Stories of Change : why dhanu patra did not go to bengaluru

Village: Godigaon
Panchayat: Lamtaguda
Block: Tentulikhunti
District: Nabarangpur
Land Size: 3 acres
No. of Children: 3 (1 son, 2 daughters)

Dhanu points to his wife “She wanted to plant trees. I thought she was mad. However she insisted, and with the support from Agragamee people, we fenced our land, and grew mango and cashew. Now, four years later, we have an income of 35000 from our family farm. We plan to extend this plantation and fencing to more land on our own, now that we have learnt the design and methods.”

Shailendri his wife explains “He was planning to go for dadan work. Then I told him, see Agragamee is giving mango and cashew cuttings to plant on our land. If you go, I cannot dig the pits all alone, and we shall not get any cuttings. He thought these cutting were useless, and he would get much more income from migrating. I had to cajole and coax him to stay back. Now he is so happy to see our beautiful farm. We get such tasty fruits, our children and us, enjoy the fruits as much as we can, then only we sell them in the market. We also cultivate millet and pulses on one part of this land. Because of the trees and vermi-compost, the millet land is also fertile, and our production has increased.”

Agragamee’s integrated family farm model combines fruit orchards with land development, and a green hedge or fencing which provides livelihood, timber, fodder, acts as a windbreak, and checks soil erosion. With the support of Karl Kubel Stiftung and the German Government, this model has been able to reach 500 of the poorest tribal farmers in the remote tribal districts of Odisha in India. It has helped these farmers make a U Turn, and return to their lands avoiding the many dangers and miseries faced by unskilled migrant workers in distant and unknown cities.

Shailendri and Dhanu still work hard on their land, but, with a great sense of satisfaction, and security, as the fruits trees bring cash income of Rs.35000 and more every year, while also providing essential nutrition to all of them, the millets meet their food needs, and the hedgerows help to meet a large part of their firewood needs. They have already begun work on other parts of their 2 acres farm to extend this model further.

It has helped many farmers in the remote tribal regions of Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Rayagada Districts of Odisha make a U turn, and come back to their lands. Gradually, as excessive shifting cultivation

He used to migrate every year to far off places in search of work and income to supplement the meagre earnings from his land. His wife Shailendri Patra was always upset, as managing the household singlehandedly was a big challenge.

In 2016, Dhanu Patra developed a mixed fruit orchard over one acre of his land. He was also able to ensure year long irrigation through farm ponds and lift pumps. All this jumped the production on his one acre plot from Rs.1550 to Rs. 35000.00 a year. The change was dramatic. Dhanu’s children began to go to school regularly; he stopped his annual journeys to Bengaluru construction sites, and began to plan for repairing his dilapidated hut. The smile on his wife Sailendri’s face sums it all as she says,

Now we can give our children the food they need, and my hearth is never cold!!

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