BALCO transforming farmers lives
The project ‘Mor Jal Mor Maati’ touches the lives of more than 2000 farmers in the vicinity – BALCO is empowering and supporting neighbourhood communities in achieving greater economic and social well-being as the organization firmly believes that the socio-economic development of communities is paramount and an integral part of its business operations. BALCO has a well-established history and commitment to reinvest in the social good of its neighbourhood and nation at large. The organization is positively impacting and contributing to the realization of integrated and inclusive development of the region through focused interventions in different domains of growth.
One such intervention is BALCO’s flagship initiative, ‘Mor Jal Mor Maati’, aimed at benefitting farmers by edifying them regarding modern agricultural techniques and substantiating it with resource & knowledge support to enhance the yield. The major components of the initiative include sustainable agriculture, water management, animal husbandry, fish farming, promotion of non-timber forest produce and lac cultivation.
Currently, the project reaches out to over 2000 farmers covering more than 1200 acres of land. More than 500 farmers have adopted modern agriculture techniques, which has to led to an increase in their average annual income along with increase in production by almost two times. The technical interventions have led to a reduction in input cost by 35% and today almost 60% farmers in the vicinity are using modern farming techniques. The project has also encouraged youngsters to pursue agriculture as a mainstream profession and around 25% of the beneficiaries of ‘Mor Jal Mor Maati’ initiative are young farmers. Apart from this the project also entails high convergence with respective government departments in order to ensure the benefits of government schemes and policies.
Talking about BALCO’s firm resolve towards supporting the farming community, Mr. Abhijit Pati, CEO & Director, BALCO, said, “Our farming community is the backbone of economic development in the region and nation at large. It is because of their persistent efforts that we all are being able to contribute to the expeditious development of the nation in our respective domains. BALCO has always been an organization dedicated to the upliftment and advancement of its neighbouring farming community through various technical and educational interventions. We are committed to the development of the region by introducing advanced farming techniques to our farmers.”
The farmers are being provided with support and resources in all aspects of agriculture in order to support their journey towards accelerated growth and income. In line with BALCO’s commitment to promote sustainable agriculture practices, efficient water management is being promoted by providing secured irrigation through construction of shallow bore wells (solar operated), dug wells, farm ponds, community ponds, construction & renovation of check dams. Through electric and diesel pumps, promotion of Micro Irrigation System (MIS)-Sprinkler units, MIS – drip irrigation system and renewable energy – Solar driven pumps, the farmers are being sensitized to follow water efficient agriculture.
Promotion of Systematic Rice Intensification/DSR practices, rabi crop and small-scale vegetable cultivation practices, organic farming techniques with certification process and crop protection from wild animals through fencing are the major drivers of promoting sustainable agriculture practices in the region. Apart from this, BALCO is also supporting farmers in terms of animal husbandry, fish farming and non-timber forest produce.
Institutionalizing encouragement of modern farming practices, Vedanta Agriculture Resource Centre (VARC) has been established for training and demonstrating farmers about the advanced practices. At VARC, farmers are edified about subjects like vegetable cultivation, multilayer farming, SRI, System of Wheat Intensification (SWI), trellis farming, bio-floc fish farming and hydroponics. With a view to further promote innovation in agriculture demonstration for some exotic vegetables are also be carried out as a pilot innovative project.
Currently, the project ‘Mor Jal Mor Maati’ is in its third phase, which focuses on capacity building of farmers and institutionalization of farming practices, through development of Farmer Producer Organization (FPO) which will enable them to run their agricultural practices as a commodity business.
Sharing his experience, Anil Kumar Rathiya, a farmer from village Bela, said, “We are extremely thankful to BALCO for introducing organic farming and System of Rice Intensification (SRI) methodology to us. The techniques have really helped us in reducing our input cost and increasing our yield.”
With BALCO’s firm resolve to transform the communities, the organization has emerged as a pillar of strength and support for the neighbouring farming community. One such story of transformation is Mangli Bai w/o late Maniram Viswakarma, a resident of Belakachhar village. After the death of her husband, Mangli Bai found it difficult to run her livelihood, as she had a meagre 0.4 acres of land which was used for both residential and cultivation purposes. To her fortune, the owners of nearby 1.5 acres of land agreed to allow Mangli Bai to cultivate their land without any rent and only a share of produce.
The support was provided in terms of seeds like cauliflower, radish, lal & palak bhaji, bio pesticides and fertilizers through the project for 0.3 acres of land during Rabi season. The input for the rest of the land was arranged by Mangli Bai herself. The project team assisted her with expertise and best agriculture practices. Now, in this rabi season (2022), she has already initiated to cultivate bottle gourd, cucumber, okra and green leaves in 1.0 acre of land with handholding support and technical support.
Earlier, she was doing vegetable cultivation in a small patch of land by traditional method without proper knowledge which resulted in low production and profit. Regular training sessions by the project team, enabled Mangli Bai to follow advanced procedures in land preparation, fertigation, identification of good seeds according to season and use of pesticides and seedlings with transplantation methods. With all the support Mangli Bai now goes to the daily market for selling vegetables which has enhanced her income to a great extent.
The company touches the lives of about 1.5 lakh people annually through deep interventions in education, sustainable livelihoods, women empowerment, health wealth & sanitation, sports & culture, and infrastructure development. BALCO’s social endeavours reach over 123 villages and its CSR policies and systems are framed and implemented in a manner to deliver sustainable impact on ground, making these communities an equal participant in the progress of the nation.