Development Program

The Asha Kiran Development Program:

In the year 2000, the community team realising the need of addressing more than health began involving in the development and social needs of the villagers. AKS helped initiate groups comprising young men (Yuva samaj), farmers (farmers clubs) and women self help groups (SHGs) at the village level and health and development committees (HDCs) at the next tier-panchayat level. They are given training in schemes like NREGA, obtaining landa pattas etc. and encouraged to take hold of their own futures.

Agriculture is the main source of income for the tribal population of Lamtaput but the farming practices followed are achaic and primitive with the result that the land produces very little yield. The predominantly sloping land along with heavy rainfall and deforestation results in worsening soil erosion every year with little or no topsoil remaining. Increasingly farming is being seen as a lose-lose situation with the results that farmers are turning to planting easy cash crops like eucalyptus trees and worsening the ecological damage to their environment. Those with not enough land to plant cash crops practice seasonal migration to the cities for manual labour jobs. Exploitation by unscrupulous touts, sudden exposure to city ways and values particularly by the youth of the villages results in strains on traditional family bonds. Their culture and language are in danger of being discarded and lost.

Analysing this situation, the Community Services Unit (CSU) is trying to introduce farming practices suitable for the terrain. SALT (Sloping Agriculture Land Technology) and afforestation are being advocated and introduced in several villages. Organic methods for both pest control and to reduce the use of fertilisers are being propagated. Livestock of better stock was accessed and introduced. Kitchen gardens have been started with the intent of supplying year round vegetable produce to the villagers thus improving nutritional status. Cash crops like fruit trees suitable for this terrain which do no bring about ecological damage are being advocated.

These steps are extremely important for the future of any agricultural society. Unless farming is made a productive and financially viable solution, future generations have little to look forward to.

Read on Dama Chalan's story