According to Economic and Human Development Indicators for the state of Chhattisgarh, over 12 million people have been categorized as poor. Supporting the state in its efforts to bridge this development deficit is a lead role taken by a Non State actor working in Chhattisgarh. Through a project titled ‘Jalgram Pariyojna’ we initiated processes of development in four tribal villages of Korba district, Chhattisgarh in collaboration with Bharat Aluminum Corporation Ltd andNational Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). Here the focus of the project has been on development of water resources including the harvesting of rainwater in farm ponds, construction of dug wells, check dams etc. Supplementing these efforts, crop and water management practices (seeds, farm nutrients, water, farm mechanization etc) have been introduced in the form of System of Rice Intensification (SRI). Other crops where improved practices have been demonstrated include vegetables and pulses. Components on livelihood diversification demonstrated under the project include cattle and fish rearing. Human and Institutional Development demonstrated under the project have targeted Village Development Councils (VDC) and farmers.
Our experience of working in the rainfed areas of Chhattisgarh is an indication that the small and marginal farmer still requires social and technical support in order to achieve food and water security, a demand unchanged since six decades of independence. Historically neglected, the development of water resources in rainfeds, offers a great opportunity to improve their livelihoods and develop these areas. Here with the high rainfall, farm ponds are a well established solution to the continuing challenge of the agricultural sector – inadequate access to a secure irrigation. Further the demonstration of these simple irrigation infrastructure have the potential to revolutionize rural livelihoods, especially since they are accompanied by multiple benefits of improved productivity, increased cropping intensity, diversification of livelihoods, income enhancement and family level nutrition. While, the project is an indication of the openness of a Corporate to integrated and simple approaches of development with measurable impacts, that additional investments are required to transform these villages into Adarsh Grams also needs to be considered.