Agri Business

DROUGHT - TELANGAN: ASurvival of the smartest

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on January 15, 2018 Published on April 03, 2017

MACS’s board meeting at Turkapally in Yadadri district; (right) farmer Jitta Balreddy’s pond near Bhuvanagiri

Farmer Jitta Balreddy’s pond near Bhuvanagiri

Heartening stories of farmers who beat the odds

The Board of Directors of Swara Bharati Mutually-Aided Cooperative Society (MACS) began its meet at 10 am sharp on March 30 in its small office at Turkapally in Yadadri district.

The five-hour-long discussion, punctuated by a lunch-break, could rival the board meeting of any big corporate in terms of seriousness of agenda and depth of discussions.

On the agenda that day was the finalisation of accounts for FY17, allegations of diversion of funds by a money collector and the plans for the new financial year.

When hostile weather hits, it’s very difficult for farmers to salvage a crop season. However, small interventions can make a change, at least in some areas. MACS offers some of drought-hit Telangana’s survival stories.

The 23-year-old women’s Society is making a difference in two mandals of Yadadri district, a perennially dry area. MACS, after starting off with just a handful of people, now has 210 groups in 20 villages with a savings kitty of ₹3 crore.

Loan disbursal

“Our annual turnover is ₹10 crore,” MACS Chairperson Lakshmi told BusinessLine. “We give loans to our members after discussing the proposals in the respective groups. Based on the eligibility and need, we sanction a loan up to three times a member’s savings.”

The members mostly seek loans to buy cattle or fund their husbands’ farm input purchases.

As against 36-48 per cent interest rates being charged by private money lenders, the group offers loans at 18 per cent.

“But they (the members) get back-up to half of what they pay in the form of returns as a member in the group,” she says.

M Janardhan, Executive Director of voluntary organisation Pilupu (which helped the women form MACS), says the Society has links with banks to provide bank accounts to the members, and to extend financial support, if need be.

“All the book-keeping work and management of the groups are done by the underprivileged women. It helped the families weather the financial vagaries,” he points out.

Yet another survival story is Jitta Balreddy, a journalist-turned-farmer, who has come up with the novel idea of developing a tarpaulin-topped pond in his 5-acre farm near Bhuvanagiri.

Every drop matters

“I have spent ₹43,000 in designing and building the pond in the centre of the farm. I collect water from the feeble groundwater source and use it for my paddy field whenever it needs and horticulture crops using a dip system,” he says.

He says the tarpaulin laid underneath the water would help stop seepages, saving every drop of water. “It helps in salvaging the water crisis,” he says.

Published on April 03, 2017
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