Diverse farming earning rich dividends for Borbil populace

 BORBIL (NAGAON), Jan 31 – Away from media glare, a quiet saga of transformation is unfolding at a cluster of villages at the Borbil area in Nagaon district bordering Karbi Anglong.The turnaround is remarkable given that the villagers, who were into less remunerative, toiling engagements like daily wage labour till two years back, are now engaged in diverse farming and animal husbandry practices, earning handsome dividends.

As on today, as many as 400 tribal families of 16 adjoining villages are producing sesame, mustard, areca nut, jute, turmeric, and wide-ranging horticultural crops, with fishery, poultry, piggery, goatery, etc., being the other profit-making pursuits. A sizeable number of these entrepreneurs happens to be women who have formed self-help groups (SHGs) for the purpose.

According to the villagers, the transformation was facilitated by the ongoing NABARD-sponsored Integrated Tribal Development Project under the aegis of an NGO, Kalong Kapili, started in 2015.

“I used to be a manual labourer in a coal mine in Meghalaya and struggled to make both ends meet – not to mention the associated health hazard. We had some land but due to frequent raids by elephant herds, almost abandoned the practice. The area is relatively dry and not suitable for many crops without irrigation. Worse, we had none to look up to for guidance,” said Johnyson Boro.

Echoing Boro’s words, Surendra Rabha, Sadhan Basumatary, Geeta Basumatary, Bablu Khaklari and Robin Khaklari said that the NABARD intervention implemented efficiently by Kalong Kapili transformed their lives.

“I used to be a driver outside, but my earnings were meagre. Today I have been able to get my two children enrolled in a good private school,” Robin said.

Purnima Marak, the leader of an SHG said that the members were earning Rs 50,000 annually from turmeric alone. “We are yet to grow crops on some plots, and once that happens, that would add to our earnings. We are living with dignity now,” she added.

Jyotish Talukdar, president of Kalong Kapili, said that the project involved an integrated approach to combine agriculture with horticulture, pisciculture, piggery and local layer farming, with the tribal villagers as active stakeholders.

“Lack of connectivity, awareness and the necessary interventions effectively distanced the villagers from the development process. The area is dominated by Bodo, Karbi, Rabha and Garo communities who had very limited livelihood options. Water scarcity was another problem, which has now been taken care of through irrigation,” he said, adding that the crop diversity and inter-cropping ensures both short-term and long-term income for the farmers.

Source : http://assamtribune.com