States across the country have seen drought wreak havoc amongst the farmer populace. The Andhra Pradesh Drought Mitigation Project aims to put an end to their misery.
Five districts, namely Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantapur, Kurnool and Prakasam, were identified for the pilot project, which will be implemented in 330 gram panchayats in 110 mandals. Nine NGO’s will be the lead facilitating agencies, working as a consortium, while Hyderabad-based WASSAN (Watershed Support Services and Activity Network) will be the technical agency. The International Fund for Agriculture Development will put Rs 1000 crore into the project.
Visible parameters, like extensive tracts of dry land, terrible drought conditions and the number of farmer suicides, were used to identify these districts.
When faced with adverse conditions, most farmers, react in a knee-jerk manner, drilling additional bore-wells, or dumping excess fertiliser. Some migrate to other towns, seeking employment, and the most desperate of them all, commit suicide.
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Speaking to The Hindu, G. Muniratnam, the general secretary of the Rashtriya Seva Samithi (RASS) said that, “This project aims at bringing about a psychological change, fill confidence in them and initiate measures to tide over the crisis.”
The farmers will be organised into self-managed groups, called Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO’s). Climactic Information Centres (CLIC), will be set up in every mandal, to oversee farm-related activities.
Agencies and departments will work together, and during the project’s 5-year tenure, the FPO’s will have the required systems, and the agencies will work closely with the farmers for the next three years. The project, which incidentally also has a ‘women empowerment’ objective—capacity building in thrift and backyard cultivation, aims to help the populace achieve economic independence.