The drought-prone dry lands in southern Andhra Pradesh are set to get a shot in the arm, with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) getting down to infuse ₹1,100 crore.
The Andhra Pradesh Drought Mitigation Project (APDMP) has embarked on the initiative to ‘drought-proof’ Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantapur, Kurnool and Prakasam districts.
These districts were identified for the pilot project, based on visible parameters such as large tracts of dry lands, extreme drought conditions and the number of farmer suicides. The measure aims at directly benefiting 1.65 lakh families in the five districts.
9 NGOs roped in
The project will be implemented in 330 gram panchayats in 110 mandals. Nine NGOs have been roped in as ‘Lead facilitating agencies’ to work as a consortium, while the Hyderabad-based WASSAN will be the technical agency. The idea is to form the ryots into self-managed groups called Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs). Climatic Information Centres (CLIC) will be set up in every mandal to take care of farm-related activities.
During adverse conditions, most small farmers get panicky and resort to knee-jerk steps like drilling additional bore wells or dumping more fertilizer than required.
“Losing hope, some migrate to the nearby towns for employment, while the weak-hearted ones commit suicide.
This project aims at bringing about a psychological change, fill confidence in them and initiate measures to tide over the crisis,” Rashtriya Seva Samithi (RASS) general secretary G. Muniratnam told The Hindu .
The RASS is one of the lead agencies entrusted with the task of implementing the project in 12 drought-prone mandals in western Chittoor.
The agencies work in tandem with the departments and agencies concerned.
During the five year-tenure, the required systems will be established at the FPO level in the first two years and the agencies will hand-hold the farmers for the next three years.
The project also has a ‘women empowerment’ component in the form of capacity building in thrift and backyard cultivation to enable them achieve economic independence.