Rallis India has four manufacturing locations. Two each in Maharashtra and Gujarat. One of its unit is at Lote, located in the Kokan belt of Maharashtra. Since its early days, starting 1998, Rallis has been involved in various Community development initiatives . These initiatives were primarily on Education support and skill development.
Since Kokan region is blessed with heavy rainfall every monsoon, yet faces water scarcity during summers due to its hilly terrain and lack of proper storage structure for rainwater. Land available for cultivation is also in small patches and thereby majorly of Paddy cultivation is done in traditional way.
Nearly three year back we have decided to intensify our intervention in this region and in consideration to geographical conditions as stated above Rallis has identified villages in the vicinity of its 5 km radius for Integrated Watershed project.
Project aimed at increasing livelihood by increasing Agri productivity of Small & Marginal farmers through watershed interventions, women empowerment, skill development.
In the watershed project for harvesting Rain water, we have focused on constructing various temporary and permanent structures like loose boulder, Diversion dam, Check dam etc and Afforestation.
These structures were created with the help of Rallis Employee volunteers’ i.e Saathis and Villagers through ‘Shram daan’ i.e. providing ones service for community work. We have promoted participatory approach for this project for its sustainability. We have also coordinated with Agriculture department who came forward and constructed Check Dam and staggered trenches. This has helped in enhancing availability of water to villagers for irrigation and supported their livelihood.
We had dual purpose in mind for our Afforestation initiative which helped in increasing ground water level and also soil conservation. As the area selected by us has sacred forest, we have also focused on Bio Diversity, thus planted more than thousand trees having variety of mix species and fruit trees.
As a part of integrated approach we focused on enhancing livelihood of Small & Marginal farmers, women and youths. Various Capacity building program for all three have been organized.
For farmers: Modern and improved techniques of farming including various government schemes were shared by experts. Site visits, awareness sessions and actual demonstration on the field were organized by Rallis. As Paddy is the major crop in this region, Rallis introduced SRI technique (S R I – System of Rice Intensification -Imporve method ) for Paddy cultivation. We worked with two farmers who agreed to offer their land for Pilot project. After implementation of SRI technique, 25% Crop production was increased with 50% reduction in labour cost & seed cost as compare to normal method. Farmers are very happy with the result and this year 15 new farmers along with the 2 previous farmers have adopted SRI technique for rice cultivation. In addition to this Farmers were also encouraged to opt for 2nd crop of vegetable and pulses, last year two farmers came forward and got good result and this has increased in their household income. This year same is being adopted by other farmers also.
Women Empowerment: For empowering women covered under the Project area, Self Help groups (SHGs) were created involving 60 women. SHG members have under gone number of awareness sessions and Skill trainings. They were taken for site visits and experts were invited to interact with them and share about marketing strategy which encourages and motivates them to start their Home Based Businesses. Rallis created marketing opportunity for SHG members by organizing exhibition in MIDC area where members from SHG groups sold their produced and earned handsome amount. Our Lote unit has also started taking Papad from these SHGs.
For Youths & Women: Kokan area is blessed with Natural beauty and is comparatively close to Cities like Mumbai. Taking advantage of this, Responsible tourism has been introduced in the villages, where tourist from urban area comes for weekend tourism in the village and enjoys village life. They stay in the homes of villagers, consume local food, and helps villagers in their day to day activities. Youths from village are trained as tourist guide, who helps them understand the culture, history and accompanies them in various activities. Thus this initiative has created livelihood option for youths, villagers and SHG members.
Total cost is Rs. 20 Lacs for 4 years. On an average 4 to 5 lac per year
Return on investment (ROI)?
Increase in water table
Potable water access increased
Increased seasonal vegetable crop cultivation ( rabbi crop )
Agriculture production increased.
Income generation for women
Soil conservation in the village
Water level in wells will increased by end of project period
Linkage with Govt. dept. established
Income generation from Village tourism
Water has become a global issue and it is having immense importance to society as well as to business. Rallis wanted to work in this area as a part of our connect to rural India and that is why we have selected Water as one of our focus area. This is also one of the priority in terms of Company, Tata Group, Local and National requirements.
Villages are located in 5 km radius of Rallis unit. It covers 6 small villages catering to total 1500 population.
Regular feedbacks from Grampanchayat, Farmers and SHG members are taken. Water levels are taken at regular intervals using piezometers to check the increase in water table and thereby rain water harvested.
Project is sustainable and is replicable. We started with one village two years back and from this year onwards, 5 new villages have been added and various interventions are being replicated.
Main challenge was convincing villagers to implement said project, as villagers only wanted donations and other monetary incentives.
People belong to various political parties’ hence political interventions.
Motivating women to come out of their daily household chores` and initiate the Home based businesses.
There are some challenges which still needs to overcome like Monkey-menace.
Need assessment was done and based on that various interventions were planned and implemented on participatory approach. Villagers were got convinced to maintain the projects that we have initiated suiting to their requirements through one to one discussion, village meetings, and convincing opinion leaders and their buy-in for various projects.
Villagers were convinced through counseling, discussion and village meetings that to initiate the work and support it all should come together as one group, leaving their political connections aside.
Experts and motivational leaders were invited, exposure/site visits to existing business women and their units were organized to inspire and motivate women.
Still we have not overcome all the challenges, but we are trying to come out of the challenges going forward.