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Indian Villages

Gilbert Etienne

Part II – The Green Revolution and After

Chapter 8 – Peninsular India II

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1The North Eastern corner of the peninsula differs in many respects from the areas visited in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. One main difference refers to the higher rainfall, 1,300 to 1,600 mm per year, mostly during the monsoon. This allows farmers to grow paddy, the main cereal, which is usually rainfed. In the whole of Orissa, it covers about 75% of arable land. The terrain also differs: plains, undulating plateau, wide tracts of hills and mountains covered with jungle. Forests cover up to 1/3rd of the total geographical area.

2A sizeable part of the population consists of Adivasi (aboriginal) tribes, which exist in various types of civilisation. A number of them are closer to other Indians in their ways of life and in their agricultural techniques. At the same time, others, especially in remote areas, have until recent times remained distant from the Hindu or Muslim civilisations in their spiritual beliefs (animist), their customs and their agricultural practices of burning and shifting cultivation (jhum) without utilising the plough. One must also mention ancient traditions of kitchen gardens, vegetables, and horticulture within the Adivasi tribes.

Deogarh and Godda Districts, Jharkhand

(former parts of Bihar, now a separate state)

3In 1985 and 1992, I visited villages in Deogarh. The rather heavy rainfall (1,300–1,500 mm) in this region enables farmers to grow rainfed paddy in the bottom of valleys and on terraced fields. Jowar grows on higher altitudes. Adivasi tribes live in the mountains and many of them still practice jhum. The rocky terrain and limited groundwater explain why irrigation covers only 10% of the cropped land, mostly carried out through dug wells, tanks, and some low-lift pumps on rivers.

4The Santals are the main tribe. They settled in this region at the end of the thirteenth century. Unlike other Adivasis (like the Pahariyas, see below), who live deep in the hills, the Santals have been in contact with Hindus, and later with Muslims, and have adopted their agricultural practices. In the plains there are also Hindus. Deogarh city has expanded since independence. Small and medium-size industries have appeared which are often owned by Marwaris, a merchant caste that is originally from Rajasthan, but partly settled in Calcutta. Deogarh is also an important pilgrimage centre, which has boosted small trade.

5In 1985, agricultural change was slow. In a good year, rainfed paddy yields would be around 1,000–1,500 kg/ha. Wheat had been introduced on a limited scale during the rabi (1,000–1,200 kg/ha). Pulses yielded 650–700 kg/ha, a stagnant level as in so many parts of India. Kitchen gardens (producing vegetables, including onions and chillies) were fairly widespread in keeping with ancient traditions that had been adopted or revived in more recent times.

6In villages 20 km away from Deogarh, I came across Santals and Chamars, the latter working for the former and also making bidis (local cigarettes). Some of them raised pigs. Often without land, they were very poor, but because of the absence of landlords, they did not complain of having to face abuse. Potilal, a Santal, owns 0.4 ha producing rainfed paddy. This, of course, does not cover the needs of his household. Nevertheless, thanks to his well, he cultivates fine plots of vegetables, which are sold in the bazaar. He has some milk from his cow. Occasionally, he works as an agricultural labourer. Finally, he collects wood from the forest for sale and sometimes goes hunting. Lively and clever, he is managing rather well.

7In 1992, one notices some more development. Several low-lift-pump schemes have been completed. More loans-cum-subsidies meant more wells, both with and without pumps. Hand pumps are more common for drinking water. The district-irrigated area has doubled to 20,000 ha, enabling double cropping. Yet irrigation remains vulnerable to drought, which can lower the water table or leave tanks half full or even empty. Indeed, the rainfall data for this area, as for many other districts of the region (including Keonjhar, see below), are misleading since rain failures are common. For these reasons, average yields remain low. Animal husbandry is very poor, with mostly local cows, which supply 0.5–1 l a day. Poultry is doing better, along with the sale of eggs. Forests and forest products help the locals to supplement their income through wood cutting (though prohibited), collection of wild fruits and medicinal herbs, and through cattle grazing (also prohibited).

8Near Deogarh, I visit a large joint-family of Santals, consisting of eight brothers, sixty adults and children. They live on 7,2 ha, with 4 ha devoted to paddy and 3,2 ha to wheat and pulses. Thanks to their two wells, equipped with a diesel pump set, they irrigate 2–2,5 ha, giving them 2,000–3,000 kg/ha of paddy. They also irrigate small plots of potatoes, chillies, and tomatoes, all of which they sell in Deogarh. Around fine houses one finds gardens of flowers. Once again, I am impressed by the fine agricultural traditions, including the gardening skills of the Santals, something that was also noticed by L.S.S. O’Malley in his Santal Parganas Gazetteer of 1910 (O’Malley 1984). Goden Suren, one of the brothers, has attended school for four years. He says, “We live better now thanks to the two pumps, which enable double cropping of rice and wheat and the cultivation of more vegetables. We have also started growing hybrid maize. We use some chemical fertilisers.” Some of the family members work as agricultural labourers for landowners. They have a few cows and goats which supply milk. They have two bicycles. While the brothers have been helped by the government, they, like other beneficiaries of loans-cum-subsidies, also complain of ghus (corruption, bribery) which they are compelled to pay to greedy officials.

9The further we travel from Deogarh, the lower the wages get. At a distance of 30– 60 km, they fall to half the amount earned near the city. The differences between the communities are no less striking. Once again we meet miserable Musahars. They dig in the bunds of paddy fields to recover the grain stored by rats. When they catch the latter, they eat them. They seem even worse off than the Musahars in Varanasi district.

10Although acute poverty is comparatively less here than it is in the plains of north Bihar, except among the isolated tribes (see below), the danger signals are obvious. Already in 1991, the average population density in the district was 370 persons per sq km, a high figure considering the available resources. Even out-migration – which has been quite a common phenomenon for more than a century – to the coal mines of Dhanbad, or to Burdwan district for paddy cultivation, or to the tea estates in Assam, is an insufficient safety valve for releasing the social and economic pressures building up.

11In 1992, I moved from Deogarh to Godda district. After leaving our car, we had to walk in order to visit some Pahariyas (Adivasis) living in the hilly jungles; there are many in the region. They practise jhum cultivation like the other tribes, but they do not even use the hoe. They dig a hole in the ground with a sharp stick and put the seeds into the soil – the stick being the most ancient tool in agriculture, something that is still used in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Pahariyas use bows and poisoned arrows for hunting, but they complain that wild animals are becoming rare. Their crops of jowar, maize, and pulses sustain them for four months. For the rest of the year, they live on forest produce. They come down from the hills to sell bamboos in the nearest bazaar and to buy salt, grain, and local liquor. Some of them enjoy a drink in the bazaar before walking home. As for roadside bazaars, they reflect the general poverty of the region. They are not very active. Even fruit is not available. One sees only a few trucks and buses. Bicycles are relatively rare.

12From the foothills, which are inhabited by Hindus, one has to walk 15 km to reach the Pahariyas hamlets. The further we walk, the poorer are the villages. We see dilapidated huts and naked or half-naked children with balloon-like bellies – a clear sign of malnutrition. Women wear cheap saris without a blouse, revealing their skinny arms and shoulders. Many adults and children suffer from all kinds of intestinal diseases and from a severe type of malaria. I sense an inertia that typically affects people living in extreme misery who can hardly struggle with deprivation and poverty, a feeling that I also experienced in other places.

13Have the conditions of the Pahariyas deteriorated in the past fifty years, or have they always been like this? L.S.S. O’Malley in his gazetteer writes, “The Pahariyas are in a state of great poverty owing largely to their drunken habits and idleness” (O’Malley 1984, 126). Such comments may sound partly true, but the explanation smells of Victorian puritanism. How widespread or deep-rooted are the conditions faced by such Adivasis? This question is difficult to answer. In 1954, I had visited Sauras in southern Orissa. I found them an impressive, fine-looking, and well-built people who were fond of singing and dancing. They followed careful agricultural practices, including cultivating irrigated paddy, although they lived deep in the hills.

14In 1978, I visited the Kutia Khonds in Purbani district of Orissa. They lived only 3 km from the road, but they were hardly better off than the Pahariyas. Their food reserves were exhausted in the dry season, so they were forced to dig for edible roots or to hunt with bows and arrows. Six families had gone away because wild elephants had repeatedly destroyed their crops. On top of that, they faced abuses by Hindu moneylenders.

Keonjhar District, Orissa

(Visits from 1984 to 2002)

15Keonjhar district like most districts in Orissa is too big to be run properly, with a size of 8,300 sq km. One sees the same plains, terraced paddy fields with bunds on undulating slopes, and wooded hills and mountains. The picture in Keonjhar district is not very different from the scene in Deogarh in Jharkhand and neither is the agriculture, with its slow growth due to poor and unreliable irrigation. In 1985, the monsoon had been rather good, so the farmers had harvested 1,500 kg/ha of paddy - in a drought year it can fall to one-third that amount. Only a few irrigated plots bore new seeds, fed with chemical fertilisers, and were giving 2,400 kg/ha (in Manchala, the figure was 5,000 kg/ha).

16One does not come across major changes in the cultivation of the main crops, particularly paddy. However, wells, both those equipped with a pump set and those without (often installed with the help of a loan-cum-subsidy), enable farmers (as in Deogarh) to have fine kitchen gardens. These are intensively cultivated with two or three crops per year. In Shankarpur, 6 km from Keonjhar, I met Lachman of the Munda tribe. The Mundas, like the Gonds, are more or less assimilated into the group of Hindu farmers in terms of following certain agricultural techniques. For a long time, Lachman had just survived on small amounts of maize and pulses grown on small plots and also by working as a casual labourer. In 1985, he got a loan-cum-subsidy to dig a well. This brought in additional income from the cultivation of eggplants (brinjal, aubergine) and other vegetables. His net annual income was Rs 1,000. He also earned Rs 5–6 per day, but not every day, working as a casual labourer.

17An Oriya nearby, who owns 1 ha, has been helped by one of his sons who works as a clerk in Keonjhar; the son gives the father his savings. With his three bullocks, he cultivates 0.8 ha of paddy as a tenant, keeping half of the harvest. The father and the five other adult sons work part-time as agricultural labourers, so that the entire family manages somewhat decently.

18In 1992, in Badaneuli village, nearly half of the inhabitants are Gonds. They live in very well-kept houses, freshly repainted. The number of wells is increasing, allowing the maintenance of fine kitchen gardens. By using small doses of chemical fertilisers, some people harvest 2,100 kg/ha of paddy, but for the majority of farmers the yields are stagnant.

19In Bankapatulli, 20 km south of Keonjhar, the contrast between mediocre rainfed paddy and lush kitchen gardens near a well is striking once again. I stop at a Dhobi hamlet. Several of the Dhobis have benefited from new houses provided by the government. As payment for performing their traditional work of washing clothes, they receive 70 kg of rice per year from each household. They have some poultry and sell eggs. As field labourers, they received only half the wages obtained for the same work in more advanced parts of the district. The Dhobis lead a hard life, but without being entirely destitute. Their children are fairly well dressed, and the men were rather alert. In other places, more wells – constructed through loans-cum-subsidies – are also evident, favouring small and marginal farmers. Unfortunately, electricity is available for only 4 out of 24 hours. In some villages, animal husbandry is encouraged and the sale of milk and milk products is promoted, but local cows did not produce more than 2 litres per day.

20In November 2002, during our visit, Keonjhar district suffered from a very weak monsoon. As a result, agricultural losses amounted to 30%, and as much as 50–60%in some cases. Irrigation from low-lift pumps and wells was affected. Out of the 70,000 ha targeted, only 48,000 ha received some irrigation and this was not always enough compared to 192,000 ha that produced poor-quality rainfed crops.

21Back in Bankapatulli, I meet several Gonds. Sarat Naik along with his four brothers cultivates 2,8 ha of rainfed land that is jointly owned. The land gives a good yield of 2,400 kg/ha of paddy. The fields are located in low terraced land, which gets more rainwater, while on the upper terraces the yields fall to 1,500 kg/ha. Sarat Naik has a pair of bullocks and a cow. His son works in a garage nearby. Sarat lives with his wife and their small child. Thanks to his own hard work and cleverness, also helped by a part of his son’s salary, Sarat is improving his life and bettering the living conditions of his family. He owns a wristwatch, a bicycle, and a radio. His neighbour owns 1 ha of land, which produces low-yield paddy, followed by pulses in the rabi. He must rent bullocks to plough his fields. He is just barely surviving. Kishor Naik would also have been in a precarious situation, with 1,2 ha of rainfed of paddy, but he is lucky to have two sons, both married. One works in Allahabad, and the other is a teacher nearby. As a casual labourer, Kishor Naik earns Rs 20–30 per day. The last Gond I meet has no land. He looks after 45 goats, whose owner gives him 850 kg of rice per year. One son works as a casual labourer. The second son is a sculptor who makes small statues of gods and earns Rs 400–500 per month.

22Returning to Badaneuli we meet Rangar Dhar Naik, a Gond. He grows paddy on 1 ha which is partly irrigated, giving a yield, using some chemical fertilizers, of 2,500 kg/ha. His open well with a small pump set irrigates 0.2 ha of vegetables. Here again one is struck by the carefully tended plots. Three crops are grown per year: onions, garlic, tomatoes, and brinjal. Our man lives with his wife, his son and three daughters. He is also the teacher of the village. Alert and happy, he lives in a nice house with white washed walls.

23Next door lives a caste Hindu, Upendra Nath Mahant, owning 1,1 ha with a similar cropping pattern: paddy and 0.2 ha of vegetables are cultivated by raising water with a hand lift from the nearby tank. In addition he earns Rs 20–25 per day when repairing bicycles.

24Several people agree that their conditions of living are improving. They have now not only a primary school but a high school as well. Roads are better, and buses more common. Yet there are still poor people who have to go and work in West Bengal for the harvest of paddy, as is done in Mayurbhanj. Daily agricultural wages near Keonjhar city amount to Rs 40 for men and 35 for women while they fall to 30–35 for men and 20–25 for women in the interior of the district.

25Although the irrigation potential from ground and surface water is limited, more rapid progress is possible. In 1991, out of 622 public low-lift pumps, 97 did not operate, with half being “defunct”. In 2002, out of 756 pumps, 430 are “defunct” and 326 are working according to the district records. As for medium-size canal irrigation projects, they do not seem to progress as rapidly as they should. In 1985 I had visited a fairly large canal irrigation project dependent on a dam on the river Khanjari. Started in 1980, the project was delayed. In 1992, the two major canals were completed but the subsidiary channels bringing water to the fields were missing – a classical defect of many irrigation projects. The records for dug wells show better results. The district irrigable area in 2002 was similar to that in 1992 (that is 68,000 to 70,000 ha) if the monsoon is good. Extension services are increasing their efforts, particularly in the promotion of crossbred cows.

26In Keonjhar, as in Deogarh, the average rainfall (1,534 mm) is misleading, when considering the frequency of drought. In the decade 1976 to 1985, seven years were hit by drought. Later on, one recorded 1,047 mm in 1987, 1,270 for 1988 and 1,970 for 1988 and 1989.

27To sum up, both districts are not static, but face considerable physical constraints combined with an unreliable monsoon. It is significant that daily wages in 2002, as in previous surveys, were about half the rates prevailing in the progressive districts. Greater efforts by the government in terms of providing irrigation and extension services could encourage the process of development. The increasing number of wells accompanied by kitchen gardens is encouraging and is a clear indication of the ability of several tribes and castes. How far this can be expanded given the limited amount of groundwater is a key question that needs to be clarified. As for paddy, which covers more than half of the arable land in Keonjhar, one does not notice a clear upward trend over the years: 1,000 to 1,500 kg/ha rainfed, with a maximum output under very good conditions of around 2,000 kg. Irrigated paddy with some urea and DAP give 3,600 kg/ha.

28The fate of the isolated tribes, as seen in Deogarh and Godda districts, are more worrying. I did not go into the interior of Keonjhar, but it is quite possible that some of the tribes in this district are not much better off than the Pahariyas.

Mayurbhanj District, Orissa

29Mayurbhanj district has two parts: the plains towards the sea, with a number of irrigated fields, and in the interior an undulating plateau, partly terraced, ending in the hills and mountains covered by thick jungles. Adivasis constitute 55% of the population. Until independence, Mayurbhanj was a princely state, which did not benefit from much development.

30I conducted research in the interior of the district in 2004, 2006 and 2008 in connection with an Indian NGO, DULAL which was very ably led by Prasanth Narayanan and his wife Seema, both from Kerala. It is supported by an NGO from Geneva to which I belonged. I would continue to receive information from DULAL until 2012.

31We find similar physical constraints as observed in Deoghar and Keonjhar: a deep water table (100–200 m). The whole state suffers from declining fertility of soils. In Mayurbhanj “Huge degradation of dry land is far more alarming than a few decades ago.” (Baripada, Dist. Office, 2006). Several rivers flow below the surface of the soil so that irrigation is possible only with low-lift pumps. Though the average rainfall amounts to 1,600 mm, drought may be devastating: in 2009 and 2010 production fell by 40%. Electricity is rare. On the road we encounter few trucks and buses; even bicycles and old style bullock carts are not so common here. -. Out of the total population of 2.2 million (2011 census) only 7.5% are urban; 1.2 million people belong to scheduled castes (Dalits).

32Santals, Khulos, and other Adivasis are numerous, besides other Indians, but they do not live in isolated villages. There are few landless families, but people cannot live on plots of land of 0.5–1,5 ha that produce a semi-stagnant yield of 1,000–1,500 kg/ha of paddy, and rarely 2,000 kg/ha in the low lands (which receive more rainwater), sometimes without any chemical fertilisers. On parts of the land local people grow low-yield pulses during the rabi. Cattle and animal husbandry do not play a major role, giving only a low milk output. On the other hand, one comes across small plots of fine kitchen gardens wherever well water is available. Some people make Rs 200 per year through the sale of bananas and papayas grown in their gardens.

33Poverty is acute and widespread. Many people go about barefoot. Many women do not wear a choli, and their clothes are shabby. Many children are obviously not fed properly. There are hardly any pukka (permanent) houses. In one village, I saw only one motorcycle and three TV sets running on a battery. In several villages, daily agricultural wages amount to Rs 20 plus some food, which were the lowest wages I came across in 2004. In less isolated villages, wages were Rs 30–40. Many people go and work in West Bengal in paddy preparation and harvesting since the crop calendar in that state is not exactly the same as in Orissa. They earn Rs 50–60 per day for this work.

34Isolation can aggravate the effects of basic poverty. Simlipal Park, a wildlife sanctuary established in 1956, is home to 65 hamlets and 10,000 people, mostly Santals. There are hardly any schools. Paddy fields are tiny, so the villagers are partly dependent on the forest for their livelihood: collecting the seeds of sal and neem (types of trees), making and selling honey, and collecting and selling medicinal herbs. They sell these items in Jasipur, the nearest market, after walking for an entire day or more and returning home with rice, dry fish, salt, and clothes on their back. One hardly sees any motor vehicles. Even bicycles are not conspicuous.

35At the district level, one notices some progress in fruit and vegetable cultivation and in handicrafts (making ropes, plates and cups out of sal leaves, weaving bamboo baskets), which are sold as far as Rourkela. The lady collector of the district, C. T. M. Suguna, is particularly committed to furthering development, but her impact is limited by the sheer size of the district: 10,418 sq km, one of the largest in the country. In addition, the public distribution system of rice seems to work in a satisfactory manner, as does the school mid day meal scheme.

36The population is rising faster than agricultural production. The former has increased by more than 60% between 1981 and 2001, while paddy yields have remained more or less stagnant. Similarly, progress in other sectors has been slow. According to a survey, in 2006, 42% of the district population was below the poverty line (BPL). Under such conditions, it is distressing to hear that the major irrigation project, Subarnarekha, is still very far from being completed. The agreement for the project, however, was signed in 1978 between the governments of West Bengal, Bihar (now Jharkhand – the state carved out of Bihar in 2000), and Orissa and the work started in 1982. The project was designed to irrigate 94,655 ha in the plains of Mayurbhanj district, out of a total command area of 437,000 ha. The entire economy could have been lifted with the help of the Green Revolution. Instead of going to West Bengal, poor people could have found more employment cultivating high-yielding crops in their own district, as well as in ancillary activities, trade and transport. In several meetings with villagers, they said that their first priorities were water and irrigation.

37In 2008 when we return to Mayurbhanj, the situation has not changed much since our previous visits. In the interior, traffic remains very light on the roads, which are poorly maintained in patches. Not infrequently we drive at 30-35 km per hour. From time to time, we see an occasional motorcycle, rarely any tractors, hardly any cars at all, and a few bullock carts. Rainfed paddy remains dependent on the vagaries of the monsoon, with yields of 1,000–1,500 kg/ha. In the upper terraces or in a drought year, the yield falls to 750 kg. Pulses’ yield in the rabi remains around 400–500 kg/ha.

38To reach the village of Raipada (in Kusumi Block, one of the poorest and more isolated blocks in Mayurbhanj), we have to walk 1 km. We are surprised to see that the village has paved lanes. Under a government scheme aimed at creating employment, at the cost of Rs 400,000, each worker received 3 kg of rice and Rs 30 per day. With that amount of money, 10 low-lift pumps could have been installed on the riverbank in order to irrigate 120 ha of paddy during the monsoon, which would have doubled the yield, or increased it even more. Farmers were quite bitter about the odd way in which public money had been allocated. As for the major Subarnarekha project, one did not notice any progress since 2004. In some villages, tube wells have been installed, at a depth of 130 m in the rocky terrain. As for open wells, they are often dry from November to July, when the monsoons finally arrive. Many villages are without electricity.

39Guna Pinga in Raipada lives with his wife, their four young children, and his parents. The family owns 1,6 ha and also 0.4 ha on which they cultivate oilseeds. Guna uses his pair of bullocks to plough the land because nobody owns a tractor in the village. He harvests 1,600 kg of paddy. He gets 1,100 kg of clean rice, pounded by hand at home since there are no rice mills in the neighbourhood. He also owns seven chickens. He sells some of them from time to time. He uses some of his rice to brew a local liquor for sale. He has a bicycle, two lungis, and one shirt. He wears shoes, the soles of which are made out of old tyres. His life has improved slightly in the last few years. He also works as a labourer, earning Rs 40 per day. His children attend the village school, but the lone teacher there has to cope with 100 pupils.

40Living conditions are much worse in the more isolated villages. Of course, there is no electricity. People go about barefoot and wear very shabby clothes. There is hardly anything in their houses. The local daily wages are as low as Rs 30. Men go to West Bengal for a few months of agricultural work, earning Rs 80 per day. Large numbers of people are classified as BPL, which entitles them to receive or to buy cheap rice from government shops. In several villages, the mid day meal scheme seems to work.

41Most people in Kusumi are Adivasis of different tribes. For once we are away from the caste system. Customs are much freer here. There are many love marriages or only semi-arranged ones. Wives may divorce freely, but the children remain with the father. There are a few landless people, but the average size of landholdings is around 1 ha, which produces the low yields mentioned above.

42During each of our visits, we spend much time with DULAL projects, which cover the poorest blocks. In 2011 it reaches 20,500 people in 380 villages. On such a terrain, the project is, rightly, comprehensive. DULAL is encouraging bio agriculture, because HYVs and chemical fertilizers cannot work due to lack of sufficient rainwater and lack of irrigation. They promote farm manure (people there use wood for cooking and not cow dung), compost, leaves, and vermicompost (an organic manure made out of worms). Paddy yields may reach 2,500 kg/ha in low lands where there is more water from the rains compared to the prior maximum of 1,500 kg/ha. On higher land, under the best manure, it may reach 1,500 to 2,000 kg/ha versus 1,000–1,500 kg/h reached previously. Watershed development is progressing to curb soil erosion and prevent the run-off of rains in order to improve the moisture of the soil. They have reintroduced millet, which had been discontinued earlier, because it is more nutritive than rice. It gives a good yield of 1,000 kg/ha. They also encourage community work, local councils, women’s self-help groups and healthcare.

43Particularly important in this context is the Badi project, i.e., the promotion of mango and cashew nut trees. As one can observe, poor barren soils in the peninsula can bear very good orchards, provided the latter are promoted with great care by adequate extension services, and by teaching farmers how to plant seedlings, how to look after them until the trees bear fruit, and how to fence the orchard. While the trees are still small, interplanting of vegetables is possible. Each tree requires proper doses of organic manure while growing (5 to 7, sometimes 10 kg of compost per tree, per year). While growing, it must be irrigated regularly, if necessary by hand. DULAL promotes 1 acre plantations per family which can bear 40 mango trees or 75 cashew nut trees. Trees begin to yield fruit in the sixth year after planting, and give a net annual income Rs30,000–40,000 when fully mature (according to prices in 2008).

44The promotion of fruit is particularly welcome because the demand keeps on rising with growing middle classes. DULAL is thinking of opening small factories to extract cashew nuts and to process mangoes. Such agro processing is still hardly developed in most parts of the country.

45Since our last visit in 2008 further progress has been achieved. There has been some increase in fields benefitting from higher yielding varieties referred to above, but they fell in drought years. In 2012, local daily wages for agricultural work amount to Rs 80 and Rs 120 for migrants to West Bengal. The NREGA has had some positive effect on Badi, since the programme is now implemented under the NREGA. The latter has also helped in improving the performance of farmland devoted to cereals.

46One can draw some important lessons from DULAL. The prospects for orchards are bright, and now DULAL envisages participating in fruit processing. One must remember that the scope for cashew nuts is particularly wide, since India is importing large quantities of unprocessed cashew nuts from Sub-Saharan Africa ($578 million in 2010/2011 and probably more in 2011/2012)

47Very intensive and committed extension services supplied by DULAL boost the yields of rainfed paddy to between 2,000 and 2,500 kg/ha in good years, thanks to organic manure since chemical fertilizers can hardly be used due to lack of water. However, drought brings down yields. Between 2002 and 2012 (included) there have been 6 weak monsoons and in two other years rains were not adequately distributed.

48The total expenditure to run the project amounted to Rs 135.2 million for the five years from 2007 to 2012, i. e. around $3 million covering a population of 20,500 in 380 hamlets with a staff of 62 persons: 41 in the field, 12 coordinators, and 9 clerks in the head office at Baripada, the district town. This represents a typical success story, which, however, comes at a high cost in terms of human and material resources. Can it be replicated on a very large scale? I will revert to the question in the last chapter.


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