Agro Forestry

The agroforestry program is covering 30 villages of three panchayats namely Cheemalapadu, Jalampally and Avuruwada. Cheemalapadu Panchayat is located in Ravikamatham block and Jalampally and Avuruwada Panchayats are located in Vaddadi Madugula block of Visakhapatnam dist., Andhra Pradesh State.

The local tribes are Kondadora, Bhagatha, Gadaba and valmiki. And Telugu is the local language. Majority of tribal area have hilly terrain lands and do shifting cultivation for millets and cashew by seed dibbling. The main source of income that they get is from cashew topes. Vast majority of farmers are small having three to five acres of cashew farms. They depend on money lenders for cashew cultivation at high interest rates. These tribal at low rate sell their cashew yield to Shavukars (Money lenders). The raw cashew is traded unfairly by middle men and deprived of fair prices for their produce. When crop fails they are unable to pay the debt. Major portion of income is catered to settle the debts of money lenders. Due to indebtedness the tribal give part of cashew farm to money lenders for lease. And they work in leased farms of their own as coolies. Thus they are in clutches of money lenders.

The five years of project with cluster approach built VRO image and trust in the lives of tribal in operational area. We are successful in addressing wider range of social issues through the cluster approach. And one such issue and catastrophe that is dealt with successfully is Hud-Hud cyclone which hit Kothakota Region in the year 2014. The tribal framers lost their only means of livelihood in the 2014-cyclone. Thousands of trees were uprooted by the strong cyclone winds and they were left with 70% huge loss.

Against this background we planned Agro-forestry program for the distressed farmers in 2014. We did the needs assessment and designed the program after consulting the agriculture experts. The support that we have rendered to the farmers through our agro-forestry program is uplifting the spirit of tribal farmers. VRO trained the staff and farmers through capacity building on concepts of Plantation, Marking and Pitting Soil testing etc., involving agriculture experts for the expertise to give. VRO distributed the saplings phase by phase. The following table shows the year wise distribution of saplings and their survival percentage.

So far we covered 380 farmers and distributed 22,590 saplings. Now each farmer earns around 20 to 30 thousand rupees per year per acre. It will increase as the years go by. Now our next phase is to enable the tribes to add value to the cashew by cleaning it and sell it in the market by establishing cashew cleaning plants in the tribal area and for which the effort it on. Our plan is to establish 6 cashew cleaning units in this area in the next three years.

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