The Coconut-Based Livelihood Program in Odisha, India, under the Odisha Livelihood Mission (OLM) in collaboration with ICRISAT, recently converged with a national employment scheme. As a key partner, ICRISAT will be involved in mass-scale plantation of coconut saplings following improved practices using a farmer-participatory approach. It is hoped that this will boost livelihood opportunities and enhance the socio-economic conditions of the rural poor through promotion of sustainable livelihoods. Under this scheme, 20 villages have been identified for supporting the farmers with quality seedlings, integrated nutrient management and plant protection practices.
The state of Odisha has been battered by cyclone Fani in 2019 and by the COVID-19 pandemic this year. Both these factors have caused extreme loss of crops and coconut plantations across the state. The convergence of OLM’s coconut plantation program and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) will focus on the primary sector of the livelihoods of rural poor and work intensively in agriculture, non-agriculture and livestock sectors.
On 3 November 2020, a plantation program was organized by ICRISAT at Kulintira Gram village in Pampalo of Balipatna block, in the presence of the local sarpanch (the village head), OLM officials, ICRISAT officials, and local coordinators. Also, pre-planting activities like soil sampling techniques in plantation crops, usage of MSoil application, measurement of the pit area, mechanical pit digging and pit filling procedures were demonstrated.
The plantation program was inaugurated by Mr Diganta Routray, Project Director, District Rural Development Agency, Khordha district along with Mr Bibek Behuria (DPM), the local sarpanch, ICRISAT officials, OLM officials and progressive farmers from the villages.
This was followed by a discussion on preparation of a road map in convergence with MGNREGS for undertaking different scientific interventions in coconut to improve the livelihood of farmers. The updates on scientific method of coconut plantation, vertical intensification in coconut (multi-storied and intercropping), nutrient management, capacity building initiatives undertaken in the project was shared by the ICRISAT team guided by Dr Gajanan Sawargaonkar, Senior Scientist; Dr Rohan Khopade, District Coordinator; Dr PK Mishra and Dr PC Lenka, Project Consultants.
Mr Bibek Ranjan Behuria, District Project Manager, Khordha, talked about the benefits of utilization of barren land through coconut plantation and multifaceted livelihood systems. Farmers also expressed their happiness over the current activities as cyclone Fani had battered coconut plantations in the year 2019.
“The convergence of different development programs is highly desirable as it saves money, time and scarce resources and also helps promote inter-department collaboration. However, it is also very challenging to achieve it at the field level as it requires a high degree of coordination,” said Dr Sreenath Dixit, Principal Scientist and Head, ICRISAT Development Center (IDC). “I am extremely happy that we have achieved this activity and the initiative of MGNREGS and OLM has made the initiative possible in the state of Odisha.”
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