This was informed by Usha Ramesh, chief general manager of NABARD, West Bengal regional office, Kolkata during the State Credit Seminar organized by NABARD on Saturday.
The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rs 148.23 crore for the development of the tribal population spread over 11 districts in Bengal. The money was sanctioned from 2005-06 to March 2023. NABARD set up the Tribal Development Fund ( TDF) to replicate the WADI/ Orchard model across the country to promote integrated development of tribal families by adopting suitable incomegenerating activities and community empowerment.
NABARD’s WADI project has done miracles in Jalahari Shabar Para of Matra village in Bankura district. The tiny hamlet is inhabited by 21 Shabar households, most of whom are farmers. The tribal farmers own small patches of land with low to zero productivity and some low lying land used for paddy cultivation. Seasonal migration was rampant and most tribals worked as daily wage labourers for their livelihood. Sakhi Shabar, a woman farmer showed interest in the WADI project.
She agreed to start an orchard on an unused land. Her success was a game changer and many tribal families have opted for the scheme. She planted 40 saplings of mango and guava on her one acre of land. She attended the training programme and was supported by giving fertilizer and pesticides. Her cultivation cost was reduced and profit margin increased. Her income increased by Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 annually and will further go up once the fruits ripen and she sells them in the local market.
Set up in 2022, a self help group ( SHG) called Shiulibona Birsa Munda Swanirbhar Dal has successfully helped the dreams of 10 women who had formed the SHG at Shiulibona village in Chhatna village in Bankura district. These women received training to run goatery , poultry, vermicompost and nursery raising. Once their training was completed they set up a nursery and a mini goat- rearing unit at their homes with loans available from Paschim Banga Gramin Bank.
The last loan they availed was Rs 1,50,000 in March 2023 to expand their goatery unit. At present each of them ears Rs 15,000 to Rs 18,000 per year. The Watershed Development Project taken up by NABARD has helped many villagers like Mamata Mahato of Pirra village in Purulia. In the first year, she earned a profit of Rs 40,000 annually from tomato and Rs 50,000 from watermelon cultivations.
Many women are following her and she shares her knowledge about the benefits of watershed interventions with other farmers. Usha Ramesh, chief general manager, West Bengal Regional Office, NABARD said it plays a crucial role in the development of rural sector through its various promotional and developmental activities. “ We have 60 WADI/ Orchard Development Programmes covering 32,994 tribal families in 550 villages. Small orchard as a core component, along with intercropping and livelihood activities are being implemented to improve the livelihood of the tribal populace.”