In Drought-Hit Marathwada, Fodder Camps Come to Animals’ Rescue
In Marathwada’s Beed district, fodder camps are coming to the rescue thousands of animals, writes Vivian Fernandes.
It was heartening to see fodder camps for animals across parched Marathwada. The one at Warwati village in Beed district’s Ambajogai taluka had 2,398 animals on a 15-acre campus according to its manager, Tulsiram Phad, a civil engineering student. Phad’s family had been given control. The government pays Rs 70 per animal for a daily ration of 15 kg grass and 7 kg dry fodder.
The camp can accommodate up to 3,000 animals. There is no individual limit on the number of animals. In one of the camps, a farmer had brought 22 buffaloes. Farmer Kiran Valmikrao Chate said he was at the camp since 20 December. Following school holidays, children could also be seen assisting their elders. Apart from rental and payments for their services, Phad expected to earn about Rs 10 lakh from the sale of farmyard manure.
Impact on MNREGA Workers
Unlike drought-affected Bundelkhand, Marathwada has many rainwater harvesting structures. The region is dotted with baodis (open wells) and check dams. More are being built. Panchayats are empowered to commandeer private wells for drinking water.
Sudam Namdeo Kamble, the 65-year-old dalit sarpanch of Vaitagwadi village, has taken over one since December for a monthly rental of Rs 12,000. Apart from water, there is a dearth of work as there is little agricultural activity. Kamble says about 200 people from his gram panchayat have migrated.
At the tribal Bhil village of Pendgaon in Beed taluka, Mukta Sahibrao Pawar and her husband have returned from Baramati after four months. They were paid Rs 100 a day for cutting cane. She is keen on MNREGA employment but her village panchayat is not providing it. At Beed’s Parli taluka, 19 persons, mostly women are cutting terraces into hill slopes to enable percolation of rain water. Each of them are paid Rs 182 a day.
Ecologically Unsuited Crops
Apart from deficient rainfall, Marathwada’s water crisis is blamed on water intensive horticulture and sugarcane. B Venkateswarlu, vice-chancellor of the agricultural university in Parbhani, says the crops are profitable but ecologically unsuited. He calls cane a lazy man’s crop. It might be a smart thing to do because cane buyback at government declared prices is assured.
Tending to his three-month crop, Manohar More of Ukhadgaon in Parbhani district’s Sonepeth taluka, said cane does not have to be replanted for three years because of two ratoon crops.
Gajanan Gaikwad, 21, of Pokarni Phata village in Prabhani taluka was watering his three acre cane crop with tankers. A roadside juice joint makes it viable for him.
At Padasinghi village in Beed’s Georai taluka, Trimbal Ganpat Kale, 65, was paying Rs 1,500 for 12,000 litres to water his orchard of 450 mousambi trees. The income of Rs 5 lakh, he says, makes it viable. But some had decided to cut losses and let the orchards dry.
(This is the concluding part. You can read the first part here.)
(Vivian Fernandes is editor of www.smartindianagriculture.in)
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