This event happened in October 2022 in Sankhilapadar village in the Kolnera Block of Odisha during a meeting of the Village Development Committee. Since the project’s inception, Ms. Karuna Bera and Ms. Aparna Jena from Prayatn have served as community mobilizers in this village. On that day also the community gathered as usual to talk about various issues of the village development. Ms. Karuna gave an overview of the initiatives the group expects to carry out in order to enhance the community, including information on the Farm Pond construction for the benefit of the farmers in the village. Suddenly, some farmers stood up and said, “If the organization is supporting us to construct a pond in our land, we are ready to contribute as much as we can.”

The team was astonished to see the interest of the community. They then proposed a site for the pond. A list of eleven farmers totalling twenty acres of land, whose land is close to the proposed pond site was compiled. Following internal deliberation, the organization chose to meet community demand. Prayatn’s Thematic Experts, Mr. Manojit Bera and Mr. Tarun Kumar, arranged a site tour prior to starting the assignment. Sadly, considering the condition of the desolate location, it seemed to them that farming would not be feasible here. Since the location was surrounded by stones, trees, and wild plants.

Farmers, however, remained steadfast and even assertive. There was hope that if water could be made available, the area might be devoted to cultivation. If not, this land will continue to exist as it is. How much water would remain in the pond and how many acres it might be intended to irrigate were unanswered questions. Nonetheless, the farmers believed that just eleven of them made construction-related contributions. Therefore, only the 11 farmers will suffer if the pond doesn’t fill with water; the rest of the population in the community will be unaffected. They said that at least these farmers would start going to and taking care of such an abandoned area that had been overlooked for a very long period.

The organization eventually chose to approve the farmers’ request after realizing that they were certain of their capacity to construct a pond on their own land. Within four to five days, farmers gathered contributions, and the construction project officially began in the last week of November 2022. After being dug down to around six feet on the first day, it began to fill with water, and by the next day, about three feet had been added. After the pump set was assembled the following day, three or four feet of water were removed during the course of the excavation process. The pond was filled with around seven feet of water when the excavation was completed, despite the fact that this was an incredibly hopeless undertaking.

The farmers had a wave of joy; they were now certain that water was flowing from below the surface and that there would never be a scarcity. The farmers made the decision to keep on cultivating a variety of crops. The farmers cleaned the shrubs and wild plants from their area before starting to cultivate crops. They cleared areas of the ground as large as 25 cents, 50 cents, 75 cents, or even an acre, depending on their capacity.

Five farmers produced vegetables and then sold them for between Rs 5000 and Rs 11000 in profit. But farmers had a newfound enthusiasm that “now we will make our land more cultivable,” and they started enlarging the cultivated area in order to prepare it for the next harvest. Approximately eight or nine acres have been put under cultivation.

In the meanwhile, another issue surfaced. It was not feasible to physically lift water from the pond to irrigate the crop. The farmers requested assistance from the organization in order to fix the problem. After witnessing the farmers’ fervor and dedication, the organization decided to instal the solar lift irrigation system for the farmers in the village.

The process was thoroughly described to each farmer at the VDC meeting. On the pond, a solar lift was established in July 2023. Farmers made generous contributions as well. This was the first time that region, which consists of 9 acres of land, was utilized for planting vegetables and paddy.

One of the farmers, Mr. Jogeshwar, built an outhouse for himself and started to spend the whole day there. In addition to farming, he requested that a pig barn and a cow shed be established on his land by the animal husbandry department. The department authorized the shed’s construction, and the cow and pig barns were finished by September 2023. In addition to farming, Mr. Jogeshwar is now involved in animal husbandry.

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