Rubber plantation project changes tribal people’s lifestyle

B. V. S. Bhaskar
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Beneficiaries see Kottayam market price index on Internet before selling produce

Tangible gains:President of Poojaripakala village Rubber Growers Tribal Welfare Society Gorle Mohan Rao tapping rubber milk from a rubber tree.— Photo: S. Rambabu
Tangible gains:President of Poojaripakala village Rubber Growers Tribal Welfare Society Gorle Mohan Rao tapping rubber milk from a rubber tree.— Photo: S. Rambabu

The Bulk Rubber Plantation Project (BRPP) taken up by the Rubber Board, Rampachodavaram, in collaboration with the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) in three phases from 1994 in Maredumilli mandal has brought a significant change in the life style of tribal people, particularly primitive groups like Kondareddys. Tribal people who were familiar only with podu and kondapodu cultivation from which they produced cereals are now talking about rubber products, marketing, prices, internet and other technologies.

Devarapalli is the first village in this mandal where the Rubber Board took up 50 hectares of rubber plantation initially. It took seven years for the plants to mature and the officials had to take a lot of pains to make tribal people wait for such a long time. They formed Rubber Growers Tribal Welfare Society in 2001 and elected Pallala Venkat Reddy president and he is continuing in the position. “Under the society we are total 35 families with 50 hectares of land. All the society members have been getting benefits for eight to 10 years,” said Venkat Reddy. He is getting Rs.2.05 lakh per annum from his three acres of plantation, whereas Vijayalakshmi, who is getting Rs.70,000 from her one acre of land married off her daughter. “Our status has completely changed. I am having 300 plants in 1.5 acres and on an average I am getting Rs.1.04 lakh per annum and I am having refrigerator, bike, LCD TV and enjoying my life,”said Suggi Reddy, another Kondareddy.

The rubber plantation is showing satisfactory growth in most of the areas of Maredumilli, Rampachodavaram, and Y. Ramavaram mandals. The income from rubber has uncovered new dimensions of economy, and explored new elements of development. “An average family income of a rubber-growing village was estimated at Rs.1.70 lakhs in 2011-12,” said P. Jagan Mohan Reddy, field officer.

Under second phase of bulk plantation, the Rubber Board took up BRPP in 45.82 hectares in Poojaripakala and Vetukuru with a project cost of Rs.53.40 lakh and the total number of growers is 32. Launched in 1998, the project began giving benefits in 2008. “We go according to the suggestions of local rubber board. If we want to sell our product, we see Kottayam market price index on Internet,” said Dooda Malati and Gorla Mohan Rao, Vetukuru and Poojaripakala society director and president.

However, the third phase of the project is facing trouble at present as ITDA stopped its share of Rs.58 lakh in Pandirimamidikota where 100 hectares is proposed for plantation.

“We have taken up only 45 hectares and appealed to ITDA and State Government officials, including Chief Secretary, to release funds, but to no avail,” said K. Mohanan, Assistant Development officer of Rubber Board, Rampachodvaram.



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