TIKIRI/BHUBANESWAR, AUG 5, 2021
The transition of subsistence farming to commercial cultivation for small and marginal farmers in and around Tikiri in Rayagada District, has now become a reality, with Utkal Alumina International Limited (UAIL) driving the change from the front through its initiative “Project Sugandha”. The journey by the subsidiary of Hindalco Industries of the Aditya Birla Group, which took off in 2018, has marked a positive difference in the income level for the beneficiaries too.
The initial hesitancy of the farmers to adopt a new crop is gone. Now, they are a more confident lot, with 102 farmers earning more than Rs 29 lakh by selling lemon grass oil. The project has also played a key role in boosting employment and generating substantial labour days for the locals.
A classic case is Nursingh Dishari of Nuagaon village. “I have never ever had this amount of money in my hand at any point in time,” he said, pointing to his income of Rs 17,277 through sale of lemon grass oil.
Speaking on the initiative, Mazhar Beig, the Unit Head of UAIL said, “Under this project, we offer end to end assistance to the farmers, ranging from cultivation of lemon grass, value addition to marketing of lemon grass oil – all under one roof. The pilot programme has indeed come a long way, which now covers 16 villages, 147 farmers and 198 acres, a huge improvement from just 1 village, 12 farmers and 20 acres in 2018-19.
To ramp up the productivity of lemon grass, the farmers are provided with quality inputs (seeds, fertilizer and pesticides), agro-advisory services and irrigation facilities through government convergence. For value addition, UAIL’s two oil extraction units – one each at Jogiparitunda and Sorisapadar – do the job. On top of all this, the company is instrumental in holding farmers-traders meet for better realization of income and sale of lemon grass oil at the farmer’s doorstep.
After turning around the lives of the local farmers for the better over the past two years, the project is going places, with the company replicating the business model in adjacent villages.
“We have planned to take this programme to 276 farmers, 32 villages and 350 acres with 3 Oil extraction units in coming days,” said Beig. “The success story of Project Sugandha speaks volumes about our CSR goal of promoting sustainable livelihood and has set an example for others to replicate,” he added.