Friday 26 May 2017 News Updated at 03:05 AM IST
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For sustainable livelihoods - Deccan Herald
For sustainable livelihoods
Ganesh Hegde Neelesara,
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Subsidiary: Women engaged in garland making in Siddapur taluk, Uttara Kannada; (below) an areca dehusking machine.
If you are a farmer in Sirsi-Siddapur part of Uttara Kannada district looking to construct a rainwater harvesting tank or looking for skilled labourers to harvest the areca crop, but don’t know where to go, look no further than Manuvikasa. Based in Siddapur taluk in Uttara Kannada district, the non-profit organisation caters to these requirements of farmers, and more.

Manuvikasa was started in 2003 by a group of rural youths with the motto of social transformation. The organisation focuses on the issues of sustainable livelihood, natural resources management and conservation, women empowerment, and educational support to the underprivileged children. "We have a practical approach on sustainability and conservation,” says Ganapathi Bhat, director of Manuvikasa.

The organisation has a staff of 60 to manage and monitor everyday work, apart from volunteers from different walks of life. "Being a farmer myself, I have witnessed the difficulties faced by poor farmers. This prompted me to start this organisation,” says Ganapathi. With this in mind, he began facilitating farmers to implement various techniques that ease their burden and increase work efficiency.


Water conservation

Though the district of Uttar Kannada receives more than 2,600 mm rainfall a year, it experiences acute shortage of water during peak summer. As rainwater harvesting is the need of the hour, Manuvikasa facilitates the construction of tanks, trenches and ponds. "These are built on private farmlands and at betta land attached to a farmer or community,” elaborates Ganapathi. The farmer needs to bear a nominal cost for the work done.

For community watershed development, a hamlet consisting of at least 10 houses is preferred. So far, over 2,000 farm ponds and tanks have been constructed under this project. "Manuvikasa had developed a small water tank in my farm four years ago. It has improved water availability in my farm and now I have enough water even in peak summer. As a result, I have increased the plantation area,” says Malini Naik, a beneficiary.

In addition, System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of paddy cultivation is also being promoted through training and demonstration. A couple of acres of land has been rented for this purpose at Balehalli village near Sirsi. Production technique of areca husk manure is another popular effort of the organisation. Many farmers have chosen to follow this method.


Self-help groups
Over 1,200 women self-help groups (SHGs), with more than 14,000 rural women as members, have been formed by Manuvikasa. They are involved in various income-generation activities like garland making and tailoring. Manuvikasa guides these SHGs to get required funds by linking them with various financial institutions.

A finance cooperative called Pragatimitra Souharda Sahakari Niyamita, Siddapur, promoted by Manuvikasa, provides necessary funding to the needy farmers and SHGs. Based on the need, more than a hundred SHG members are given choolhas (energy-efficient stoves). Manuvikasa also helps underprivileged students by giving them study kits, school bags, notebooks, etc. Scholarships are given to meritorious students as well.
The scarcity of farm labourers is also being addressed by this organisation. With the help of hired labourers and SHG members, Manuvikasa undertakes contract harvesting and other works in areca plantations.

The organisation is also into the trading of areca nut produce. Similarly, areca dehusking work which requires skilled workers is being addressed quite effectively. This was done by engaging many SHG members for manual dehusking job work at Balegadde village near Sirsi. "I have been facing acute shortage of skilled and semi-skilled labourers for many years now. This year, Manuvikasa has come to my rescue,” says Shivaram Hegde, a farmer based in Sirsi.


Additional income

Betta lands are patches of forest given to arecanut cultivators by the government to support their farms. Here, the cultivators are given the right to procure non-timber forest products. This becomes an additional source of income for farmers. Manuvikasa has formed several betta development groups covering about 4,500 hectares of betta land, and distributed many types of fruit and forest species. A participatory approach is followed while implementing this programme.

The organisation plans to organise a grama santhe (rural market) at Balegadde village in Sirsi on fixed days of the week where people can sell and buy any farm produce. It also aims to focus on watershed development and expand its activity across Uttara Kannada district and also to Haveri and Gadag districts. Despite facing a shortage of skilled labourers and managerial staff himself, Ganapathi’s fervour to help needy farmers is pulling him through.

To know more about Manuvikasa, one can visit www.manuvikasaindia.org or call Ganapathi on 9845982552.

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