Agri Business

Helping farmers turn into millionaires, the Tata Trusts way

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on September 03, 2018

Leelabai Jagan Chaudhari of Sukapur village in Dhule district of Maharashtra, is like any woman farmer that one comes across in the Indian hinterland. A marginal farmer with less than 1 acre of land to till, she has been eking out a subsistence living. But not anymore. In all likelihood, in the current year, she may be able to earn a princely sum of ₹3 lakh from her 82 cents of l and.

Or take the case of Mersing Vitala Pawara, a goat herder hailing from Kusumveri village in Nandurbar district, adjoining Chaudhari’s Dhule district. While a dozen goats that he reared till a couple of years ago gave him just enough to survive, Pawara is now much sought after in his village and around for guidance on profitable goat rearing.

Beyond subsistence

Both Chaudhari and Pawara are beneficiaries of a major programme launched by Tata Trusts to take marginal farmers from the lower strata of society beyond subsistence farming. Launched around three years ago, the scheme was aimed at making at least 1,00,000 tribal farmers across four States — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Odisha and Jharkhand — earn at least ₹1 lakh or more annually from their small parcels of land.

“The project is currently on 17 blocks of four districts where more than 50 per cent of the population is tribal. The goal is to improve annual income of at least one lakh farmers from these predominantly tribal villages by 2020. The baseline surveys we carried out before the project launched in 2015 showed that annual average income of these families was between ₹40,000 and ₹50,000,” said Ganesh Neelam, who heads the project at Tata Trusts. “It is gratifying to see that annual income of around 20,000 farmers participating in the programme is already around ₹1,20,000,” he said.

Facilitating role

Among those successful farmers is Chaudhari, who graduated from archetypal cereal and vegetable cultivation to high-value horticulture. And Pawara, whose focus on scientific goat rearing practices has paid off substantially.

“Our role is mainly to facilitate and provide technical inputs. We help them in building capacities in better agricultural practices, new crop varieties, better seeds, etc. We introduce them to farm mechanisation and expose them to similar communities that have done good work. We also provide them with financial support to a smaller extent.”

Tata Trusts works mainly with women farmers and encourages them to form women federations or Farmer Producer Organisations. The programme is designed in such a way that these institutions will continue to function smoothly beyond the handholding period, building on the strengths of each of their members.

Published on September 03, 2018

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