JSW Foundation Transforms Livelihoods of Farmers in Palghar District of Maharashtra
JSW Foundation is working with the Government of Maharashtra to overcome challenges in various villages of Palghar district. Since 80% of the population in the district is tribal, certain inherent occupational and social factors lead to acute problems in areas of health and agriculture. From tracking, malnourished children for offering them requisite healthcare facilities and mid-day meals, to long term solutions for improving farming techniques of tribal farmers, the JSW Group has intervened to target the root cause of these issues. Let’s look at an agricultural initiative that changed the lives of farmers in Kogda village.
In the Kogda village of Jawhar taluka, which is home to 98% tribal population, there was a time when farmers were solely dependent on rainfall for a good yield. However, over a period, land holding of farmers in the village is low and crop productivity levels are below average due to adoption of traditional agricultural practices. Though the region receives 3000 mm rainfall, the hilly terrain and subsurface basalt rock, rainwater flows through seasonal streams resulting in high soil erosion. Despite the three masonry check dams, built for irrigation by the state agriculture department in 2001, the village faced water scarcity with insufficient supply for the fields, especially during dry spells in the rainy season. Due to unseasonal rainfall in the past few years, silt has been deposited into the field, but desiltation work had not been carried out even once in the last decade.
Mahadu Sakharam Bhoye, was one of the many farmers in Kogda who had to make ends meet due to poor farm yield. His life took a positive turn with JSW’s agronomic intervention, which aimed at improving the quality and quantity of farm produce and livelihoods in the region. Following the initiation of the project by JSW, ICRISAT and Rural Communes, two check dams were desilted in the village. The farmer later applied all the removed silt (approximately 250 tons) in his barren land of about 0.404 hectare (ha), thereby transforming wasteland into a highly fertile one and got an excellent yield of 1400 kg paddy for 0.404). As a result, he was able to harvest vegetable crops such as brinjal, chili and pulses like pigeon pea. While the cost of cultivation was only Rs 2,500 - much lesser than what he spent earlier, his net income from paddy alone was Rs 21,000 - an amount which was unthinkable for him in the past. With improved variety of chickpea (JG11) in 0.050 ha, the farmer received 45 kg at a net income of Rs 1850. The below grid gives an in-depth picture of Bhoye’s transformed harvest.
|Yield (kg)||Rate (Rs.)||Net income (Rs.)|
Extremely thankful with JSW’s intervention on his farm, Bhoye is surprised to witness the benefits he got from the application of silt in his barren land. Today, not just him, but all 11 members of his family have taken on farming as a profession and begun earning profits. While the Bhoye family has decided to apply the same technique in their other fields, the farmer has gone on to motivate others to follow the same for increased productivity. Furthermore, given his newly-acquired expertise on the farm, he represents Kogda in the 12-member watershed committee formed by six villages of the Jawhar taluka.
Bhoye believes that applying silt on wasteland can help retain lost fertility of soil, along with rejuvenation of old water holding structures because of which water table of the land will increase. Nature is often overlooked, though it continues to selflessly give us so many precious things. We need to nurture the environment towards building a sustainable world and this farming technique is a definitive example of utilizing ‘nature for the development of nature itself’.