Progress in 2015-16

The project on income enhancement through appropriate irrigation technology was implemented in full scale this year in 52 villages across 8 Blocks of Kamrup Rural District of Assam and extended to Karbi Anglong district. Initiated as field demonstration to be implemented by Kabil, the project now involves participation of four local NGOs. The target population of the project belongs mostly to Rabha (ST) and Kalita communities.

In the project villages, farmers usually have about half an acre of homestead land without adequate irrigation facility. However, most of them own dug wells or hand-pumps. The water table is high. The general practice of farmers is to lift water in a bucket and then use a mug to irrigate crops in the homesteads. It was felt that the high water table of the area, availability of dug or tube-wells and cultivable homesteads provide great opportunity for productivity enhancement through introduction of micro-pumpsets. It however was also realized that in addition to better irrigation;;vegetable cultivation at commercial scale would require change in mind-set of the farmers, precision in agricultural practices and stable village institution. Large areas in Assam and adjoining States have similar features in terms of water availability and cultivable homesteads. If a sound demonstration in the project area can be established, there would be scope for replication resulting in large-scale productivity enhancement elsewhere.

Pumpsets using three different kinds of energy viz. electric, solar and kerosene have been piloted in the project area. Electric pump sets have been used where villages are connected to the grid. The pump-set is fitted with a single phased 0.5 HP AC motor. The pumpset has a discharge of around 2,000 litres per hour. Besides, a plastic water storage tank is placed on an elevated platform as a water storage tank to act as a buffer. The total cost of the system that includes the electric pump, foot valve, bend, reducers, suction pipe, delivery pipe, wires, switches and other accessories has been a little less than Rs 6,500. Kerosene based pump set (fuel being easily available, even in remote villages) has been very effective in flat topography with low lifts. It is a 17 kg (dry weight) small pump fitted with a 1.5 HP petrol start Kerosene (700 ml / hour) operated engine and gives a discharge of 4 litres per second. It can lift water to about 12 meters elevation. The total cost of the system that includes the pump-set, foot valve, suction, delivery pipes, and other accessories came at about Rs 12, 000. Solar pump-set has been an alternative to the Kerosene pump-set.. It is a 0.1 HP pump-set, operated by 80 W (5 Amperes, 12 Volts) AC motor to give a discharge of 700 litres per hour at 30-meter head. There is no storage battery; thus the pumpsets run only in daytime, but there is a provision for storage of water in a plastic tank placed on a raised platform to enable farmers irrigate anytime at their convenience and as per requirement of the crop. The total cost of the system is about Rs 20,000.

The project helped 204 small farmers to purchase as many number of small pumpsets to irrigate in their homestead. Majority of them were 0.5 HP electric operated pumps, followed by petrol start, Kerosene operated 1.5 HP pumpsets. We are helping women to form their Self Help Groups. Capacity building of village volunteers and their engagement in providing technical support to the farmers continue to be our intervention alongside providing the pumpsets. Farmers used irrigation water for vegetables, betel leaf, black pepper etc. with significant impact.

Another feature of the project has been that, the project provided only 60% of the cost for purchasing the pumpsets as returnable grants. Rest of the finances was arranged by the farmers themselves. A significant share of the returnable grant has already been returned by the farmers. This is being maintained by participating local NGOs as “revolving fund” to be used for similar purposes.

The project to enhance abilities of local NGOs for livelihood promotion of the rural poor continued this year and gathered momentum. Three two-day meetings of the learning group took place this year, participated by the anchors of the member NGOs. A four-day Exposure visit was organised in the project areas of PRADAN at Jharkhand. 17 participants from the partner NGOs participated in the exposure visit. Training programmes were conducted for NGO functionaries on “Introduction to livelihood promotion”, “Learn and practice agriculture planning with inter-phase works”, “Techniques for promotion of vegetable cultivation” and “Training on women SHG promotion (Phase 1) with inter-phase works”.

Besides, there was need based capacity building events for specific NGOs. During 27th to 30th January, 2016 a field based training was conducted for SeSTA staff on INRM planning using MGNREGA fund, which is now being implemented by SeSTA. During 15th to 17th February, 2016 an exposure cum training event was conducted for the staff of seven partners of National Foundation for India (NFI) on INRM – concepts and practices.

Kabil received support from National Foundation for India (NFI) for capacity building of eight NGOs in rural livelihood promotion during the year. Four of them work in Assam, 3 in Odisha and 1 in Chhattisgarh. We have conducted trainings for their staff in INRM, livelihood promotion and vegetable cultivation. Field visits have also been undertaken in their project areas for on-site handholding.

A total of 20 Community Development Plans (CDP) for equal numbers of villages from West and South Sikkim districts have been prepared and submitted to NERLP. With the presentation of final report to them, the project has now come to a close. A CDP preparation manual had been submitted to NERLP in November 2014 when the project began. A problem analysis matrix has been submitted by Kabil along with the final report to NERLP which would help documentation of CDPs by PFTs. NERLP has now shown interest to assign Kabil a similar project in the state of Nagaland.

Project facilitating teams (PFTs), set up mostly by NGOs, are to implement the plans by involving the local communities. A large part of the funds will be provided by NERLP and the rest will be contributed by community through cash, kind and labour. Out of the total plan size of Rs. 2.74 Crore (for 20 villages) NERLP is expected to contribute Rs. 2.00 Crore.

In the initial days of the project, Kabil helped train PFTs of NERLP to understand the nuances of Community Development Plan formation, ways of plan implementation and management. During early 2014, Kabil demonstrated the PFTs of NERLP in Sikkim, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura on how to prepare a CDP through practice sessions, supplemented by classroom deliberations. One training each in West and South Sikkim districts have also been conducted for the PFT members and district level NERLP staff.

Subsequently, Kabil has used the CDP preparation process in each village as a training-cum-demonstration programme for the PFTs.