Jharkhand-based Network for Enhancement and Development Support has been running a Rural Technology Park. NEEDS head Murari M. Choudhary elaborates on how this livelihood generating model works

The India NGO Awards 2009, recently given away at a function in New Delhi, saw a clutch of non-governmental organisations from across the country assembling with portfolios of notable development work. One of the finalists for the awards — jointly instituted by The Resource Alliance and The Rockfeller Foundation — is Jharkhand-based Network for Enhancement and Development Support (NEEDS). NEEDS works on multiple fronts in that State, like working with tribal women for their health and livelihood security, educating deprived children, training village youth on leadership development, etc. It has also been putting into practise the livelihood generating concept of Rural Technology Park in that State. NEEDS executive director, Murari M. Choudhary, takes a few questions here to elaborate on the idea.

What is a Rural Technology Park? How does it generate sustainable livelihood for the poor?

Rural Technology Park (RTP) is a technology modulation centre and a training centre to showcase livelihood technologies. TMP (Technology Management Packages) are developed here to transfer to the poor for their food security and livelihood generation based on ideas like poultry and goat rearing, multi-tier system of cropping, nursery for quality seedling development, micro irrigation systems, horticulture, food processing, vermi-composting, development of agriculture implements such as paddy weeder, etc. RTP has been developed with the help of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai. A large number of farmers receive hands-on training here. The technical team of NEEDS constantly does research and development in farmers' field and modulates the TMPs.

Name some livelihood models NEEDS has drawn up

We have developed low cost vermi-composting models, an agro-forestry model, a goat rearing for livelihood, a sprinkler-based wheat irrigation system, a system of rice intensification (with productivity up to 15 metric tonne per hectare. The State's average is 2.2 metric tonne), maize and beans yield augmentation models, a model to conserve moisture, a weeder development model, etc.

How do you implement them?

NEEDS works through women self-help groups. We have parameters to secure group performance and their engagements in decision making. Visioning is done at the group level, their male counterparts also participate in the exercise. To help the community execute the plans, NEEDS develops local skilled workers and community resource persons (CRPs). Each CRP transfers knowledge and skills to 100 families. We also monitor it on a weekly basis.

Additionally, training workshops are conducted for programme participants. This is done before they do the micro plans i.e. crop plans, credit plans, etc. Through workshops, they understand the change required for more yield and income enhancement. Out technical team also do local market study to help farmers develop a crop calendar in terms of when should the product come to the market for better price fetching.

Farm level records are analysed to note changes in yield and income. The process that NEEDS engages takes time to establish the robust models, but they become sustainable. We facilitate ensuring food security of the poor and shift them to sustainable livelihood process in two to five years time.

NEEDS has a MoU with the Government of Jharkhand on RTP.

The MoU with the Government of Jharkhand is on horticulture mission and health departments. The Government does not honour the An MoU much. MoU is often done for funding, it also gives targets. But due to poor governance in the State since the last two-three years, things are moving slowly.

INDIA NGO AWARDEES

In small category (with an annual budget under Rs.50 lakhs) : Salaam Balak Trust

In medium category (with an annual budget under Rs. 5 crore): India Foundation for the Arts Calcutta Rescue

In large category (with an annual budget over Rs. 5 crore): Development of Humane Action (DHAN) Foundation

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