Water ushers in a new dawn in the life of Raidih’s farmersStory
By Chandrika Patnaik
31 January 2024
In Raidih, farmers are overcoming traditional agricultural challenges thanks to a sustainable water management initiative by Gram Vikas. The programme, enhancing irrigation and introducing efficient farming practices, is ushering in an era of prosperity and year-round cultivation for the farming community.
Irrigation water used for crop cultivation by farmers.
Photograph by Shubham Raj
In the scenic yet challenging terrain of Raidih block in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, local farmers traditionally bound to monsoon-dependent paddy cultivation were often limited to cultivating small portions of their land during the dry months. “Many of us even had to migrate to cities like Gumla, or as far as Himachal Pradesh and Goa, seeking daily wage labour,” shares Dharma Munda, a farmer, reflecting on the challenging times.
In October 2022, they began to see a change. Gram Vikas initiated the ‘Water and Livelihood Secure Gram Panchayat Programme’ in Parsa Panchayat. The programme aimed to enhance water availability for both domestic use and agriculture, improving the overall quality of life for the community.
Munda, a member of the Shrama Vikas Kishan Samiti Farmers Producer Group (FPG) is hopeful, “For years, we have been bound by the limits of seasons. But now, with Gram Vikas’ help, we can dream of harvesting two, maybe three crops a year.”
In Nawatoli village, the heart of the initiative, 59 households primarily engaged in agriculture faced an uphill battle with water scarcity. A simple diesel motor, provided initially by PRADAN, was their primary tool for irrigation. Yet, challenges persisted.
“We manually dug channels from the stream to our fields,” recounts, Mahuru Munda, a farmer from Nawatoli. “But grass and weeds around the channel, along with caving wet soil, frequently obstructed the water flow. We spent hours every few months clearing and desilting these channels.”
August 2023 marked a turning point when Gram Vikas met with the Shrama Vikas Kishan Samiti FPG in Nawatoli. The farmers collectively expressed their need for a pipeline infrastructure to ensure consistent water supply to their fields.
“By October 2023, we had a 412-meter pipeline installed,” says, Jayram Munda, a visibly proud member of the FPG. “We all pitched in, digging and laying the pipes. Now, our 25 acres of land receive water hassle-free.”
This intervention has been a game-changer, particularly for nine farmers with mango orchards. “It’s not just about easier irrigation,” explains Dharma Munda, 45, a member of the FPG. “With this pipeline, not only is our water supply consistent, but we have also been freed from the laborious task of clearing the channels. Now, cultivating two or even three crops a year is a reality.”
The success story of Nawatoli inspired similar changes in Teliya and Tukutoli villages, where pipe extensions now support more farmers with efficient irrigation.
In a show of community spirit and forward-thinking, some FPG members owning a pond with a communal pond dedicated it to collective pisciculture. With Gram Vikas’ support in providing fingerlings, they plan to desilt and deepen the pond for year-round fish cultivation. “The profits from fish sales will go back into our village’s development,” shares Dharma Munda.
The farmers of Raidih, under the guidance of Gram Vikas are overcoming perennial water shortages to embrace diverse agricultural practices and community-driven pisciculture.
Community members feeding the fish in the community pond.
Photograph by Shubham Raj
Paikas Toppo, Field Expert in Livelihoods supported in data collection for the story. Priya Pillai edited the story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shubham Raj is a Thematic Coordinator in Planning Monitoring Documentation and Communication unit. Chandrika Patnaik leads content production within the Communications team in Gram Vikas.
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