Interview

ILSP- Building Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Uttarakhand

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Kailash Chandra Bhatt

The Integrated Livelihood Support Project (ILSP) has adopted a two-pronged approach –to support and develop the food production systems and generate cash incomes through introduction and expansion of cash crops –to building livelihoods in hill districts of Uttarakhand, writes Kailash Chandra Bhatt, Divisional Project Manager, Integrated Livelihood Support Project, Almora.

The Integrated Livelihood Support Project (ILSP), funded by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and being implemented by Uttarakhand Gramya Vikas Samiti, Department of Rural Development, Government of Uttarakhand, is being implemented in eight blocks of Almora district—Hawalbagh, Dwarahaat, Tadikhet, Chaukhutia, Bhikyasain, Siyaldeh & Sult.

The project’s objective is to reduce poverty in hill districts of Uttarakhand. This would be achieved via the more immediate development objective of “enabling rural households to take up sustainable livelihood opportunities integrated with the wider economy”.

The strategy is to adopt a two pronged approach to building livelihoods in hill districts. The first of these is to support and develop the food production systems which remain the main means of support for most households. The second main thrust of the project is to generate cash incomes via the introduction and expansion of cash crops.

Community Participation

Project activities are being implemented through 2,361 Producers’ Groups (PGs) involving 22,038 families from the project villages in Almora district. These groups have been further organised in 40 self-reliant cooperatives, also known as Livelihood Collectives, which are registered under Uttarakhand Self Reliant Cooperative Act 2003. The producer groups are carrying out selected agricultural production activities such as spices, traditional crops, vegetables, milk production, goat farming, and poultry, etc.

Besides these community institutions organised under the project, the project is also supporting 5 self-reliant farmers’ cooperatives’ of Lamgada, Bhaisiyachhana and Dhauladevi development blocks formed under the previous Uttarakhand Livelihood Improvement Project (ULIP).

Due to rain-fed farming practices of the project supported producer groups, these groups are motivated to harvest rainwater and source water for agriculture by constructing Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) tanks. The project has till date supported 848 LDPE tanks with a total water storage capacity of 12,914 kilolitres since its inception. The water stored is being used by members of producer groups in the production of seasonal- off seasonal vegetables and other cash crops.

Dealing with Threat from Wild Animals

There are rampant cases of wild animal menace such as wild boar, porcupine and stray animals creating a constant threat in agriculture production in the project area. The project has supported agriculture production by providing chain liked fencing to prevent the threat from wild animals. Under this activity, 140,596 running metres of chain link fencing has been provided to 2,391 families preventing 197.80 hectares area from this threat. This has not only motivated members of producer groups to improve agriculture production, but also set examples of converting fallow/ barren land into cultivable land with the help of LDPE tanks.

Redevelopment of Fallow Land

Due to the constant migration of people and decrease of interest in agriculture in the last few decades, a huge area of cultivable land was converted to barren and uncultivable fallow land. The project has started the activity to develop fallow land by planting fruits and fodder species in barren land across the project villages so that the group members develop an interest in carrying out agriculture and allied activities. Under the fallow land development activity under the project, the plantation of monsoon and winter season fruits plants species (with a total of 41,164 fruit plants) has been done in 210 hectares of land in the district. The main species of fruit plants planted are citrus species fruits (24,785 plants), mango (3,164 plants), guava (1,041 plants), litchi (306 plants), jackfruit (868 plants), pomegranate (860 plants), aonla/ gooseberry (1,425 plants), tejpatta (1,125 plants), walnut (1,970 plants), apple (1,725 plants), peech (3,635 plants), plum (485 plants) and apricot (50) in fallow land across project villages.

Under the fodder plantation activity in the project, Napier grass has been planted in 195 hectares of the project area.

Livestock Development

To reach to milk producers with Artificial Insemination (AI) facility and other supportive services being provided by 24 trained para-vets, 22 livestock development centres have been established in the district. These centres are collection and storage point for about 800 to 1,400 litres of milk per day which is supplied to Anchal.

Marketing of Agriculture Produce

In the project area, 15 collection centres and 135 mini-collection centres to ensure safe collection and storage of agriculture produce has been provided at the level of Livelihood Collectives. A Hilans Kisan Outlet at Officers Colony, Almora and “Ho Dajyu Outlet & Cafe” in Raghunath City Mall has been started to provide forward linkages to the collected and graded agricultural produce.

To ensure marketing of perishable agriculture produce of producer groups formed under the project, four weekly haats are being organised at Officers Colony, Almora, Aapno Bazaar, Chaukhutia, Ramleela ground, Bhikyasain and Deviyal, Sult.

The project has established community-based enterprises at the local level to undertake value addition and processing of local produce as well as products of producers groups. Some of these enterprises are given below:

  • Agro Processing Centre (APC) is a unit established in extension training centre premises in Hawal Bagh block. Local products such as apple, mango, apricot, garlic, kiwi, chilli, etc are being processed to produce various items such as jam, chutni, pickles, squash, marmalade, etc. These products are being sold under the brand name “Hilans” in the markets.
  • A bakery unit has also been established in the extension training centre premises in Hawal Bagh block. This unit is processing various traditional crops such as mandua, wheat, chaulaayi, etc and producing products like mandua biscuits, mandua bread, puffs, cakes, bun, etc.
  • A rice mill unit has been established in Aapno Bazaar premises in Chaukhutia block. This unit is processing local paddy varieties, grading, packaging and selling them under the “Hilans” brand in local markets.
  • A spices processing unit has been established in the block premises of Bhikyasain block. This unit is processing locally grown spices such as chilli, turmeric and coriander and selling that in powdered form in packs sold in the market under the “Hilans” brand name.
  • An oil expelling unit has been established in Chittorekhaal in Siyaldeh block. This unit is processing locally-grown varieties of mustard and packaging them in different volume packs under “Hilans” brand name to the market. 6. Dalia unit is established in Saraikhet of Siyaldeh block. This unit is procuring organically grown wheat from other Livelihood collectives and processing Dalia under sufficient hygiene and quality parameters. This Dalia is supplied to some Cooperatives to use that as input in take-home ration and also being marketed in different packs to local markets.

Work Done by ILSP under Catchment of Kosi River in Hawalbagh Block

  • All the six clusters of ILSP in Hawalbagh block fall under the catchment of Kosi river in the block. These clusters are known as Shitalakhet, Daulaghat, Patalibagar, Hawalbagh, Matela-Dhamas and Falseema.
  • As many as 307 Producer Groups covering a total of 3,095 households in 88 villages have been formed in the blocks in the said clusters. Through these groups and households, the project is implementing development and livelihood orientated activities in the block.
  • To conserve and harvest the water in the Hawalbagh block, 121 LDPE tanks have been constructed, which has increased 1,580 kiloliters of water holding capacity for the purpose of irrigation and raising the seasonal and off-seasonal vegetables and cash crops. In the present FY 2019-20, 26 more LDPE tanks are proposed to be constructed in the block.
  • Under the fencing activity, 21,102 running meter of chain link fencing been provided to the members of producer groups, which has enabled to protect an area of 32.4 hectares of agriculture land and agricultural production from the wild animals like wild boar, porcupine and stray animals etc.
  • As many as 5,465 saplings of fruit under the use of fallow land activity have been planted in 30 hectares of land. The major species of fruits include citrus species (2165), apple (1025), guava (550), pomegranate (350), plum (250), walnut (100) and apricot (60).
  • To ensure the availability of fodder to animals, Napier plantation in 30 hectares of land has been accomplished in the block. To promote the breed improvement among the dairy farmers, one livestock development centre has been set up by providing training to para-vet.
  • Five milk collection centres in livelihood collectives in the block have been set up by the project, which collects approximately 250 to 400 litres of milk per day with supplies to UCDF (Anchal) Almora.
  • To aggregate and collect the local and the agricultural produce of the producer groups and their members, 1 collection centre and 16 small collection centres have been constructed in the block so far in the block. Outlets like Hilans Kisan Outlet at Officers colony and ho Daaju- Hilans Outlet and Café have been started by the project to sell and market the aggregated and collected produce.
  • Two community and local resourcebased enterprises namely Agro- Processing Centre and Bakery Unit have been established at the campus of Extension Training Centre, Hawalbagh, which are processing local produce like Garlic, Apple, Apricot, Kiwi, Ginger, Finger Millets, Chaulai and Wheat etc.

With all the interventions of the project, approximately 30,000 households of the project area are being benefitted directly and indirectly through income generating activities in the entire project area for better livelihood opportunities.

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