Residents of a dacoit-infested small and nondescript village in Karauli district in Rajasthan were living in the shadow of constant fear. Today, the villagers are engaged in making their life better through vegetable cultivation supported by a philanthropic organization. Before the villagers of Patri in Karauli district were barely able to make ends meet by working as labourers in mines.
The village has been adopted by Lupin Human Welfare & Research Foundation. The foundation has been working in Bharatpur district for over two decades. As a part of its development programme, the foundation formulated an action plan to create alternative livelihood opportunities in the village.
The foundation’s executive director, Sita Ram Gupta, told this magazine that Patri village has very little land suitable for agriculture, as it is situated in an undulating area and is surrounded by hills on all sides. However, the ground water level in the village is high as a result of huge water collection in the space between the hills during raining season.
Taking advantage of this, the foundation chalked out a plan to help the villagers through vegetable cultivation. The villagers earlier were sowing traditional crops, such as wheat, mustard and gram, which brought low yield and did not generate sufficient income to sustain their livelihood.
For most parts of the year, villagers were working as labourers in the mines in the adjoining hills, trying to survive with the meagre income with great difficulty, said Gupta. The constant fear of dacoits operating in the region is another aspect which the villagers have to deal with to ensure their survival.
The foundation’s entry into the village has led to a turnaround. The foundation, working as a philanthropic body in the neighboring Bharatpur district, provided intensive training for vegetable cultivation to villagers and supplied improved varieties for vegetables seeds on 50 per cent subsidy to 15 farmers.
“The objective of the exercise was to gradually replace the farming of food grains with vegetable cultivation to secure remunerative prices to the villagers. We identified cauliflower as the most profitable vegetable for the region and laid emphasis on its extensive cultivation,”said Gupta.
Most of the farmers grew cauliflowers, tomatoes and brinjals this year under the guidance of representatives of Lupin HW&R Foundation. Gupta pointed out that about 10 quintals of cauliflower was being supplied everyday from Patri to Karauli vegetable mandi, bringing the title, Gobhiwalon Ka Gaon (village of cauliflower growers) to the village.
In addition to the hard work of villagers and skilled guidance of Lupin HW&R Foundation, tanks have been constructed in Patri to store water streaming down from the nearby hills; this has ensured availability of irrigation waters to villagers throughout the year at a very low cost.
Gupta said Lupin HW&R Foundation had also installed 10 units of vermi-compost to further reduce the cost of vegetable production. Besides, a new action plan is being formulated for providing training to landless farmers of Patri for generating alternative means of livelihood by utilizing the locally available resources.