ENHANCEMENT OF LIVELIHOOD SECURITY OF TRIBAL FARM FAMILIES OF WEST BENGAL: A SUCCESS STORY
The district of Dakshin Dinajpur of West Bengal has higher Scheduled Tribe (ST) population (16.4%) as compared to state average (5.8 %) and the district is economically backward as there is no big industry, and peoples’ economy solely depends on traditional agriculture and other smaller ventures. So three blocks namely Tapan, Kumarganj and Hili blocks of the district were selected for the livelihood security enhancement efforts under Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) for 4 years during 2013-14 to 2016-17. Interventions on agriculture, animal husbandry, bird rearing and fishery were executed based on the local suitability of technology and farmers’ preference. Improved production technology of jute comprising of certified seed of improved variety (JRO 204), line sowing by seed drill, weed management by CRIJAF nail weeder, balanced fertilizer use and microbial retting using CRIJAF Sona gave a high profit of Rs. 9,900 per bigha (0.134 ha). Introduction of lentil (cv. WBL-77) gave a profit of Rs. 4,800 per bigha and increased availability of pulses in their diet. Among the animal husbandry and fishery activities, improved goat rearing (Black Bengal breed) gave the highest Net Return Per Rupee Investment (NRPRI) of 3.84 closely followed by duck rearing (3.56). Introduction of desi magur (Clarius batrachus L.) cultivation improved farmers’ income by Rs. 20,220 from a small pond (40 m2) within 6 months and added quality protein to the diet of the tribal farm families especially for the growing children. Majority of the tribal farmers (96%) were happy about the improved method of cultivation as the interventions increased their income and enhanced livelihood security. The farm women expressed satisfaction in the animal rearing activities as the additional income from such activities helped them to spend for their children’s education, clothing and health.
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