Ponds leading to new opportunities in rural Chhattisgarh

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Context

Construction of pond under MGRNEGA is often not accepted by a community but if made by considering the watershed principles it can bring long-term benefits for the farmers. This case study captures one such incidence in Surajpur district of Chhattisgarh where paddy production has doubled after the construction of farm pond through MGNREGA with support from Sangata Sahbhagi Grameen Vikas Sansthan (SSGVS)

In Gram Panchayat, Khajuri in Pratappur block Ramprasad Painkara is a medium farmer who owns 6 acres of land on which 18 members depend for their food and income. Thus, there is immense pressure to generate enough and they usually migrate or do labor work in the nearby villages.

We used to only paddy in our field and now we are able to diversify our crops using water from the pond – now we do paddy, maize, and some vegetables. Also, we do some Arhar dal which we use at home for our family consumption.” Ramprasad

Ramprasad was initially skeptical of the pond creation in his individual land as it will further reduce the cropping area, but after discussions in community meetings possibility of fish rearing in the pond and cultivation of short-duration paddy, he got convinced. Continuous irrigation problems and dry land also were reasons for the construction of ponds.

Outcomes of the initiatives

After approval from Gram Sabha work was started in a patch of low land and was completed with total cost of Rs. 2,80,000. It was envisaged that the harvested rainwater will not only increase cropping intensity in the adjacent lands but will also lead to improved paddy productivity. Sangata Sansthan team members also trained farmers in the village on the use of organic farming for manure and fertilizer required for production. This year Ramprasad and his family has cultivated Kala Jeera variety of paddy through SRI method and was very happy to see 30-40 Kansa in each plant and expects a good produce.

Fish Rearing – In addition to agriculture, fish cultivation was also done, SSGVS conducted training around technical aspects of fish rearing and fish eggs of Rohu, Katla, and Mrugal were put into the pond whose cost was Rs. 750/kg. The pond water was treated with Chuna (Limestone) and cow dung for reducing chances of infection and diseases. The produce of this year will determine the interest of the family in fish cultivation in the coming years.

Vegetable cultivation and fruit cultivation can also be done in the pond boundary in the future and the family has already planned for it.

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