Dhenkanal(Odisha): While there is an ongoing debate on whether industry and agriculture can co-exist, GMR Kamalanga Energy Limited (GKEL) has a point to make. The GMR Group promoted Kamalanga-based company has undertaken a number of agriculture-based livelihood transformation activities in villages covered by the Mangalpur Panchayat in Dhenkanal District neighboring its 1050 MW power plant to demonstrate that it is possible.
Perhaps the most challenging task was to bring 500 acres of land on the banks of the Bramhani River under groundnut cultivation in the Rabi from a mere 50 acres last year. Working tirelessly with nearly 400 farmers, the GMR Varalakshmi Foundation (GMRVF), which is the CSR arm of GMR Group and supports GKEL in Odisha, motivated farmers, shared its knowledge of advanced agricultural practices and provided seeds, and farm implements according to needs so that groundnut and potato crops could be grown successfully to add handsome incomes to families of marginal farmers.
GMRVF professionals have been working hard to build capacity among local farmers by imparting skills improvement training. This has resulted in productivity increases on over 60 acres of land where paddy is being cultivated adopting SRI methods. Local farmers are hopeful that they will be able to harvest much more paddy this time. Mr. Narayan Sahu, a groundnut farmer from Achalakote Village echoes this confidence when he says, “GMR Kamalnaga Energy Limited has supported us completely. I hope this year I will harvest a good groundnut crop on my land.” Mr Sansari Behera from Manpur Village says “I was really benefited by expert advice on how to grow groundnut better.
Besides agriculture, GKEL has supported cultivation of vegetables in backyard kitchen gardens so that women contribute monetarily to the household earnings without stepping out of the house. Lemon and teak plantation has also been encouraged in backyards by providing saplings and advise. GKEL has also helped to improve the earning capacity of women SHGs through mushroom cultivation. GKEL has provided substantial support to several families for goat, poultry and duck rearing last year and pisciculture in individual as well as community ponds this year.
GKEL’s CSR Program Leader Mr. Dillip Kumar Kar says, “Agriculture and rural livelihoods are central to our CSR focus because most of the villagers are engaged in these occupations. Our effort was to improve the earning capacity of rural farmers and the results have been very encouraging. Besides enhancing livelihood opportunities, we do substantial work to improve the neighborhood communities’ access to quality education, health, hygiene, sanitation and creation and upkeep of community assets. What we have achieved so far has been possible because of the co-operation of the local communities.”