Rio Tinto - Buxwaha District, M.P
Rio Tinto has been engaged in CSR projects around the Bunder Mine for several years. The Mrida Heart ‘n Soil Foundation was brought in to take over community engagement and to identify new and innovative ways to carry out development activities to generate the maximum sustainable and scalable impact.
This programme was initiated to continue engagement with the community through skilling & livelihood programmes for women and creating market linkages for the same, enhancing the income levels of the villagers by introducing new techniques for agriculture to improve productivity and reduce costs by enhancing rural infrastructure through Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLE’s).
Stitching as a livelihood opportunity for these villages was a conducive option. Two stitching centres were set up in Majhora and Nimani, where 25 women enrolled to train. They were taught basic skills from machine operation, cloth cutting and basic stitching for items like bags, merchandise and simple apparel.
In May 2016, agri-led interventions were launched to provide small and marginal farmers with additional income. Additionally, activities like bee-keeping, poultry, multi-cropping and creating direct and indirect markets for NTFPs (Non-Timber Forest Products) were undertaken. The first phase focused on increasing crop yields by adopting modern techniques of farming. 39 farmers in three villages, Hardua, Hrideypur and Nimani were identified and training programs on enhancing the productivity of urad (black gram) and maize. Financial assistance in input costs was also provided.
There was a 12.48% productivity increase in urad (black gram) and 21.92% increase in maize production, leading to an income enhancement of about INR 5 lakhs through simple techniques like seed treatment, and fertilizer application/management. The same set of farmers are now being trained on chana (chickpeas) and wheat to register higher crop yields.
As a part of providing the farmers with additional sources of livelihood, 3 farmers were cultivating aloe vera in 3 acres of land under contract farming, through which the produce will be purchased. The baby plant harvest is expected to give these farmers a revenue of at least INR 1 lakh. The aloe vera can subsequently be harvested every 4 months on each acre of land under cultivation. The team looks forward to bringing more farmers in the fold and later setting up value addition units to supplement income levels of youth and marginal farmers in the village.
Nandlal Barela, a beneficiary of the agricultural interventions, has been provided with a thresher as another source of livelihood. Nandlal Barela is a local Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE), having invested 20% of the cost as down payment in the Village Farmer Group, the balance will be paid in 4 equal installments. This VLE will provide threshing services in the 15 surrounding villages at a nominal rate and pay his installments to the Village Farmer Group while making his share of profits in the due course.