Odisha Organisation Brings Electricity To Remote Villages, Empowers 50,000 Famers
According to a Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households in 2019, small and marginal farmers holding less than one hectare of land are now becoming wage workers. They are abandoning their farms for various reasons including lack of water, improper storage, and marketing facilities.
Pragati Koraput, an Odisha-based organization has been working for the socio-economic well-being of tribal communities, small and marginal farmers, in the most fragile landscape of Odisha, India since 1994.
Prabhakar Adhikari, the founder of the organization, in conversation with CSRBOX says that they primarily work in two districts, Koraput and Navrang.
He says, “Our efforts revolve around principles of conservation, utilization, and management of natural resources, reviving and rebuilding sustainable agriculture practices to provide income security and better livelihood.”
Recently, Pragati Koraput was selected as the winner of the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize 2022 in recognition of its efforts to use natural energy to not only solve water problems but also reduce environmental impact. The organization will receive prize money of Japanese Yen 2,000,000.
Solving water woes
Five years ago, Prabhakar noticed that hilly regions such as Koraput and Navrang would receive ample rainfall round the year. But farming was not practiced in those regions.
“The people living in these areas were migrants who would move away to distant cities in search of income opportunities. This was because the rainfall would never be stored for agricultural purposes. Since the terrain is hilly, the water would run downhill,” says Prabhakar.
This prompted him to launch an initiative that helps the people in that region store water and use it for agricultural purposes. Further, he decided to provide them with agricultural support such as training in vegetable cultivation, providing free saplings, and more.
“To collect water, the first solution we launched was Rainwater Harvesting Systems (RWHS). Secondly, to use this collected water for watering the fields, solar-powered pumps were installed. These initiatives were carried out under a project named - Half-acre farm model,” says Prabhakar, adding that some households even received solar-powered lights.
The installation of solar panels and RWHS were done with the help of government schemes, funds provided by various agencies, and a startup named KARMA Tech, launched by graduates of IIT-Bhubaneswar.
Benefitting 50,000 farmers
The farmers under this project cultivate rice, millets, and other vegetables. They are also given support to market the same. Prabhakar says that the organization also conducted training to empower women in the same communities.
He says, “They were trained in micro-entrepreneurship programs to make by-products from the farm produce and package them.”
To date, over 50,000 farmers have enrolled in the program and benefited from the same. Further, Prabhakar hopes to expand the initiative to other remote communities in Odisha. However, to scale up, he requires help from agencies to fund his work.
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