Naveen Patnaik Hon'ble Chief minister , Odisha

Naveen Patnaik
Farming and Allied activities augmenting targeted livelihood in Odisha (Series-2)

Integrated Farming, Use of Technology, enhancing Livelihood security

Transformation begins in ways we think …


We continue to tell the story of our farmers who have taken 'such steps' …


Susant Dwivedi, a farmer belonging to Bedasan village in Angul district was distressed with irregular monsoon and was very inclined to end the dependency on rain-fed agriculture. During his quest for a suitable way out, Susant came across Odisha Government's scheme to set up farm ponds on private land. The plan instantly struck Susant, who decided build a farm pond to irrigate his farm spreading over 2 hectares.

Irregular Monsoon has been continuing to be a regular menace for Angul Block since last couple of years. In those areas, Agriculture practice is being managed with rainfed condition. Due to an unstable rainy season, the farmers in Angul were apprehensive to grow a variety of crops. They feared a dry spell during the Kharif season. But today, farmers like Susant have shown them a way out.

The State Government facilitates 'Farm Ponds' to individual farmers in their private plots through the MGNREGA. The Directorate of Soil Conservation and Watershed Development is responsible for implementing Farm Pond scheme in Angul District. "I contacted soil conservation staff through Panchyat-level workers for excavating a farm pond in his land. The land feasibility and other pre-requisites were verified by a technical team headed by the local officials for availing the farm pond," said Susant.

"Finally, a Farm Pond was excavated at 'Kansapadia' farm site over (20 x 20 x 3) metres stretch of land. The farm pond has inlet and outlet as well. It was built at Rs 1.90 lakh, generating 784 man-days under MGNREGA. I am extremely happy with this infrastructure. The farm pond has eliminated my dependency on rains. Today, I can irrigate my land with sufficient water and grow a variety of crops," he added.


Result and Impact


During Covid-19 pandemic, labourers were engaged in construction and grass turfing activities of farm pond for getting daily wages. By the end of September 2020, it was estimated that 1200 cum surface runoff could be collected in the (fully-constructed) farm pond and around 2 hectares land could be irrigated in its command areas. "Besides, soil moisture condition has improved to grow crops in the adjoining areas during Kharif as well as Rabi season," Susant added.

Pisciculture activity has been taken up successfully by the beneficiaries by stocking 4 kg fingerlings in the pond. Vegetables and fruits like drumstick, papaya, banana and other crops have been planted on the periphery for domestic consumption. Mango plantation has been done on 1 hectare land during 2020-21 near the farm pond to strengthen livelihood security of the beneficiary. Susant has planned to grow Rabi crops and commercialise banana plantation.

After seeing the results, farmers of his locality are showing keen interest to conserve rain water through Farm Pond for better production. The idea is being replicated wisely and improving livelihoods. A farm pond can be utilised to address drought-like situations and meet the farmers demands (for water) in a sustainable way.


Mangal Singh Mundary of Rengali village in Lahunipara Block in Sundegarh district has made a name for himself by implementing modern methods of farming. His popularity in the village keeps growing with Mangal's success. The farmer implements Tissue Culture for Banana and Mango farming which is higly suited for the region (Lahunipara). Banana cultivation is less labour intensive and offers high returns, said Mangal.

"Banana cultivation is more profitable than paddy. I invested more manpower, fertiliser and time while cultivating paddy but returns was not encouraging. So, I switched to Bananas." During the year 2014-15, I planted mango in 1 hectare area with the help of Horticulture Department under MGNREGA. From Mango plantation, I earned a profit of about Rs 35,000 during 2019-20.

With the produce from 1.5 hectares land, Mangal got an annual profit of Rs 1.20 lakh. Farmers as well as technical staff from other blocks and districts have visited Mangal's farm to learn the art of Tissue Culture for Banana Cultivation and fruit plantation.

"The State Government and our local district and block-level officials are of great support at every step. In 2018-19, I accompanied a team for to Jalgaon in Maharashtra for an 'Exposure Visit', under the MIDH, sponsored by the Horticulture Department," he said.

During this visit to Jalgaon, Mangal spotted the Drip Irrigation technique and decided to implement it. For the banana cultivation he uses drip irrigation. After returning from Maharashtra, I got in touch with our officials of Horticulture department and sought their opinion on drip irrigation.

"With their encouraging words, I started it and today, I cultivate Banana in an area of 0.33 hectare. The annual profits in Bananas has risen to Rs 85000. Subsequently, I increased the area under Banana cultivation," Mangal added.


The Way Forward


Development of rural heartlands with sustainable livelihood lays the foundation of poverty alleviation. Apart from coming up with a dedicated budget for agriculture since 2016, Odisha has made significant strides in farming and allied activities. The farmers of Odisha have shown great commitment to back the State Government's pro-poor and development-oriented programmes in order to achieve the broader objective. Backed by a strong, skilled and dedicated workforce at the grassroots, Odisha farmers have a long way to go, setting examples for their counterparts in other States.

Farming and Allied activities augmenting targeted livelihood in Odisha


Integrated Farming, Use of Technology, enhancing Livelihood security.


Transformation begins in ways we think …


This Wednesday, we are making an attempt to highlight the hard work, creativity, vision and courage of farmers of Odisha to embrace change (technology), take that risk and aspire for new ways.


Over the past one and half decades, the State has witnessed a transformation in the mindset of its farmers. They are not limiting their perimeter to a single or multiple crops only. They are now not scared to adopt new means of farming. And most importantly, the new generation farmers of Odisha today, are innovative, aspirational and confident.


So, here is the story of two avant-garde farmers, from Bhadrak (in north Odisha) and Kalahandi (in south-western Odisha) who are breaking barriers and blazing paths.


M Behera is a native of Jhinkiria village under Sahapur Gram Panchayat in Tihidi Block of Bhadrak.

Behera, aged about 36, has made a mark for himself in horticulture farming. With hard labour, determination and astute planning, Behera grows a variety of vegetables, cash crops, and flowers in his farm spread over 2 acres land in Jhinkiria village.

The young and ambitious Behera has not just limited himself to cropping and horticulture. He is also into dairy farming, pisciculture and mushrooms. Today, the 36-year-old earns around Rs 2.50 lakh (profits) from different agricultural activities and manages his family well.

The success story of Behera is quite impressive. After completion of Intermediate in Science, Behera could not manage to get into a vocation of his choice. He made up his mind to become a farmer, feed his family, the society, and earn his living from it. During the initial days, Behera tried his hands at paddy cultivation, however, he was unable to earn anything manageable.

"The return on investment was low and profits tapered. Thereafter, I decided to take up horticulture and vegetable farming. There were difficulties in the beginning as I was new to the job but as it is said that 'Time teaches us to grow, physically, mentally, and emotionally.' For me it was professionally as well," he said.

Behera has always been an innovative person who never hesitates to adopt new technology. And this attitude has yielded good results for him. He has set an example before the youths by adopting the concept of organic farming i.e. use of vermicompost, neem cake etc. Besides, he was among the first in his village to implement Hi-tech horticulture methods like use of plug trays, plastic mulching, micro irrigation, protected cultivation and farm mechanization in his field.

"I have been successful in these endeavours. Not only have the techniques augmented my production and income, they have also encouraged local farmers to embrace technology," he said. Today, Behera attends several training programmes of the district as 'Trainer' on mushroom cultivation and motivates rural youths and Women Self-Help Group (SHG) members.

Hard work and success do not go unnoticed. Behera has been felicitated with the 'Best Farmer of the District in Horticulture Sector' award at 'Krushi Odisha' 2020-21. Behera never shies away from accrediting his success to personnel of the Horticulture Department, KVK and RRTTS. Time and again they have helped and encouraged me to adopt modern techniques of cultivation.

"I cultivate brinjal, tomato, okra, pointed gourd, cucurbits etc and marigold. I have also cultivated capsicum in bamboo poly green house of 200 sq metres under MIDH 2018-19 and fetched good profit. I had taken HDPE vermibed, plastic mulching, horticulture machinery under MIDH and portable sprinkler under PMKSY," he added.

Apart from cultivation of vegetables and flowers, he has also engaged himself in dairy farming and pisciculture in 0.5 acres of land from which he makes profit of Rs 60,000 per year. He has been trained by UCO, RSETI for mushroom cultivation. The achievement of this young man belonging to a remote village is pleasing and also a testimony to the outreach programmes of the Odisha Government to promote agriculture and allied sector activities as source of income generation.


Our second story is about Panchanan Dash of Balijor village near Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters town of Kalahandi district.

Kamthana micro-watershed (MWS) under Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP)-XII cluster and Batch-IV of Kalahandi district is under implementation in and around Bhwanipatna. This watershed comprises one village (Kamthana) and three hamlets, located 5 kms from the district headquarters town, Bhawanipatna.

One among these hamlets is Balijor, located around 6 kms from Bhawanipatna. Panchanan Dash is a native of Balijor. He took up a Percolation Tank (project) under natural resource management (NRM) at an estimated cost of Rs 1.72 lakh out of the committee fund in 2013-14. For construction of the Percolation Tank, a user group comprising 9 farmers was formed under the watershed association. The user group contributed a sum of Rs 17,000 to the Watershed Development Fund (WDF) and completed the work during March, 2014.

This structure with a water area over half acre remained full of water about 6 ft to 7 ft depth. Dash and other farmers took up pisciculture with 2,000 fingerlings like Breeding fish, carp fish and Mackerel fish. Dash has planted 100 Teak saplings on the boundary of the tank and also cultivated a huge area with Arhar crops.

During the 2014 Kharif season, one user group (UG) members had taken up paddy over 6 acres of medium land instead of cotton by utilising the water from this tank. Dash has planted 100 Mango grafts near the tank area with water being supplied to the plants from this tank.

During Rabi season, the farmers have taken up onion and vegetable cultivation and pulses like black and green gram. Though there was drought like situation in the entire area, Dash was able to take up these Rabi crops with the help of the water in the tank by lifting.

From Kharif paddy, Dash earned Rs 50,000 from 1.5 acre of land, while from fisheries he has earned Rs 1.20 lakh. It is expected that he will earn another Rs 1 lakh from vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, chili, brinjal, onion and other vegetables.

Further, Dash has planned to develop integrated farming system by taking up massive Banana plantation, house for goatery, poultry, cowshed and duckery.

This year he has already developed duckery over 200 number of Ducks and Poultry (country varieties) with over 100 birds. The spirit and commitment of Dash has become the talk of the town. He is popular as a successful farmer in the Balijor and adjoining villages, setting an example for budding farmers as well as the veterans.


Odisha Farmers Transitioning towards Sustainable Agriculture and Integrated Farming

The techniques used by Dash and Behera are benchmarks in terms of safe farming by way of maximum utilisation of organic inputs. The two enthusiastic farmers have taken up a range of intense and diversified farming activities. Besides being used for household consumption, the vegetables and other produce are sold throughout the year, ensuring a sustainable source of income.

The agricultural practices like integrated farming, crop rotation, organic recycling of farm waste, mulching etc, have multiplied productivity and improved soil fertility. The two farmers are known for their passion, devotion and dedication towards farming, apart from the innovative ideas for getting maximum returns.

The success story of both Behera and Dash reflect the transition of farming sector in Odisha over the past one decade and the pivotal role cutting edge workers played, mobilisation of resources at the grassroots an interplay  of myriad factors in facilitating  the outcomes from Government schemes and programmes .


It is in the impact that we see in people’s lives that tell the story of prosperity, of growth.

Bottom-up Governance effecting Change from the Grassroots

Odisha has stood strong in the test of time. Battered by cyclones, marred by adversities and yet, today it is moving towards becoming an all-inclusive and progressive State by following a governance model that is truly 'people-centric'. Over the past few years, Odisha Government has laid down a strong intent and vision for Gram Panchayats to play a proactive role in State-building. In keeping with the bottom-up tradition, the State government has gone all out in improving the functioning of panchayats, making it stronger. And a pivotal role in the Panchayati Raj system of service delivery is played by the Panchayat Executive Officers or the PEOs.


In this write-up, we discuss the role of four PEOs of Odisha as Change Agents...


Udaynath Pradhan, PEO, Tikarpada Gram Panchayat, Angul Block, Angul:


Udaynath as the Panchayat Executive Officer (PEO) in Tikarapda Gram Panchayat and Purunakote Gram Panchayat of Angul Block which are about 60 kms and 50 kms respectively from the district headquarter. The area lies on a mountainous terrain where mobile connectivity is still a matter of concern.

As Village Level Worker, Pradhan joined in Athamallik Block and was assigned the charge of Kiakata, Lunahandi, and Purunamanitri Gram Panchayats. His responsibilities included selecting eligible beneficiaries for IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Program) loans, Disbursing Old age and Disability pension etc. Pradhan also assists beneficiaries to avail banking facilities.

"Under Proudhasiksha Abhiyan, I took the responsibility of educating senior citizens. Every evening, I used to teach alphabets, basic grammar, sentence formation and signature to the elderly people. Besides, I was also assigned the responsibility digging wells in my area. Being a drought-prone area, the 367 wells that we have dug so far, has been of great help to the native people. Pradhan treads the difficult terrains on a bicycle every day. "On a normal day I travel at least 45 kms on my bicycle and during the rainy season the situation worsens. At times, I have to take a boat because of seasonal rains and floods." Pradhan has consistently achieved a target a nearly 150 loans to beneficiaries per year.

Under MGNREGA the PEO works tirelessly to provide Job Cards to all eligible beneficiaries. The work has enhanced the standard of living of local people. In tribal villages of Tulsipal, the Rural Housing scheme was very popular. In 5 years, more than 100 beneficiaries of Tulsipal availed this scheme, he says.

Pradhan is also active during elections. He educates tribal people on the use of Electronic Voting Machines. The PEOs are de-facto Public Information Officers of the Gram Panchayats. Pradhan is responsible for creating awareness among people about the benefits of RTI Act, 2005.

He is responsible for verification of applications for new ration cards under National Food Security Act, and food security schemes of the State Government. Pradhan works as a facilitator for PEETHA (Peoples Empowerment – Enabling Transparency and Enhancing Accountability in Odisha Initiatives), under which he organises camps for educating people about Government schemes.

Pradhan has worked in Jagannathpur, Matiasahi, Bhogabereni, Tulsipal, and Purunakote gram panchayats. "I have always tried my best to deliver service to the neglected, destitute and needy. My focus has been on elderly people, widows and the disabled," he says. From distributing dry rations during floods, to managing medical camps during COVID-19, Pradhan has been at the forefront, taking the challenges head-on.

"The journey spanning three decades has been wonderful. It feels so nice when you realise to be an essential component of governance at the grassroots, and the most vulnerable sections of the society count on you," he adds.


Madan Mohan Sahoo, PEO, Sundarpur and Kantalbai Gram Panchayat, Tangi Block:


The Gram Panchayat is regarded as a melting pot for all schemes, programmes, and policies of the Government. As Panchayat Executive Officers, we are directly involved in implementation of all development schemes of different departments of the Government, says Sahoo. Sahoo has acted as an instrument of change for Sundarpur and Kantalbai Gram Panchayats in Tangi block. His USP has been implementation of poverty alleviation programmes in coordination with the Panchayat, Gram Rojgar Sevaks and JEs.

"I ensure the works under MGNREGA are utilised to their optimum capacity, thereby generating maximum employment," said Sahoo, who has been working as a PEO since 2011. Sahoo is a workaholic PEO who always travels an extra mile to make sure no beneficiary is left out. Under his supervision, 497 families have got houses under Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana and Prime Minister Awas Yojana. He has been instrumental in constructing community halls, libraries, and park for children in the GPs.

"We have engaged all migrant workers in their native villages to contribute and create community assets. I always aim for holistic development of my Panchayat by approving all community-based project and execution of GPDP Plan on priority basis," he says. Tangi is a cyclone-prone block where affordable disaster resilient houses are necessary. Sahoo has been successful in this endeavour as well.

"Pensions schemes like the MBPY, IGNOAP, IGNDW, and IGNWP have been implemented successfully in our gram panchayats. The ration distribution is strictly done on time. No destitute is left out for not being able to turn up at the centre. We personally make the resources available at doorsteps."

Other responsibilities of the PEO are - ensuring drinking water during summers, community participation in Swacchh Bharat Mission, listing out beneficiaries under KALIA scheme, facilitating 'Jana Sunani' (grievance redressal), PEETHA scheme and Ama Gaon Ama Bikash programme.

The project Transformation of High School under 5T has been an experience of lifetime for Sahoo. Modern amenities such as smart classroom, e-library, science labs and others in Rural Schools is a revolution envisaged by the State Government. The community activity during the peak of COVID-19 was also an experience he would never forget. "Our efforts saved lives. Being a COVID warrior was a matter of pride," he says.

"During my tenure as a PEO so far, I sense serving the almighty while I help people as a grassroot level worker. I strongly believe, the rank and file hardly matter when it comes to serving mankind, what matters is the intent, and an honest one. Sincerity and integrity are the cornerstones of my work which will be there with me forever," adds Sahoo.


Chandan Kumar Sahoo, PEO, Bantala Gram Panchayat, Angul Block, Angul


Chandan is working as the Panchayat Executive Officer of Bantala gram panchayat in Angul. He has been engaged with the Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Department since last two decades. Chandan started working as a Panchayat Secretary in 2002 and was promoted as a PEO in 2009.

"I have learnt a lot during my tenure as a Panchayat Secretary which gives me a leverage while discharging the duties of a PEO today. I am proficient in record- keeping, selection of beneficiaries, managing finances, and overseeing developmental activities," says Chandan attributing the skills to his work as a Panchayat Secretary.

"I have worked tirelessly to provide job cards to beneficiaries of my Gram Panchayat. I still vividly remember the first project taken up under NREGA of Kurumtap GP - overhauling of a tank and construction of a road. The teams visiting these projects post completion praised those whole-heartedly."

Chandan adds, MGNREGA was a revolutionary scheme for creation and improvement of Panchayat assets. It enhanced standards of living of common people by offering a job guarantee to earn their livelihood.

"As PEO, it is our primary responsibility to increase revenue of the GP. The prime source of revenue for GPs is auction of existing property. While, I was working at Chhendipada GP, the income of GP was negligible. The construction of Market complex was undertaken under 4th State Finance Commission. It helped to increase the revenue Chhendipada significantly, amounting to nearly Rs 4.5 lakh a year," said Chandan.

He has been a versatile PEO with hands on experience over a number of schemes and projects. Be it the Sampurna Gramin Rojagar Yojana (SGRY), 'Mo Kudia' Scheme, PEETHA, Food Security, Mukhyamantri Kalakar Sahayata Yojana, Mo LED, etc. All these have been successfully implemented and executed under the supervision of Chandan.

"I was assigned an additional charge of Ambasarmunda GP from May 2005 to March 2009. It was a hilly, interior Gram Panchayat with almost zero network connectivity. The people there mostly belonged to scheduled tribes and were uneducated and highly superstitious. It was a challenge as well as a learning experience to create awareness among the masses there," he adds.

"Like several other PEOs we have interviewed, Chandan echoed the feelings in helping the disabled, elderly and destitute. I have tried my best to deliver pensions to them on time on priority."

The 40-year-old PEO, has gathered immense experience of working together with people and believes in the strength of community participation. Born in Mandarbahal village of Athamallik Block Chandan has five sisters. "I am the only son, and my parents had a lot of expectations from me. Today, as I serve the needy, they feel gratified and are happy," he adds.

Every difficulty in the path of discharging my duties have proved to be a learning experience, said Chandan, who has been instrumental in implementation of 'Biju Kanyaratna Yojana' (BKRY) in the year 2016. The programme was launched on pilot basis in Angul, Dhenkanal and Ganjam. "As Block Nodal officer for BKRY, I had organized various sensitization programs to create awareness among school children, PRI members and general public. After three years, the increasing sex ratio proved that the scheme was a real success in Angul district."

As Block Social Security Officer in charge, I undertook the complete responsibility of building an old age home at Patakmunda GP of Chhendipada Block in the year 2020. The old age home has facilities to accommodate 300 people. Many senior citizens who felt neglected by family have shifted to this facility and are living happily. Chandan has worked as the in-charge Welfare Extension Officer during which he managed 3 Ashram Schools with 1,500 students. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2020, Chandan supervised temporary medical camps, free kitchens, accommodation of migrants, apart from creating awareness among the common people on healthy practices.

"These 20 years of service have given me ample opportunities to work at grassroot level of this three-tire system of Panchayati Raj, and enriched me as a person. My journey has been fulfilling and satisfying," he added.


Santosh Kumar Mishra, PEO, Cheliapada Gram Panchayat, Angul Block, Angul


Santosh Kumar Mishra works as the PEO of Cheliapada Gram Panchayat in Angul block. He has been working with the Panchayati Raj & Drinking Water Department over the past 30 years. It has been a commendable journey during which Mishra delivered services to common people at the grassroots.

Mishra joined the Department as a Village Level Worker at Parjang Block and was assigned the charge of Sarang GP. "My primary responsibilities included selection of eligible beneficiaries for IRDP (Integrated Rural Development Program) loans, Disbursing Old age/ Disability pension etc. I was assigned the task of assisting beneficiaries to avail banking facilities. Every day, I used to travel more than 30 kms by cycle. During that time, the roads were not good, it was a tedious task. But I enjoyed every bit of my job," he adds.

In the year 1993, Dhenkanal district was bifurcated to create Angul district. The district administration invited suggestions from the existing VLWs regarding their place of posting. "As my hometown was Talcher in the newly created Angul district, I chose Angul and was transferred to Chhendipada Block."

Mishra was assigned the charge of VLW of Chhendipada GP. In addition to his own duties, Mishra was assigned the responsibility of Gram Panchayat Extension Officer. "As GPEO, I conducted auctions, organized meetings, inspected GPs and ensured proper maintenance of GP records. In the year 1999, I got transferred to Kaniha Block in Angul District. In Kaniha block, I was assigned the charges of Kaniha and Hariharpur GPs."

During his posting at Kaniha block, Mishra efficiently handled a flood situation Bijigol Gram Panchayat. The villages of Sagadipal and Languabeda were cut off from the mainland due to heavy water logging in the Tikira River, a tributary of Brahmani. Along with the Supply inspector of Kaniha block, Mishra travelled by boat to provide dry ration to the people marooned there. A free kitchen centre was opened there for two days. "I spent the night there to ensure smooth management of distribution of food among affected people and their overall wellbeing."

As GPEO in charge, Mishra conducted the 2012 Panchayat Elections smoothly with the help of all stakeholders. "In the meantime, EVM was introduced for the general elections of 2004. I had attended the training by district administration on EVM operation and later on conducted the same training at various villages of Kaniha block to create awareness among voters."

As PEO, I have responsibly distributed pensions to elderly and the disabled. Mishra prioritised helping out the widows and the physically challenged persons. Many beneficiaries have been provided tricycles and hearing aids during his tenure. Reaching out to the beneficiaries and delivering the services in a hassle-free manner has always been on top of his agenda.

In 2012, I was transferred from Kaniha and was posted to Pallahara Block. I was assigned the charges of Khamar GP. During 2017-18, inclusion of new ration card holders for SFSA and NFSA was conducted. As PEO, I was responsible for verification of application and selection of eligible beneficiaries. More than 1100 household from my GP availed the benefits at that time. The PEETHA (Peoples Empowerment – Enabling Transparency and Enhancing Accountability in Odisha Initiatives) scheme was launched by Odisha Government on December 3, 2018. It was introduced to pass information about Government schemes to rural population. "Under this scheme, we organised camps every month (for three months) at Panchayat-level and educated the people," says Mishra.

During this time, ‘Mukhyamantri Kalakar Sahayata Yojana’ was introduced, under which artists availed a pension amount of Rs 1200 per month. "Total 38 artists of my GP got benefitted in the scheme. More than 900 people availed Madhubabu Pension. Every household of the GP availed 4 LED bulbs (Per Household) under 'Mo LED' Scheme," he adds.

Working and delivering under pressure has been the hallmark of Mishra. He has been successful in discharging almost all duties assigned during this long tenure. The PEO has been awarded on multiple occasions for his services. From enhancing revenue generation of the GP to saving lives during COVID-19 pandemic, Mishra has always led from the front.

"During the pandemic period social stigma was prevalent among the villagers. More than once law and order situation arose due to arrival of migrants. As Nodal officer of the GP it was my responsibility to arrange food and shelter for migrant workers, shift them to TMCs, make sure that they don’t leave the boundary to interact with the locals."

"I have always tried to work among people and cater to their needs. It has been a satisfying career which is going to end in February 2022, when I retire. I have no regrets, rather lovely memories of helping the needy. I thank the Odisha Government for this noble opportunity to serve people," he added.


‘Service to mankind is service to God’ ~ Swami Vivekanand

‘There is no higher religion than human service. To work for the common good is the greatest creed’ ~ Woodrow Wilson


The commitment and sincerity to serve people which is depicted in the aforementioned stories are a testimony to these immortal quotes.

Agriculture and Poverty Reduction: Participation of the Farmers


The role of agriculture in development and bringing in prosperity has often been discussed. From an empirical perspective our focus is on poverty reduction juxtaposed with growth alone approach. The contribution of a sector to poverty reduction depends on its own growth performance, its indirect impact on growth in other sectors, the extent to which poor people participate in the sector, and the size of the sector in the overall economy.

Bringing together these different effects using cross-country econometric evidence indicates that agriculture is significantly more effective in reducing poverty.

The 2008 World Development Report was entitled Agriculture for Development. It was the first time since 1982 an annual report talked about agriculture. The World Bank pointed out in its report that it was time to put agriculture back at the heart of the development agenda because economic growth within agriculture is at least twice as effective as growth within other sectors with regard to reducing poverty. According to a study from 2010, agriculture is even more important than previously believed for lifting people out of poverty.

The study covered some 80 countries and extended over a period of just over 20 years. It showed that growth within agriculture in low-income countries can be five times as effective as growth within other sec tors in terms of reducing poverty. The studies show that a large proportion of the positive effects within agriculture radiate out like rings in water and have an impact on additional sectors through increased demand for goods and services.


We share stories of four Farmers from Bargarh, who have reaped the benefits of Government interventions and marched towards self-sufficiency….


Satrughan Patel of Mandosil village in Paikamal Block

"Our village comprises of around 4,000 people most of whom are farmers. The farmers of Mandosil have been immensely benefitted by the schemes of Odisha Government directed towards agriculture and other vocations related directly and indirectly to farming," says Patel.

Sharing his experience over the last few years, Patel says, "I work in an area stretching over six acres. Out of this, 4 acres is my own land, while I work as a sharecropper on the remaining area for additional income."

During the last three years, Patel has earned nearly Rs 40,000 annually by selling his agricultural produce. The local Gram Panchayat, Block-level personnel have supported him and other farmers of the village to avail loans for farming. "For 3.5 acres land we get around Rs 69,000 as loan. Besides, there is also an insurance for losses we face during droughts or unseasonal rains."

The monthly ration in terms of 4 kg wheat and 16 kg rice per month acts as a major support towards food security. "We grow some vegetables also in our fields, apart from paddy. Therefore, in terms of food, we are self-sufficient. The earning from the agricultural produce helps us meet household expenses, children's education and other miscellaneous activities," adds Patel.

Out of the 96 quintals paddy produced in the last season, Patel sold 46 quintals at the Government Mandi under PDS,"We would be really happy if the entire produce can be consumed by the PDS," he added.


Mamata Bariha of Talgaon village under Alnlapali Gram Panchayat in Bheden Block

Mamata's USP in farming pointed gourd, Potala (Odia) or Parwal (Hindi). While she grows a variety of vegetables, her farm produces brinjal and potala in good quantity and have been acclaimed for quality. "Apart from brinjal and potala, I grow radish, beans and other seasonal vegetables. I accompany co-farmers to the local market where we get a good rate for the produce. Some of the vegetables are consumed by family and friends while the rest is sold locally in our village."

For every cropping season, Mamata and other farmers of Talgaon get an assistance of Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000 from the local administration. Besides, the people from panchayat and block levels assist them with modern farming techniques to get a better yield. The Krushi Vibhag's helpline number is also of great help in time of need, she adds.

"There are 3 Wards in our village and around 80% of the population are farmers. My husband is also a farmer who grows paddy on our own land. The income we have been able to generate from farming has supported the family, children's education and other expenses.


Pradeep Senapati of Ailapali village under Tabada Gram Panchayat in Sohela Block

Pradeep is into mango farming over the last two years. During this period, he planted more than 100 saplings in an area of 1 hectare land. Under the MGNREGA programme, Pradeep gets direct support from the Horticulture office located at Padampur. "We have to furnish map and affidavit following which the farming plan is approved by the Horticulturists. We get 100 saplings for one hectare and 200 saplings for 1.25 hectares land," he said.

"At least 10 farmers with 8 hectare or 20 acres land is needed for the plan to be approved. Total 10 farmers (including myself) are into mango plantation in our village. Total 1,400 saplings have been planted and the growth has been noteworthy. We got into this after realising that people in other villages have succeeded with Government's support," adds Pradeep.

The workers engaged in the farms of Pradeep and his co-farmers get their wages under MGNREGA. Besides, they get other forms of support like technical assistance, fertilisers and irrigation from the local administration. "This apart, I also grow bitter gourd, brinjal, tomato and chilly in my farm. I have worked hard towards self-sufficiency," he added.


Hirananda Bag of Jarhapada village under Jarhapada Gram Panchayat in Attabira Block

Hirananda is a happy beneficiary of the KALIA scheme of the State Government. He carries out farming in around 4.5 acres land which is his paternal property. Their village Jarhapada is fertile and Hirananda grows pointed gourd, bitter gourd, and cauliflower. "I get a good price for my produce in the local market. The assistance which we get through KALIA scheme has backed us significantly for paddy farming. We also get handy loans from local branches of Nationalised banks," says Hirananda.

The 39-year-old farmer of Jarhapada lives in a joint family with his parents and elder brother. Farming is undertaken jointly and the proceeds are shared equally. "We are a happy family. Our children are able to go to school and we are able to fulfill their needs on time. We are thankful for the support of the State Government." Hirananda has appealed the local administration for a lift irrigation point for the village which would help them address the irrigation needs.


We try to bring people to speak directly about problems or issues of poverty in the community make them to authentically participate in their efforts to fight poverty.

This means that the affected people themselves will be the major participants of the intervention to fight poverty.

To facilitate collective and organized actions to help strengthen and empower that it is not enough to provide assistance to individually affected persons alone, but initiate steps are taken to address their problems, we speak to them, hear them and tell their stories.

The people affected identify the issues. It is more effective when issues and problems are identified by the people facing them. They begin to gain self-confidence and acquire capabilities in working together on simple problems. This means that their initial efforts and experiences can be used toward addressing more complex problems and issues. It is in identifying and acting on their initial simple issues or problems that the affected people gain self-confidence and the capability to identify other matters which need to be addressed.

To maximize the poverty reducing effects, agricultural technology and investments must be pursued, underscoring the need for much more local specific analysis of the structure and institutional organization of the rural economy in designing poverty reduction strategies. Odisha's farmers are skilled and hardworking. The State Government has taken a slew of measures to tap their potential and boost the performance of agriculture sector.

Much of the growth in agriculture sector in Odisha is attributable to the rise in production of food grains. The interventions in vegetables and fruits farming have been consistent. All these combined, have helped stimulate other sectors of the economy, since an increase in income of farmers improves their lifestyle and generates fresh demand for goods and services.

We Deliver, We do it Effectively: Tales from Koraput

A significant aspect of Government schemes and programmes is effective implementation, it is about the measures chosen to adopt, to ensure the same.

Transparency, Awareness, and Last mile delivery, together ensure who benefits, and how, from programmes which contribute to public support and confidence.

In Odisha, this holds the key and is the hallmark of governance. Be it a natural calamity, which is no stranger to the coastal State, or a global crisis like COVID-19, machinery has always ensured neutrality, and effective resource allocation.

In Odisha, the schemes for people are rolled out with a far-sighted vision, addressing immediate needs.

Ganesh Chandra Bisoi of Nuagaon in Boriguma block of Koraput district says, "There was a time when I was struggling to meet my ends. We were poverty-stricken. Thanks to the schemes of State Government and timely disbursal of funds meant for beneficiaries."

Bisoi said, "The Government has helped me build a cowshed. Under the MGNREGA programme, I earn more than Rs 200 everyday by working under different projects of, which give continuous support and helps me take care of my  family and lead a respectable life."

He added, "We get  rice, chana dal, kerosene, through the PDS card , on time and in appropriate quantity.

Not a single eligible beneficiary of Rural housing is left out. Everyone gets a pucca (durable) house - the process is very open and accountable, which instils confidence among the people of my region."

Bisoi's wife works with a Self Help Group called the Utkal SHG under which the Government promotes and helps for fish farming. In 2020, the members of this SHG got all resources free of cost from the local administration.

"This year too, the work is on. Fish farming has been a bonus for my family. Today, we are able to earn Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 every month, and lead a happy life together in our village. Mission shakti they identify with making women economically empowered ,and it goes beyond social empowerment”.

"The most important factor being, I do not need to migrate to another State and strive for every penny. Thanks to the support of Odisha Government, I am leading a happy and healthy life in my home State," Bisoi adds proudly.

Quality universal healthcare is another milestone of the State Government. There was a time when Bisoi and many others like him residing in remote hamlets of the State were oblivious of allopathic treatment.

In difficult situations, they had to rush to district headquarter, or medical colleges in Burla, Berhampur or Cuttack.

“Under the Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana, we have access good quality healthcare in our local centres. We get free diagnosis, medicines, and treatment for self and family. From food to housing to medicines, we are covered. We truly feel secured today,” he adds.

Balaram Padiari of Manchahandi village in Murtahandi Gram Panchayat of Kotpad Block lives in a storm and rain resistant house which was built under the Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana. "Earlier, I was living in a thatched house, there was seepage, and a risk of the walls caving in. The scheme has not only provided a roof but also a sense of security for me and family. Immensely thankful to the local administration," he said.

There are six members in Balaram's family and he is a proud owner of a four-room house built under the BPGY. "I came to know about the programme through local advertisements and posters. I approached our Sarpanch and PEO who rightfully took up my case and enlisted me as a beneficiary. Today, this is my new Pucca home and my family is happy and safe," he added.

Balaram echoed the sentiments of Bisoi. He said that the entire process from receiving an application to scrutinising and enrolment as a beneficiary, is neat and transparent. “It augments our confidence and trust with the incumbent Government in Odisha,” both of them stated.

Gaining someone's trust is hard, but it is harder to sustain it. These and many more are testimony to the risk reduction and inclusive growth story  of  Odisha.

For you , “Odisha’s story of Farm sector revolution… “ From Amiya

Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

When change agents from grassroots speak about the tireless endless endeavour , the vision of a government for its people , it is truthful  and thus  powerful. 

From providing timely financial assistance to backing up with technical support and streamlining the procurement process,  Odisha led by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has given continuous priority to farmers and the farming sector , looking  at the farm as a whole.

While policy-making and decisions are expressions of a thought and intent , it is meaningful only when  , there is effective implementation and last mile delivery of different programmes and schemes . 

This responsibility lies with our  staff in the Blocks and Gram Panchayats.

We toured different blocks of the State and narrowed down on some ‘Agriculture Overseers’ who have made a difference. 

Amiya Kumar Nayak, now posted as the AO in Phulbani block is one among them. 

Let us know more about Amiya and his contribution in motivating  tribal farmers, through this piece .

As an Agriculture Overseer, Amiya's responsibility is to educate farmers, make them self-sufficient and act as an interface between beneficiaries and the Block and  District officials. 

A highly skilled and experienced employee of the State Government, Amiya has carried all these tasks with full commitment during his service of 35 years.

At present, he holds two posts - Sale Centre Overseer at Phulbani Block and the Village Agriculture Worker (In-Charge) of Dadaki and Jamjhari gram panchayats in Kandhamal district.

Amiya is responsible for receiving and maintaining the stock of Agriculture inputs like seeds, implements, fertilizers etc along with all types of inputs of demonstration / mini kits. He is also responsible to make the Sale Centre open as per the schedule time and sell / distribute the inputs to the farmers.

As an Agriculture Overseer, I prepare the crop loan for the farm in consultation with the Farm Superintendent/ Farm management Specialist for utilisation of the cultivated area. I pre-position inputs before start of the cropping season. 
Amiya said, "I was assigned the responsibility of preparing Farmers Database. In a short period, amid COVID crisis, I have successfully registered 504 out of 1,460 farmers in the State Government's database. We sync the data of farmers online. At times when they cannot turn up at the centres, we reach out to the villages and collect information physically. There is great support of Krushak Sathis and Ward Members in this work."
"One of the most crucial work the Agriculture Overseer and VAWs are assigned with is, creating awareness among farmers to plant high yield crops. The areas where I work has a difficult (hilly) terrain, amidst a tribal populace he added.”
According to Amiya it takes effort to convince the people to use high yield varieties. 

They are more comfortable with the local variety of Bihana (seeds) in which the yield is low. "We convince them to use the high yield variety using methods such as transplantation and broadcasting dry seeds of paddy. In this process the farmers can sow 18 to 20 kg seeds per acre which has a greater yield than the local variety in which 10-12 kg bihana can be sowed."
Amiya strives to go an extra mile, after accomplishing the routine jobs. It is because of the efforts of this experienced AO, Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) and local people in Dadaki and Jamjhari are farming, paddy, pulses, sweetcorn, groundnuts, and maize.

"We provide them with revolving fund of Rs 10,000 apart from the assistance in farming. The women in our panchayats have become self-sufficient. They earn as well as feed their families with the yield from their farms." Besides, poultry and fish farming are also encouraged here.

"Odisha State Seeds Corporation supplies the seeds which have to be distributed among the beneficiaries on time. We coordinate with the Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA), Block, Sarpanchs, and District-level officials to ensure availability of funds, farming infrastructure, and logistics for fisheries, horticulture and animal husbandry."

"There have been hurdles, but I take each impediment as a challenge. For example, the beneficiaries listed by me under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana are yet to be compensated. Even though the beneficiaries and the State Government pay 10% premium on time, about 300 of them over last 3 years, are yet to get the insurance money," said Amiya.

However, the good thing about this AO is that he is least perturbed with difficulties. Rather utilises each as an opportunity to make the native farmers more self reliant and self sufficient. "I have developed two patches of land measuring 20 acres in Dadaki and 3 acres in Jamjhari for farming and horticulture. Around five beneficiaries have been engaged in Dadaki while four in Jamjhari. We grow Mangoes, Harada, Groundnutm Hybrid Maize and Sweetcorn in these patches."

Under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), he carries out extensive research and awareness programmes. Through demonstration at the village levels, the AO educates farmers on better quality seeds and using farm equipment. The yield in line transplanting method of farming is higher that the local paddy yield. Besides, the State Tolerant and Resistance Variety (STRV) also gives better yield. The farmers get an incentive of Rs 500 for adopting modern methods which encourages them.

"We use control plots to show the advantages of STRV, line transplantation and other modern methods over local farming techniques. By seeing the results live, they concur," added Amiya. During his tenure at Phulbani (more than 8 years), Amiya has disbursed farm equipment to more than 250 farmers in Dadaki and 100 in Jamjhari gram panchayats.

Around 99% of farmers are beneficiaries of some or other Odisha Government welfare schemes. "With the introduction of direct benefit transfer (DBT), I have registered 200 out of 430 farmers in Dadki and 100 out of 200 in Dadki. Their bank accounts are linked to Aadhar and mobile numbers and several forms of financial assistance including subsidies are sent through DBT."

A native of G Udaygiri in Kandhamal district Amiya stays with his family at Phulbani. He started working with the Agriculture Department in 1984 after completing a VAW training at Mahisapat in Dhenkanal. Amiya has had successful stints in Angul district as well. "I prefer working in the field with the farmers, than being on desk. It helps me to understand them better."

Amiya extolled the Krushak Sathis, Sarpanchs, Ward Members, and others for their efforts in the areas under his jurisdiction. Our area is a hilly terrain, making it difficult to set up bore wells or lift irrigation points. Therefore, we decided to distribute pump sets to local farmers. Amiya has distributed 6 pump sets  during the COVID crisis to people in the region at subsidised rates through the 'Jala Nidhi' programme of Odisha Government.

There was time when Odisha was tagged among the poorest States synonymous with poverty and hunger. Under the able leadership and vision of the Chief Minister, the State has marched ahead to be one of the primary contributors to the Public Distribution System. Today, Odisha is a rice-surplus State, and the districts which were once dubbed as deficient, boast as the rice bowl today.

The Agriculture and Farmers Empowerment Department, in cohesion with other Departments of the State Government ensures that every eligible beneficiary of different programmes and schemes gets his or her due on time. 
The achievements would not have been easy, if committed actors were not toiling hard on the ground. They are immensely inspired by a leader who’s vision they imbibe and echo . 

Our change agents have set an example in reaching out to people, address their concerns, make them self-sufficient and aspirational.

The  Anganwadi Worker:- Story of Sumati Kujur

‘The soul of India lives in its villages’ ~ ‘The future of India lies in its villages’: Mahatma Gandhi
In 1975, world's largest community-based programme - Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) was launched in India with a main thrust on the villages. The scheme is targeted at children up to the age of 6 years, pregnant and lactating mothers and women 16–44 years of age. In Odisha Subdega block of Sundargarh district was one of the first .

The Anganwadi worker (AWW) is the most important functionary of the ICDS, acting as the programme’s frontline interface.
Working together with the Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwifes (ANMs), the Anganwadi workers render services in the following sectors: Supplementary Nutrition, Health Checkup, Referral Services, Pre-School Education and Nutrition & Health Education.
The anganwadi worker is the most important functionary of the ICDS scheme. The anganwadi worker is thus   a community based front line worker of the ICDS programme. 

She plays a significant role in promoting child growth and development. 
As an agent of social change, she is also responsible for bringing in behaviour changes especially in health , nutrition as well  as thrift - credit systems . 

Sumati Kujur is an Anganwadi Worker in Kirei village of Bhawanipur Gram Panchayat (GP) in Sadar Block of Sundergarh district. She joined as an AWW in May, 2017, and over the last four and a half years Sumati has proved her mettle by effectively discharging duties assigned to her.
As agent of social change, Sumati mobilises community support for better care of young children. From child nutrition to counselling, healthcare to pre-school activities, she has played a key role in eliciting community support and participation for running various programmes of the ICDS.
The Anganwadi Centre at Bhawanipur caters to a population of 948 and most among them belong to tribal communities. The beneficiary count/capacity of this AWW Centre is as follows: Pregnant Women - 10, Lactating Women - 2, Children in the age group of 6 months to 3 years - 26, and Children aged between 3 to 6 years - 30.
Sumati says, "At present, 21 children come to our Centre, and they are provided with Take Home Ration (THR), dry food, and administered preventive vaccines. We celebrate 'Annaprasanna Divas', 'Godbharai', Parents Day, 'Ankur Divas', Village Health Nutrition Day (VHND), and several other festivals, with joy and commitment at the Bhawanipur Anganwadi centre."
Bhawanipur Anganwadi centre is home to its employees, beneficiaries and other stakeholders. They all work in unison as a family. All the programmes are conducted with active support of beneficiaries and self-help groups (SHGs).
"The ‘Jaanch’ Committee and Mothers Committee supervise and guide us appropriately ensuring smooth conduct of the events," adds Sumati. The Anganwadi centres have adopted the Building as Learning Aid (BaLA) model which has proven very fruitful. It is attracting more children who are provided with toys and other interactive materials aimed at their overall development in the pre-school stage.
BaLA is about exploring and using uniqueness of three-dimensional space and environment as a child-friendly resource for learning and development. It acts as an interface between architecture and developmental needs of children.
"We celebrate 'Girl Child Day', when a number of subject matter-oriented activities are carried out involving young girls. It includes, dance, singing and sports."
On the occasion of ‘Matru Jyoti Divas’, the Ultrasonography of 12 expecting mothers have been done. With this, the pregnant women and health workers come to know about the health of mother and the child. This in turn helps them plan the healthcare and nutrition of the mother and facilitate her delivery at the hospital on time.
“There is a grading system based on the weight of the child in the age group of 0 to 5 years. In Green (grade) there are 37 children, in Yellow 9, and no child at our centre is in the Red grade.”
“We conduct door-to-door visits to educate mothers on the nutrition of their children. It gives me immense satisfaction that during my tenure, there has been no infant or maternal death. I am always in constant touch with the District Social Welfare Officer, Child Development Project Officer and Chief Worker. I seek their advice in running the Anganwadi centre," said Sumati.
After implementation of the BaLA Model, a team of senior officials led by the Chief Secretary,had visited the Bhawanipur Anganwadi centre in March 2021. The team was accompanied by officials of Odisha Mineral Bearing Areas Development Corporation (OMBADC). A picture of the centre on the occasion of Poshan Pakhwada during March 2021 featured on the social media handles of the Women and Child Welfare Department.

The Anganwadi centre carried out multiple awareness campaigns during the peak of COVID-19 in collaboration with the Health and Family Welfare Department. The workers carried out door-to-door surveys and ensured that people with symptoms were shifted to the COVID hospitals.
"I take pride in serving as an Anganwadi Worker. In this capacity, I am able to serve young girls, children, and mothers by taking care of their diet, nutrition, health and good lifestyle. The schemes and programmes of the State Government reaches every eligible beneficiary under my jurisdiction, I am committed to this mission," said Sumati.
The vibrant and zealous woman expressed her gratitude to the Odisha Government for giving her an opportunity to serve at the Grassroots as an Anganwadi worker. 

Sumati is truly an inspiration for the society.

 "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples." Mother Teresa

Mission for Millet: The revival tale in Nabarangpur district

Once a food item for a limited people,especially amongst those in non-arable land, hilly and difficult to cultivate paddy terrains the nutrient-rich millets are now making a comeback in Odisha as a super crop. This unique cereal shares a set of characteristics which makes its distinctive amongst other cereals. It does not require nutrient rich land, dedicated irrigation and consistent care to survive but can easily grow under dry conditions, can cope with soil in scheduled areas and require very limited external inputs. It is used as a staple food with superior nutritional qualities compared to other cereals. High in dietary fibre, this nutri-cereal is a powerhouse of nutrients including iron, folate, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, vitamins and antioxidants to nurture and support human health. It is a super crop identified by the Government of Odisha and nurtured in a mission mode to make it popular and part of every household choice to list in the nutrition dietary. The magic crop that was fast fading away from agricultural landscape is now making a comeback in the Nabarangpur.

With an objective to promote household level consumption of this nutri-cereal, the Millet Mission of Odisha has made local arrangements at district level to provide technical inputs to the farmers and encourage them to cultivate and promote millets among their peer farmers.

Shankar Prasad Pattnaik, a native of Modeigam village of Nabarangpur district, decided to cultivate millets to bring back old cultural and agricultural practice to his district. Motivated by the Millet Mission staff and the encouragement of peers inspired him to adopt organic farming of millets in a dry patch of land. As a beginner, he learned all required skills from the Millet Mission staff and incorporated them in the second year with great passion and commitment to produce more than 10 types of millets with only through organic support. Shankar Prasad argued that millets are not only important for the healthy growth and development of children but have also been shown to reduce risk of serious health complications among adults. “Only governments’ promotion and mission cannot make it part of our cultural and dietary practice. Self-motivation and commitment of farmers can make it a household choice and bring back its old magnificence to our lifestyle. And we have to share the multi-nutritional value of millets to our younger generations in the form of tales, cultural practices and through school syllabus,” says Shankar Prasad Pattnaik.

Under the Millet Mission programme, innovative and tested techniques like line sowing and transplantation are adopted with less seed and root intensification to cultivate millets. In the Nabarangpur district, farmers like Shankar Prasad are provided an incentive of Rs 1,500 incentive by the Mission to promote community interest. In the last three years, because of the Mission mode the production of millets has been increasing in the state. Therefore, government alone cannot procure the millets produced in the state by the farmers. To address this, the Government of Odisha has adopted a multi-pronged strategy for the promotion and marketing of the nutri-cereals in the state. First, the government has increased its target and is procuring more millets in comparison to the last year. Second, to provide a steady market to the produce, the State Government has introduced millets in the Public Distribution System. Finally, to address nutritional needs of children “Ragi Laddu” is being distributed in Anganwadi Centres on a pilot basis in selected districts.

As part of marketing support, the government is promoting millets in the urban and small town pockets through campaigns and exhibitions and trying to enter into each household and secure a permanent space in their food plate.

Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana- Deprivation to dignity...

Jayanti Sahoo, a widow from Angul, who works as a wage labourer had never imagined that she would ever have a pucca house of her own. Of her four children, her two daughters and the eldest son are married. Jayanti lives with her youngest son who completed his graduation (political science honours) last year and is currently looking for a job. After losing her husband to cancer a few years back, she is the sole earning member of the family. Life for her has been a series of constant struggles with lots of hardships and pain.

As a single woman living in a patriarchal society that doesn’t offer much support, Jayanti now takes pride in being the breadwinner of the family. She says, “You can’t imagine how hard it was to live in a kutcha house with the fear of snakes entering the house anytime.” Her trauma was quite evident from the way she conversed during the discussion. However, having exhausted her entire savings on the treatment of her husband and the marriage of her daughters, the benefits of Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana (BPGY) were the only ray of hope for her. The scheme provides an opportunity to the eligible beneficiaries left out from the priority waitlist (PWL) to avail the benefits of the yojana and build a house of their own. In the process, various vulnerable sections of the society like widows, the disabled, HIV patients and fire victims, get a chance to reap the benefits of this rural housing program.

Jayanti Sahoo has built a pucca house with one bedroom and a kitchen along with a toilet under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). The guidance and coordination of PEO and GRS in applying for the scheme has made something unimaginable for her turn into her reality. She is now a proud owner of a house where she can stay without any fear and pride. The scheme has brought back trust, confidence and contentment in her life. Along with this, schemes like Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme (IGNWP) and Public Distribution System (PDS) have made her life easier. She is now financially secure to a large extent and can sustain herself and her family. Her difficulties have come down due to the intervention of various schemes of the government. The faith reposed in the Government initiative by Jayanti has bore fruit and brought happiness to her. This clearly is a story of perseverance and faith in the system which has delivered the desired result.

Dairy Farming: Allied with Maximum Opportunities

Being an agrarian state, a large number of livelihood activities in Odisha are often centered around this sector. In the year 2019-20, Odisha contributed a total of 21.38% of Gross Value Added (GVA) in the sectors of livestock, fishery, share from subsector crops and forestry. The sector observed a growth of 11.92% in the year 2019-20 (Odisha Economic Survey, 2020-21). In a time when we are going through a lot of transformation, agriculture soon is moving from a mode of survival but to a venture that involves profit, if done smartly. Dairy farming is one of the activities that has been proving to benefit the rural households in various aspects. Odisha witnessed an increase in milk production from 1784 thousand MT in 2012-13 to 2370 thousand MT in 2019-20 (Odisha Economic Survey, 2020-21). Along with milk production, dairy farming also provides other sources of sale such as sale of dairy products, dung or usage of dung for biogas, etc. It is environment friendly and the consistent demand for milk helps the farmers in obtaining a stable income. Prabhati Rajender and Jeetu Rajender of Krupasindhupur village in Tangi block are carrying out dairy farming from the past two years and have seen their hard work bear profit.

Prabhati Rajender lives in Krupasindhupur village of Tangi Block. A household with seven members being dependent on agriculture as a single source of income was quite burdensome for Prabhati’s family. But since the provision of cows under the Rainfed Development Program, the family has seen some huge changes in their returns. These cows were provided around two years ago and since then Prabhati has been earning about Rs 200 to 300 per day, just through the sale of milk. In order to protect their cattle, Prabhati’s family decided to invest an amount of forty thousand for building cattle shed. Prior to the addition of dairy farming, the family was solely dependent on agriculture as their source of income. But now they are able to earn a good amount of income through dairy farming. Dairy farming has helped the family with an alternative income generating activity. Prabhati mostly tends to save the profit that she receives through dairy farming for her grand-child’s education. On the other hand, Jeetu Rajender is also a beneficiary of dairy farming who has had a similar experience. Jeetu lives in a family of five members and had received 2 cows under the government initiative. Jeetu expressed that he is very satisfied with the profits that he has been gaining through dairy farming. Earlier he was only engaged as a daily wage laborer but now he has been able to add to the annual income significantly.

Like Jeetu and Prabhati , dairy as a potential sector has been helping the small and marginal farmers generate extra income. It also provides them with a sense of security during uncertain times. With the changing markets and fluctuating monsoon, the farmers are often at the risk of losses, be it flood, drought or a pandemic. In such difficult times, these livelihood activities prove as a blessing for the farming households. Dairy farming has always been a stable and sustainable source of income for the farmers. With the increasing support from various departments of the government, the farmers are now able to expand their business in dairy farming and earn huge profits. Prabhati and Jeetu have seen the rise, now they want to augment it further by trying their luck in other allied activities. With confidence and know-how, they are sure to achieve their desired goal.