14 April, 2020

Feeding hope

Himmotthan's support develops Tulsi Devi of Uttarakhand into an entrepreneur with an unusual business — fodder plantation

Tulsi Devi in her field of Napier fodder grass, Rengal village, Almora district, Uttarakhand
Tulsi Devi in her field of Napier fodder grass, Rengal village, Almora district, Uttarakhand
Tulsi Devi in her field of Napier fodder grass, Rengal village, Almora district, Uttarakhand
Tulsi Devi in her field of Napier fodder grass, Rengal village, Almora district, Uttarakhand

Tulsi Devi lives in Rengal village of Dobha cluster in Almora, Uttarakhand with her family. Agriculture and livestock rearing are the main sources of income for her family of 5. However, life in the village is challenging for her, due to limited resources and lack of other opportunities. Inadequate fodder for the cattle and a rain-fed agriculture system has forced many families to work as daily-wage-labourers or migrate to neighbouring cities or states in search of employment. The shortage of fodder led Tulsi Devi to discard livestock rearing as a source of earning.

Himmotthan Society, an associate organisation of the Tata Trusts, conducted a survey to understand the precise need of the area, in order to ensure a sustainable income. One need that the survey highlighted was fodder. Himmotthan, with its experience in executing development programmes, provided support to the local Self Help Groups (SHGs) to start a fodder nursery and fill the gap. This provided a two-way approach to solving the problem – the fodder plantation could meet the needs of local residents for fodder for their livestock as well as generate income for them by selling the saplings of these fodder plants for future cultivation.

Tulsi Devi was encouraged to enroll as a member of Vandevi Self Help Group and start a fodder nursery centre. She was helped and guided all the way from starting the nursery in a small part of her land, to providing financial and technical support by Himmotthanand its partner organisation Chiraag.

Tulsi Devi feels that the biggest impact of this was that her husband now could stop working as a daily-wage-labourer and, instead, they could work together in their own field. They earned a regular income,which helped them to further their fodder nursery to a business and expand their fodder plantation. Tulsi Devi’s nursery ensured regular availability of fodder, which helped many other families to generate a regular income from livestock rearing. These families now sell surplus milk, thereby increasing their income.

Tulsi Devi’s family has also encouraged others to take up fodder nursery as an income generation activity. Today she is a successful entrepreneur and happily says, “this fodder provides food for our buffaloes and also helps us to earn more money. We are expanding the area under fodder plantation and our business opportunities, too!”

This story has been taken from the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and Allied Trusts Annual Report 2019-20