Kerala

‘Wadi’ project turns a PVTG tribal settlement self-reliant

A tribal farmer of the Kattunayakka tribal settlement at Cheeyambam in Wayanad district engaging in farm works.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Kattunaykka tribal people, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), are traditionally forest dwellers but, the members of the Kattunayakka settlement at Cheeyambam in Wayanad district are settled as skilled farmers now, thanks to the ‘Wadi’, orchard, programme implemented by the MS. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) with the support of the NABARD.

As many as 302 tribal families of the settlement got two acres of land to each family under the Forest Rights Act in 2010 but, dearth of the knowledge on modern agricultural practices made their crops succumbed to pests and diseases.

Earlier, collecting minor forest produces and selling it in nearby market was the primary source of income for them.

An array of activities were taken up and successfully implemented by the MSSRF in five years in the tribal village to make them dependent on agriculture.

Reduction of the distress sale was an important change brought in the village, says N. Anil Kumar, Senior Director, MSSRF.

Major crops that are being cultivated include Coffee, Pepper, ginger, and turmeric but, the predicament of the tribal farmers forced them to sell their crops even before harvest to middlemen.

“We encouraged the farmers to take up intercropping as additional income generation activity and provided them with seed materials”, Dr. Anilkumar said.

These made the farmers to fetch an additional income during the lean periods between the major crops. They were trained in modern agricultural practices and making value added products from their crops. Linkages established with buyers such as farmer producer organizations within and outside the district made the farmers to sell their products at premium price.

Increased water availability by digging two huge ponds was one of the major activities under the programme, says Bolan, President of Village Planning Committee of the settlement.

“We had to wait for the arrival of tanker lorry to get drinking water a few years ago,” he said. The interventions such as making of rain pits, trenches and earthen bunds in the village changed the water availability, he added.

The Kyasanur Forest Disease, also known as Monkey fever, always pose a threat to the tribesmen at the advent of summer and as many as 13 members were died of the disease in a few years. However the disease was kept at bay from the settlement after adopting remedial steps with the support of the Health Department, Joseph John, scientist, MSSRF said.

The MSSRF had spent ₹1.35 crore for the project so far. The project also helped the community to avail many beneficial projects from government including construction of houses, toilets and electrification works, Mr. Joseph John said.


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Printable version | Sep 20, 2021 9:07:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/wadi-project-turns-a-pvtg-tribal-settlement-self-reliant/article35378821.ece

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