Agri Business

There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel for tribal farmers

LN Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on October 07, 2020

Govts of TN, AP and Karnataka have associated with companies like Lawrencedale Agro Processing (LEAF) for imparting best cultivation practices to enable tribal farmers get better returns

Life has never been easy for small and marginal farmers, but the struggles of tribal farmers appear worse. With no title deeds for their land (farm) holdings or access to markets, finance or education, the tribal farmers have managed to survive all hardships and challenges for generations, even while remaining blissfully ignorant of what is happening outside their comfort zone.

“Every day is a struggle,” concedes Gunasekar, 52, a marginal farmer from the Badaga community in the remote Western Ghats. He had no clue about the new farm Bill or its implications.

Gunasekar is not alone. There are various tribal communities such as Valmiki and Gadhaba in the Western and Eastern Ghats, whose plight seemed similar.

Most of these people live in extreme poverty; have no access to basic needs, and have none to voice their plight to the powers that be. Accessing their terrain is also not easy.

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These tribal people eke out their living by growing horticultural crops, collecting medicinal herbs and forest produce for traders and by selling some stuff in the local shandy.

“This gloom is all set to change,” says Palat Vijayaraghavan, Chief Executive, Lawrencedale Agro Processing India Pvt Ltd(LEAF), highlighting the efforts being made by the governments of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for extending comprehensive support to tribal and marginalised farmers.

While stating that public-private-partnership (PPP) is crucial for integrated agriculture development, he also noted that inking an agreement would not suffice, as with a change of guard (government), policies and officers also change, resulting in a setback at every stage.

LEAF has aligned with all these three State governments, taking up the cause of tribal farmers aggressively, the founder of LEAF said, adding “be it the remotest part of Western Ghats or the highly inaccessible locations of Paderu deep in Eastern Ghats, we are on a mission to bring livelihood improvements to tribal farmers.”

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“These folks neither have access to proper education nor technique to improve the quality of farm produce. It is in this context that the State governments have associated with companies like ours for imparting best cultivation practices, to enable tribal farmers get better returns,” Vijayaraghavan said, highlighting LEAF’s community farming interventions, scientific advisories and forward market linkages for its member farmers.

“Our aim is to bring positive impact to 30 lakh farmers over the next three years and there are various tribal communities which are badly in need of comprehensive support. The capacity is phenomenal,” he said.

Published on October 07, 2020

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