Chandra Dhaja Patra, a 49 years old resident of Kudolima village in Kolnara block of Rayagada district of Odisha discontinued his education after completing the 8th grade due to financial constraints, Chandra joined his parents in farming during his teenage years. With a modest 2-acre plot of land, he tried to cultivate various crops such as millet, vegetables, and paddy. However, over time, the traditional millet cultivation method transitioned to broadcasting, and the use of chemical fertilizers increased, leading to declining productivity and soil degradation.

Prayatn’s Intervention:

In June 2022, Prayatn Sanstha initiated the Holistic Rural Development Programmeacross 40 villages and 7 Gram Panchayats in Kolnara Block, Rayagada District. The project aimed to enhance farmers’ income by employing better and climate resilient ways of farm and non-farm based livelihood development keeping in mind that tribal farmers, most of whom are small and marginal farmers, are extremely vulnerable to risks associated with climate change. Reviving millet cultivation was an important part of the process as millets have been found to be more climate resilient and can be cultivated with less investment. In the region, since Finger Millet (locally called Mandiya) is very common the team promoted the same. Agricultural experts trained interested farmers on modern and organic ways like seed treatment before sowing, land preparation, System of Crop Intensification, line sowing, using compost in place of chemical fertilizer, timely and proper weeding etc. and extended on-site handholding support in developing demonstratios of the same. Chandra Dhaja Patra was also among those farmers displayed deep interest in this process.

Impact:

Chandra Dhaja Patra, along with his family, cultivated finger millet on 0.5 acres of land using System of Crop Intensification practices. Earlier, he used to get maximum yield of 2 to 2.25 quintals in in 0.5 acres of land but because of the better way he could harvest 4.63 quitals within the same land. Out of this, he sold 4 quintals at rate Rs. 3846 per quintal in the market and resulting in earning of Rs. 15384. With the investment being only With an investment of Rs. 5450, he gained profit of Rs 9934 while earlier he used to get profit of only Rs 2000 to 2500. And this profit has been earned in nature friendly manner without using any chemical fettilizers or pesticides. Thus economic gain to the household has come with conservation of environment which is helpful in mitigating climate change.

Chandra Daja, because of his leadership skills, was elected as Chairperson of the Village Development Committee. Now he has turned into a model farmer as well. In such situation, other farmers follow him while he is helping in educating them with his gained understanding. Chandra’s journey exemplifies the transformative impact of Prayatn Sanstha’s interventions on rural livelihoods and environmental sustainability. His family, which includes wife, 2 daughters and a son also feel happy with the development and take pride in him.

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