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Chhattisgarh - Case Studies
 
Title Issue
Breaking the shackles Agro-Based Livelihoods
Extending a Helping Hand Agro-Based Livelihoods
Skilled for life SEDI
Orchard Cultivation for an Improved Life Agro-Based Livelihoods
Pardesi Dhruv Agro-Based Livelihoods
 
Breaking the shackles
 
25 year old Rakesh Dhruv, was an unemployed youth of Pounsari village. His family's sole occupation was farming. Being economically backward it was hard for Rakesh's family of 9 to make ends meet exclusively from agriculture. Though a bright student, his family found it extremely hard to let Rakesh continue his education. It was through sheer grit that Rakesh refused to give up his education and continued till he finished with his B.Com, excelling academically but just about scraping through financially.

After completing his graduation, Rakesh was on the lookout for a stable job but the job market was very limited for a mere B.Com holder. He needed to find a vocation. He applied for and cleared the criteria for the 4 month computer hardware repairing course being run by ACF. Finishing his training successfully, he also took advanced training for ten days at the CED MAP IT Division of Raipur with ACF's help and encouragement. On completion of this course he was selected by a computer firm. Rakesh was extremely happy. Not only had he landed a job soon after completing his studies; the job gave him the opportunity to travel to far off cities like Bangalore, Nagpur, Bhopal and Indore.

Moving on the fast track, Rakesh changed jobs to work with Epson printers as a sub engineer. He now earns a monthly salary of Rs.5, 000/= and gets company perks. He is able to save a good deal of money and he uses this to shore up the family kitty.

Even migrants can grow roots.

The Satnamis are one of the tribes residing here. Members of this tribe are poor and they own little agricultural land. They harvest one paddy crop in the year and spend the remaining time in far off cities in search of livelihoods.

Taking this up as a model, ACF motivated the women to form an Self Help Group (SHG). A 13 member group came together to form the Lakshmi SHG and began garnering small monthly savings. As monthly savings became a routine activity, the members began drawing benefits from it. But they felt the need to do something more. They were told about the prospects of starting a nursery and this appealed to the group. The training and exposure visits for starting a nursery raising operation were provided by ACF and the day to day care of the nursery was the responsibility of the group members. The group began the nursery in Feburay 2012 and within 5 months they were able to earn Rs.1,25,000 from the sale of plants. The families of the women were immensely impressed by this outcome. Highly encouraged by the results, the group decided to take this on as a regular activity and nurtured amla and bamboo plants in the next season.

In between the two plantation seasons, the SHG came across the possibility of winning the contract for constructing a water tank in a nearby village. The group took on the entire responsibility of procuring material, undertaking construction and even doing the physical labour. The construction was a success and it earned the women a tidy sum of Rs.19,000/=With group savings increasing substantially with this money, they were able to access a bank loan for their nursery operations to expand further.

The group members are not satisfied with their nursery operation: They now want to do much more and have set their eyes on starting a paper plate making unit.

Indeed, migrants can also grow roots!
 
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Extending a Helping Hand
 
Dev Sigh Paikra, a 23 year old tribal from Bharshela, Chhatisgarh, comes from a very poor family. He had dropped out of school after class eight because of his family's financial constraints and joined his parents to work as a daily wage labourer. Though the family had a land holding of 1.5 acres, the family didn’t have the money to make the initial investment
in agriculture.

Dev wanted to change this situation. He took a loan to grow vegetables on his own field but because of a bad harvest, was unable to pay back the entire loan. Being the resilient man that he was, he found out about ACF,s agricultural support projects for marginal farmers. He attended a meeting organised by ACF and with the support of the Foundation, procured 40 horticulture plants of mango and amla and vegetable seeds. This time he had the technical know-how and support from the Foundation. His venture didn't fail this time. In fact it was an out and out success. His yield from these plants was good enough for consumption by the family as well as sale in the market.

In a few months of this cultivation, Dev's fortunes changed. His family's economic status improved significantly and they were able to completely stop working as daily wagers. Today, they spend all their time developing their own piece of land.
 
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Skilled for life

According to the latest census, there are approximately 550 million youth including adolescents in India. A growing economy like India requires a large and skilled workforce. However, the lack of quality trainers and training institutes has created roadblocks to growth.  Skills shortage is evident in every sector of the economy according to the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

The need for skills training is equally felt by the youth in large parts of the country. To address this need, ACF has established 16 Skill Training Institutes across 10 states, with students receiving training in 45 different trades. The courses cater to rural youths who are marginally educated and have limited options for livelihood. ACF’s Skill and Entrepreneurship Development Institutes (SEDIs) provide training and build capacities of youth in various trades, opening up avenues for self or wage employment.

By equipping youth with skills for livelihood, SEDI has been able to transform the lives of many. For Prakash Kumar Druv Lekhu, the training at SEDI, Bhatapara has been like a new lease of life. Before joining SEDI, he was not sure about his goal in life like many of his friends. He also had the responsibility to assist his father in earning. His father usually earned a meager amount from his daily labour in the fields. When Prakash heard of SEDI, he approached it for enrollment in the electricians’ course. The course gave him a direction to lead his life with dignity. Today he works with Chhatisgarh Jute Industries, Raipur earning a Rs. 5000/- on a monthly basis. Prakash also encouraged his friends and relatives to join the course for a stable livelihood option. SEDI at Bhatapara is also helping Prakash complete the modules in ‘repair of home appliance’ from the Government of Chhatisgarh, which would enhance his skills and qualifications. It is just another step towards self-employment and self-sufficiency, with a bit of support from ACF.

SEDI’s work has been much appreciated by both the community, as well as the Government. We have been invited for the CRPF Civic Action Programme initiated under the Ministry of Home Affairs; and we are in the processes of completing 3 batches by the end of April 2013.

 
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Orchard Cultivation for an Improved Life

In Karmada village, Madhya Pradesh, Pardesi Dhruv, a Gond tribal, worked extra hard to make ends meet. He was a farmer, but his 1 acre piece of land was barren and so he was forced to turn to casual labour work. However, sufficient work as a daily wager was not available in his village so he had to migrate to nearby towns to earn for his family. Even his wife began working as a daily wager to add to the family income. This was still not enough to meet the family needs. Their children had to drop out of school and their home was in desperate need for repair because the rains were flooding the house. Conditions became so bad that the family began depending on the subsidised food grains given by the government.

Pardesi and his family weren’t the only ones in dire straits. Many other tribals were also living hand to mouth, so ACF formulated a strategy to deal with this problem. In association with NABARD, a Wadi Project was initiated in these tribal areas. Under this project, tribals with small and barren land holdings were encouraged to practice horticulture. Initially the tribals were sceptical because they were unsure about how the project would help them. They were worried that if they tried something different, and if it didn’t work, they would lose what little they earned before.

ACF held meetings and finally convinced the people to take up the project. The people were reassured that they wouldn’t be at any loss if they gave horticulture a shot. So land was fenced and seeds for fruits and vegetables provided. Pardesi and his wife also began growing vegetables and arhar dal on their land. Together they made good profits by selling the surplus yield. Their new agricultural practice was doing so well, that they completely stopped migrating for work.
 
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Pardesi Dhruv

In Karmada village, Chhattisgarh, Pardesi Dhruv, a Gond tribal, worked extra hard to make ends meet. He was a farmer, but his 1 acre piece of land was barren and so he was forced to turn to casual labour work. However, sufficient work as a daily wager was not available in his village so he had to migrate to nearby towns to earn for his family. Even his wife began working as a daily wager to add to the family income. This was still not enough to meet the family needs. Their children had to drop out of school and their home was in desperate need for repair because the rains were flooding the house. Conditions became so bad that the family began depending on the subsidised food grains given by the government.

Pardesi and his family weren’t the only ones in dire straits. Many other tribals were also living hand to mouth, so ACF formulated a strategy to deal with this problem. In association with NABARD, a Wadi Project was initiated in these tribal areas. Under this project, tribals with small and barren land holdings were encouraged to practice horticulture. Initially the tribals were sceptical because they were unsure about how the project would help them. They were worried that if they tried something different, and if it didn’t work, they would lose what little they earned before.

ACF held meetings and finally convinced the people to take up the project. The people were reassured that they wouldn’t be at any loss if they gave horticulture a shot. So land was fenced and seeds for fruits and vegetables provided. Pardesi and his wife also began growing vegetables and arhar dal on their land. Together they made good profits by selling the surplus yield. Their new agricultural practice was doing so well, that they completely stopped migrating for work.
 
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Skills to transform lives

By equipping youth with skills for livelihood, SEDI has been able to transform the lives of many. For Prakash Kumar Druv Lekhu, the training at SEDI, Bhatapara has been like a new lease of life. Before joining SEDI, he was not sure about his goal in life like many of his friends. He also had the responsibility to assist his father in earning. His father usually earned a meager amount from his daily labour in the fields. When Prakash heard of SEDI, he approached it for enrollment in the electricians’ course. The course gave him a direction to lead his life with dignity. Today he works with Chhatisgarh Jute Industries, Raipur earning a Rs. 5000/- on a monthly basis. Prakash also encouraged his friends and relatives to join the course for a stable livelihood option. SEDI at Bhatapara is also helping Prakash complete the modules in ‘repair of home appliance’ from the Government of Chhatisgarh, which would enhance his skills and qualifications. It is just another step towards self-employment and self-sufficiency, with a bit of support from ACF.
 
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Building a home

For many youth in Bhatapara, the Mason Training Programme has come as a boon. Most of the local youth are involved in masonry, but without any professional training or qualification. They have developed this skill through experience over the years. Despite their skill, they are paid low wages due to lack of certification and training. Tikam Das from Manikpur, Bhataparaused to earn Rs 100/- per day, on days when he could find work.

With five family members to support, these wages were inadequate. Tikam’s family would suffer whenever he could not find work. One such day, when Tikam did not get work, he happened to be present at a meeting organised in the community on mason training. He was hopeful of getting work during the meeting; instead, he got an opportunity to upgrade his skill by enrolling in SEDI’s Mason Training Programme.

After completing the 3 month training programme, Tikam is now draws Rs 300/- for his labour. In fact, during the lean season of the trade, he built his own two BHK flat for his family! Tikam can truly say that he built his own home with his own hands.
 
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