Umendra Kumar Sahu, Project Officer at Adani Foundation
My name is Umendra Kumar Sahu, and I belong to Chhattisgarh. My state has modern, developed cities like Raipur and Bhilai. However, the overall standard of living in Chhattisgarh is highly imbalanced. While the cities boast a high standard of living, the villages, where 80% of the state’s population actually resides, are devoid of even the most basic amenities. It is quite evident that the economic development of the big cities has not percolated to rural areas.
This is what I realized first-hand when I first visited this village in Chhattisgarh. The fact that the social amenities for the villagers left much to be desired was something that did not fit right with us at Adani Foundation. The incidence of poverty was also high. Propelled with a desire to do something about it, I took this matter up with my team and senior management. We made a detailed study of every aspect and issues of this village and then started working on various suitable programmes that could be implemented here to address its issues effectively.
The main source of livelihood for people of the village happens to be agriculture and agriculture-based small industry. However, there was hardly any income from agriculture, and this economic activity has remained merely as subsistence till now. This is because majority of the farmers in this village were still practising traditional methods of cultivation and they work on a very limited irrigated area. This yielded low growth and productivity.
In view of this situation, I was assigned the Vasundhara project by my organization Adani Foundation. Under this project, we applied unused land to agriculture by planting a variety of plants and different kinds of vegetables that would help increase the villagers’ income. Today, everything that is harvested here is fully organic. To this end, we have also started two vermicompost plants from where we source fully organic fertilizers. We are making farmers aware of sustainable technologies and relevant knowledge for agricultural development and better productivity.
As the harvest neared yielding, we realised that it was important for the farmers to get the right market, where they would get the right price for their produce. This is where the women of the village could also fit in by contributing to the local economy as well as building an identity of being self-reliant individuals. Thus, we formed a Women Co-operative Society in the village. Now, women buy the harvest from farmers, process it further and package it. This has enabled the women to take several strides on the path towards progressive, inclusive and sustainable development.
Today, the villagers are employed in their respective fields, earning incomes on a fair and regular basis and all this is happening in a fully sustainable, environment-friendly manner. This has been yet another milestone for our #ResponsibleMiner initiatives that seek to empower the communities living near our mining operations. As I look at all the positive transformations that have become possible in this village through our work and efforts, I am filled with great pride and satisfaction. I feel grateful that with Adani Foundation, I am getting the opportunity to contribute in the development of not just one village but also the entire nation.