the well, the irrigation channel etc.

The farmers' incomes are expected to improve with water being available for agriculture.

The revival of the village institution will strengthen local leadership and enable the community to take informed decisions about their own development.

The revival of the institution has also restored the confidence of the members to take charge of their own resources.

Rearing a Cow for a Better Tomorrow...

A revolving fund of Rs. 1.21 lakh was given by Shri Apoorvnayan Bajaj to provide indigenous milch cows to poor farmers or widows in the programme villages. Rearing indigenous cows which are better suited for the local environment reap multiple benefits for the household. Consumption of milk improves the nutritional status of the family. The surplus milk is sold to earn additional income.

KJBF believes that there is greater ownership and a commitment to work for improving one's own life if the beneficiary contributes in cash and or kind. Shantabai Nanaji Nehare from Vijaygopal village is a beneficiary of KJBF's Indigenous Cow programme. She received financial support of Rs. 7,000 from KJBF as interest free loan to purchase a cow. She contributed Rs. 3,000 to the total cost of purchasing a cow.

Shantabai's son runs a tea stall in Vijaygopal. Shantabai used to buy 8 litres of milk at Rs. 20/- a litre everyday from the market. Now she has to buy only three litres from the market, since five litres of milk comes from their own cow. Hence there is a saving of Rs. 100/- day. Shantabai is regularly repaying the loan she took for buying the cow. She hopes that her prospects will improve further with support from KJBF.

Water Conservation work from Chondhi Village

Diliprao Mahadev Rao Garge, 55 from chondi village has 5.5 acre of land. He has seven members in the family. He is the only one earning member in his family and engaged in the farming work. His three children are studying.

Background of Irrigation

He had dug a well 25 year back with an expenditure of Rs. 50000. The depth of the well was 30 feet and water was available at 10 feet. For last 8 years he has been observing that water table has drastically reduced. Seven year back he had again made an effort to deepen his well. He dug well up to 42 feet and still he was not getting sufficient water. He invested Rs. 24000 in the whole process after getting loan from his relative. He again made an attempt to strengthen his irrigation system 14 months back in the year October, 2008. He suffused a bore well up to 425 feet. He could not get the water. In this process he spent Rs. 38000. He was very much worried and disturbed because his cultivation was under threat and it was making his economic condition weak.

Crops

He has sown 2.5 acre cotton in his land in August 2009 and the crop was not healthy due to lack of irrigation. He was simply observing his dying cotton.

KJBF interventions

Two farm pond on the name Kamal Dhiran and Siddharth Rai has been excavated near by the well and bore well of Diliprao, diagonally opposite and the gradient of the water flow was towards well. In the November 2009 rainfall has been received. The stratum of the farm pond is murrum type –A highly demanded strata for recharge. All the water got recharged. Since then two more rainfall has been received.

Diliprao again invested Rs.20000 in electric pump, wire and pipe to check the availability of water in his borewell. He invested this amount after getting credit from a shopkeeper. He was surprised to see that he found water table at 175 feet. He has linked a single phase submersible 1 hp motor and water is being continuously stored in the well. He is delighted to see the water. He has sown gram after looking the possibility of the water.

Reinvestment and income from crop

He has earned Rs. 42000 from cotton and was hopeless to get additional Rs.39000. Due to borewell recharge he is expecting minimum Rs. 39000 from cotton, Rs.10000 from gram and Rs. 18000 from Wheat. Thus recharge of bore well has directly contributed an additional income of Rs. 67000 in the first season itself, which he was not expecting to get. Thanks to unpredictable rainfall.

He has also cultivated vegetables such as green coriander, brinjal, onion, methi palak in 2 guntha land which will fulfil families requirement and surplus will be sold.

Additional impact of the farm pond

Similarly three surrounding well have also been recharged. A complete dried well has around 3 feet water and Balunarayan rao is using it for the drinking purpose. The villagers are delighted to see water and are now inspired and enthused for water conservation measures like farm ponds initiated by KJBF. This is an impact of farm pond during unpredictable rainfall. Farmers are quit confident to get ample benefit of farmponds during the monsoon season. Many farmers have come forward and have put up their demand for the farm pond with KJBF support.