Telangana

Hard working Kolam tribe couple become land owners

Kolam farmers Athram Raju and his wife Rajubai at their banana plantation in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

Kolam farmers Athram Raju and his wife Rajubai at their banana plantation in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.   | Photo Credit: S_HARPALSINGH

An unthinkable phenomenon has happened in the deeper confines of the tribal land in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district. Once poor landless agriculture labourers, a Kolam aboriginal tribe couple, Athram Ramu and Rajubai of Murkilonka hamlet of Parda gram panchayat in Kerameri mandal have come to own a four-acre plot of farm land in their own village, purchased out of the savings they made over a period of over 18 years.

Ramu and Rajubai are perhaps the only Kolams — their tribe being categorised as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) as it is among the most backward among aboriginal tribes in the country — who could afford to experiment by planting bananas on one acre of their plot of land. They will harvest the crop sometime in September.

The story of sheer hard work and patience starts with the destitute Ramu getting married to an equally poor Rajubai some 23 years back. He belonged to Agarwada village in Khairi gram panchayat in the same mandal, but shifted to Murkilonka as iltem or the son-in-law living in the wife’s home. “The first four years I worked on the land of my father-in-law. Later, Balaji Kendre (an organic farmer from Dhanora who has grown apples) employed us for three years on leased out farm lands which he was cultivating,” the 50-plus-year-old Ramu began narrating his story.

“As we had saved some money by working with Mr. Kendre, I myself leased out some land for cultivation. By 2016, we were able to purchase the four acres for ₹ 3 lakh which we had saved,” he added. The Kolam family also increased in number with the addition of three sons, two of whom have been sharing the work on the field. Thanks to the whole family working as one unit, the farmers could save precious extra money.

While cultivation of cotton and red gram was profitable during the last three years, Ramu and Rajubai experimented with banana plantation on the advice of Mr. Kendre. “I knew their hard work will yield desired results,” observed the organic farmer who inspects the plantation periodically.

Thanks to owning the land, the Kolam farmers were able to avail crop loan from the Telangana Grameena Bank, Kerameri branch last season. “I am waiting for correction of the higher interest calculated by the bank so that I can repay the loan,” Mr. Ramu revealed.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 9:10:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/hard-working-kolam-tribe-couple-become-land-owners/article31673512.ece

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