For him, social and service are two sides of the same coin. That’s the reason the rural critics refer to him as someone who knows how to bloom two different flowers in one branch! Meet Jagannath Mohanty, an established Rural Activist cum Social Worker of contemporary age who has proved to establish a world of green fields in the barren and unproductive lands. He and his organisation aim to establish solar walled and solar roof houses for the rural people and solar Power- Plant to support rural economy and avoid pollution by citizen’s funding. In an engaging conversation with Khusnuma P Ahmed, Mohanty talks about his journey.
Why did you choose ‘rural’ as an important part in your life? Any specific incident that motivated you for this?
As every child, I had dreamt a lot about myself being someone special to the world. Sorry! It was never earning in dollars and spending life in aboard. I always wished to be a soldier, a farmer or a teacher. A responsible citizen to the nation.
As my goal to become a soldier could not be accomplished, I perused law and tried to serve the rural India with justice and fair support.
Thereafter, I started motivating the rural youth to engage themselves in mechanisation of agriculture for high productivity along with one of my close friends Manas Ranjan Dash. He is an agricultural entrepreneur and we are collectively trying to work together, encourage and help rural agriculture under an organisation known as Jagrut Odisha Charitable Trust. I think being rooted from rural helps me and motivates me to do things that could grab development for the nation as a whole.
Tell us something about your organisation. Any specific agriculture problem/project your organisation is working for?
We are officially in this field since a decade. The rural India has the potential to change India’s economy, but working together with the same objective is quite a difficult task. Active leaders are not only working for their own benefits but also influencing people to be like them. Yet, rural India is living peacefully and self-sufficient / self-belonging lives.
There are many problems related to rural. We, on a specific note, are working for land reformation plan which the majority of farmers are facing. It’s said that technology has transformed the face of agriculture yet more than 60 to 70 percent of land is still equipped by the traditional methods and crop damaging issues on the other hand.
The plan fails in rural India or the people make them failed, is still a big question! We have started educating farmers and offering financial aids to help them to cultivate better. There is still more to do.
What are the main challenges you think currently spurring in the rural parts?
India gets the highest fund in the sector of rural development but fails tremendously as the huge fund becomes narrow drop by the time they reach the ground level beneficiaries. On the other hand, most educated people having all the knowledge either hijack the fund or misguide the original beneficiary. Even time humiliation are faced by the political people and government officials, some of the beneficiaries also cheat the government projects by misusing documents and figures.
Another biggest drawback is most labour class people who are working in the fields are migrating from their native to cities for bread and butter, as there is no surety of income in agriculture and in village infrastructure, because of climatic changes and dependency on it mostly.
Youth is no more interested in uncertain income on agro/horticulture. As per ‘education to all’ slogan of the government every educated youth is dreaming for a government (6th/7th pay) job or a secure salaried job in private sector. The village entrepreneurship and traditional family work are now at a thresh hold.
Faulty irrigation system is mostly affecting agro-economy. Some fields are receiving water by drops. Where some areas are facing water logging problems. Consecutive losses in agro perusing the land acquisition towards commercials, industrial and building purpose without government approvals and planning. Rather government has no plan, rule and interest to prohibit these, the land is either going on squeezed or unusable for agro.
Sometimes, the production is much higher and satisfactory, the market price becomes so low due to huge product availability at production time and due to lack of storage or cold storage. So, after a healthy harvest also the rural areas get losses which pull down the rural economy and also interest in future generation in the agro sector.
Non availability of electricity in most of the villages could not make people aware of government opportunities.
Would you like to share any success story?
In the district of Jagatsinghpur of Odisha, we started a campaign of mechanical agro in 2012. There the farmers were using 25-30 kg of rice seed for nursery that will be used per acre to transplant. But in mechanical generally 12 kg per acre is used to transplant. The difference is the seed purchased from Rice Research Centre are healthy 100 percent but the self produced seeds are not 100 percent healthy which the farmers generally use and harvest.
In order to avoid this, we explained farmers a simple home method popularly used in China and Japan. Put some water in a large container and an egg in it. The egg becomes denser than water. Add some salt in water and make salt solution up to the egg just floats under water. Then add 30 kg of seed in the solution and extract the floating seeds as they are not 100 percent healthy seeds. Only the healthy seeds will decent in the bottom of the container. The 100 percent healthy seeds of 12 kg can give healthy germination and good harvest.
Its almost 2-3 years the farmers of the area are getting benefit by this process. We are planning to prepare a video on filtering healthy seed and distribute in different panchayats of Odisha and neighbouring states for awareness. This process is also helpful for manual and traditional farming of the rice.
What is the vision of your organisation?
After basic education, we are trying to educate and train the new generation with technical knowledge so that it can help them to contribute to the rural economy and maintain their traditional family work and add profits. ‘Educating rural citizen’ and how to make success is our current project, working successfully in 26 district and 112 villages without depending on the government machinery. Creating market or consumers direct to deliver their rural product with a handsome value. Planning the production and creating federation for proper storage, dispatch and getting a value added price for that.
According to the India Labour Report 2014, approximately 53 percent of employed youth suffer some degree of skill deprivation while only 8 percent of youth are unemployed. The remaining 47 percent of India’s youth suffer some degree of unemployability. Only 7 percent of the population in the 15 to 29 years age group has received some form of vocational training. Rural youth shares the maximum percent in the total.
300 million youth will enter the labour force by 2025. The unfinished product from the education system makes it vulnerable and creates social instability and inequality.
What are you looking forward to rural India in coming years?
Bio-gas plant with solar roof and LED gazettes in every house, with facility of sanitation and safe drinking water by proper training to use them to reduce health and maintenance cost. Availability of easy and all time communication facility.
I believe it is essential that economic prosperity has to reach 700 million people who are in the rural areas.
The solution is establishment of 7,000 PURAs (Providing Urban Amenities in Rural Areas) across the country and graduating our economic development measure from growth in GDP to growth in National Prosperity Index, NPI.
Your advice to people who wish to work in different areas for rural development?
Create self-confidence in the educated rural mass who can counsel the illiterate mass. Try to create a single-model concept and start working together. The time has come to launch a youth movement for national development. This, I am progressing. And I wish to achieve success that can inspire nearby organisation or individual to adopt it.