NALBARI, Jan 17 � A progressive farmer, Tarun Talukdar of Kotalkuchi village, has cultivated seven bighas of mustard with the irrigation facilities of Satha channel. He is also planning to cultivate early Ahu after harvesting the mustard. Another farmer, Sultan Ali of Raimadha village, has also prepared a 10-bigha plot of land for early Ahu cultivation by using the irrigation facilities foffered by Satha channel.
This would not have been feasible earlier, as cultivation of this kind was expensive due to the shallow tube well-based irrigation system. The Gramya Vikash Mansha (GVM) has, however, brought a ray of hope on the faces of hundreds of farmers of Nalbari, Baksa and Kamrup districts by implementing the Diversion Based Irrigation (DBI) Project.
The GVM has been implementing the project with the support of the Jamsetji Tata Trust of Mumbai since 2009 in seven clusters of these three districts with each cluster having 20 to 30 villages. It has been working with around 6,000 farmers in each of these clusters.
Under the DBI project, the GVM has been focusing on various issues pertaining to water, such as water logging, scarcity of water for irrigation, degradation of wetlands etc., which have been seriously affecting the lives and livelihood of the farmers.
Before starting any initiative, the GVM conducts a participatory vulnerability analysis, based on which community action plan at the micro level to address the issues are prepared in each of the clusters.
Various activities, such as restoration of water bodies, extension of natural canals and creeks etc., to farmlands, installation of wire bundhs and sluice gates to divert natural water for irrigation, capacity enhancement among farmers, promotion of organic farming, rice intensification, strengthening of linkages between farmers and State authorities, as well as formal financial and Panchayati Raj institutions, advocacy programme to address issues of farmers etc., are carried out under the project.
To monitor, review and reflect various activities, such as financial progress and expenses, cluster level coordination committees, called �Jan Suraksha Samities� are formed which are empowered to continue all programmes in a sustainable manner, beyond the project period. State institutions, such as Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Agriculture Department, NABARD, NEDFi, etc., are extending active support for these programmes.
�The significant outcome of the project is revival of the ecological balance in and around farmlands of different clusters, which is the most important factor and pre-condition for ensuring livelihood among farmers, fishermen, livestock farmers etc.,� said Prithibhusan Deka, president of GVM while talking to this correspondent recently.
Deka added that all construction and diversion-related activities are carried out with the active participation of local farmers due to their traditional knowledge on local hydrology. So far, GVM has restored over 50 kms of natural canals in Nalbari, Kamrup and Baksa districts under the DBI Project, which has benefited at least 35,000 bighas of farmland.
A vibrant and positive attitude of the farmers of Kotalkuchi and Raimadha villages under Barbhag Revenue Circle in Nalbari district awaited this correspondent, who visited these villages to have first-hand knowledge of the project initiated by GVM with the support of the District Agriculture Department. The Satha channel, which was considered a sorrow of the farmers of Barbhag area during the monsoon season, has now become a source of joy for them.
�Most of the activities of the project are viable under MGNREGA as well as under different existing schemes of the Agriculture Department. The only thing required is the active participation of farmers at all levels of the decision making process of implementing activities under MGNREGA,� Deka added.