Aditya Birla’s Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL) is spearheading an initiative to promote agriculture in Eastern India’s state of Odisha.
According to a report, around two-thirds of India’s rural population depend on agriculture for their livelihood, but the country’s agricultural sector contributes just sixteen percent to the country’s Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). As a result of growth from other sectors, the profit margin in agriculture continues to shrink, which is, in turn, leading to a massive migration to the country’s urban centers.
Initiatives by UAIL include establishing almost two dozen agricultural cooperatives (farmers’ co-ops) in villages in and around Odisha’s Rayagada district. The firm has also established a production company to help local farmers leverage economies of scale.
“Support in commercial vegetable farming helped supplement farmers’ income, leading to a better standard of living,” said one villager of UAIL’s initiatives.
“Support is provided by arranging vegetable fairs where ample opportunities are available to market the crops, thus making farmers self-reliant,” explained the President and Unit Head of Utkal Alumina, N. Nagesh.
“Irrigation channels have been constructed/renovated in Kucheipadar, Kodipari, Dwimundi, Hadiguda, Kanchguma, Chandragiri, Andirakanch and Peringini villages to facilitate smooth flow of water to agricultural lands,” explained Raghunath Pratihari, VP (HR, Admin & CSR), UAIL.
These irrigation channels have allowed local farmers to access water sources and move it downhill to water crops. Additionally, drip irrigation systems have been installed in three local villages with cooperation from the government. Twenty-one deep-bore wells and eight micro river lift irrigation systems have been installed in the Kashipur block.
Another initiative, named Project Samridhi, has encouraged farmers to migrate from subsistence farming to profitable commercial agricultural pursuits. Over eighteen dozen villagers made the switch, converting more than eighty acres over the most recent winter growing season.
“Farmers have been supplied with high yielding vegetable seeds, with more than 250 farmers supplied with 3,373 saplings of mango this year,” said Pratihari.