In an effort to enable tribals of Chhattisgarh to produce nutritious food year-long, the Government of Chhattisgarh, the Government of India and the World Bank inked a pact for a $100 million project to develop sustainable production systems in remote and tribal areas of Chhattisgarh. The Chhattisgarh Inclusive Rural and Accelerated Agriculture Growth (CHIRAAG) Project will be implemented in the southern tribal-majority region of the state where a large population is undernourished and poor. The project is expected to benefit over 1,80,000 households from about 1000 villages in eight districts of Chhattisgarh.
For the ambitious project, the loan agreement was signed by Dr CS Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India and Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director (India), World Bank. Whereas, the project agreement was signed by Bhoskar Vilas Sandipan, Joint Secretary, Department of Agriculture, on behalf of the Government of Chhattisgarh and Junaid Kamal Ahmad on behalf of the World Bank.
Dr CS Mohapatra stated, “In India, agriculture is a major livelihood provider and the Government of India is committed to achieving the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022. The CHIRAAG project in Chhattisgarh will lay the foundation for a diverse and nutritive food and agriculture system, mobilise smallholders into farmer producer organisations and increase incomes by improving their access to profitable markets.”
Owing to rich biodiversity and diverse agro-climatic zones, Chhattisgarh open doors to focus on an alternative model of development allowing the tribal-dominated areas to leverage its natural resources, diversify and grow resilient crops and assure a production system that takes care of the nutritional needs of every household.
According to Junaid Kamal Khan, “This project is part of the state government’s on-going efforts to build an inclusive development pathway for tribal communities, with special emphasis on the empowerment of tribal women… By focusing on diversifying cropping systems, enhancing nutrition, and encouraging investments in irrigation and post-harvest technology, the operation will support tribal communities through agricultural growth and increases in farmers’ incomes.”
Moreover, a number of climate-resilient and profitable activities will also be introduced to make agriculture nutrition supportive. Works on water-harvesting structures and irrigation facilities; integrated farming systems blending crops, fishery and livestock production; climate-smart production technologies and practices; developing value chains to ensure that surplus commodities reach profitable markets; and making nutritious food available to tribal households, are areas where investments will be focused.
Further, the project will enable the stabilisation and restoration of the local food supply and production, secure livelihoods and expand income and job opportunities for people returning to their villages in pandemic-affected project areas.
(With inputs from PIB)