Mising Autonomous Council (MAC) Collaborative Project

The Mising Autonomous Council (MAC) is an autonomous administrative division in the state of Assam, which works towards the economic, educational and socio-cultural development as well as the ethnic identity of the Mising people. The MAC area, with a population of nearly 800,000 – of which 74% are from scheduled tribes (ST) – consists of over 1,300 villages across eight districts of Assam – Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sonitpur, Golaghat, Jorhat, Sivasagr, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. The region is one of India’s most backward areas and is prone to recurring floods and soil erosion. Poverty and unemployment are ubiquitous and livelihoods with old traditional practices have become unsustainable. With no alternative means of livelihood, unemployed youth migrate to cities in search of jobs.

The Centre for Microfinance & Livelihood (CML), an associate organisation of Tata Trusts, conducts multi-thematic interventions in Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya towards community empowerment. CML and the Tata Trusts have entered into a collaboration with MAC to implement livelihood interventions to help the Mising community.

The objective of the MAC Collaborative Project is to bring about a change in tradition and practices through social mobilisation, technology infusion, skill development and market linkages.
CML works in tandem with MAC to increase household incomes to sustainable levels. The interventions touch the lives of some 48,000 people in 121 villages. CML’s interventions are focused on three key areas:

  • Supporting women to earn more through handloom weaving

Mising women have traditionally woven their Mekhela Chador on throw-shuttle looms. CML trained 450 weavers in and around Silikhaguri and Medak villages to work on faster fly-shuttle looms, which gives them the potential to earn as much as Rs15,000 a month. The weavers have organised into a producer group with 150 members from 13 villages. CML also supports the women by providing them design ideas for their fabrics.

  • Increasing farm incomes through integrated fishery-duckery-horticulture project

CML uses local resources to generate extra income and the potential to improve incomes under the fishery scheme is tremendous. Most houses in the MAC area have their own fish ponds, where they breed local varieties for food. CML provided knowhow on breeding techniques and access to quality fish food and fish fingerlings of breeds that have a higher market value. The project aims to develop 450 fisheries across three clusters through proper training and handholding support for inputs required for high yields.

Because fish may not be enough to sustain households in times of seasonal floods, CML also introduced duck rearing. This project is integrated with fishery since the ducks use the same pond, help aerate the water and increase plankton for fish to grow. CML has identified a breed of duck that grows fast and lays more eggs. Each participant gets a starting brood of 30 ducks. CML is also promoting rain-sheltered horticulture.

  • Encouraging paddy farmers to shift to boro paddy

CML is encouraging farmers to change from traditional sowing practices to adopting boro paddy, a summer crop that can be harvested before the rains. As part of this intervention, CML has also organised farmers into self-sustaining producer groups. This helps them pool their resources, avail of loans, manage their finances, and obtain wholesale prices for their produce.

Along with MAC, CML is developing a skilling and research centre where farmers can learn best practices in running livestock businesses.

Area of Operation: Assam

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