Utkal Alumina – Transforming Farmers’ lives at Rayagada

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India CSR News Network

BHUBANESWAR: Although around 65% of the rural population in India depends on agriculture for their livelihood, the sector contributes only 16 percent to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). Given the rapid growth in non- agricultural sectors, profitability in agriculture has taken a beating, leading to migration of people from rural to urban areas.

Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL), an Aditya Birla Group Company, has undertaken a series of interventions to promote agriculture in the Kashipur block of Rayagada district.

Although most people, in this predominantly tribal block, depend on agriculture, issues like poor irrigation, storage, processing and marketing facilities pose serious problems to small and marginal farmers.

In its own way, Utkal Alumina is trying to help out farmers. They have helped form 21 farmers’ clubs involving 358 members from 21 peripheral villages. These clubs enable collective marketing, provide facilities and services under different government schemes, and enrich knowledge through exchange of ideas and information. In addition to this, Utkal Alumina has also promoted a production company – ‘Tikiri Agro-craft Producer Company’ to leverage economies of scale.

“Support in commercial vegetable farming helped supplement farmers’ income, leading to a better standard of living”, says Sastu Majhi of Bilamal village, lauding the initiative of Utkal Aluminium.

Remarks N. Nagesh, President and Unit Head of Utkal Alumina, tips on crop protection and training to increase crop yield are given to farmers. “Support is provided by arranging vegetable fairs where ample opportunities are available to market the crops, thus making farmers self-reliant”, he adds.

pic_vegetable-farming-1Raghunath Pratihari, VP (HR, Admin & CSR), UAIL, reaffirms that farmers of Andirakanch, Nuagaon and Kodipari have benefitted because of renovation work done on the check dams. “Irrigation channels have been constructed/renovated in Kucheipadar, Kodipari, Dwimundi, Hadiguda, Kanchguma, Chandragiri, Andirakanch and Peringini villages to facilitate smooth flow of water to agricultural lands”, he says.

Through these structures, farmers are able to tap perennial sources of water on the hill top and put them to use on agricultural land down the hill. Drip irrigation systems have been laid in the villages of Makapadar, Bilamal and Sanamatikana in collaboration with the Government.

Additionally, 21 deep bore-wells have been dug in Sanamatikana village and 8 micro river lift irrigation systems have been laid in Makapadar and Kampar villages under ‘Biju Krushak Vikash Yojana’.

Under ‘Project Samridhi’, a shift from subsistence agriculture to profitable commercial agriculture has been introduced in the area. This has motivated over 222 farmers from 14 villages to opt for vegetable cultivation in more than 80 acres of land during last rabi season.

“Farmers have been supplied with high yielding vegetable seeds, with more than 250 farmers supplied with 3,373 saplings of mango this year”, says Pratihari.

Utkal Alumina’s endeavours in improving agriculture and providing sustainable livelihood to people has gone a long way in transforming lives in the Kashipur block of Rayagada district, a remote corner of Odisha.

Photo: India CSR

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