Located in northeast India, The Similpal Biosphere Reserve in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha earned a prominent place in the world as one of the biggest wildlife sanctuaries in the country, identified as one of the seven biosphere reserves in India under UNESCO's Program. Approximately 73% of all inhabitants are indigenous. Tropical monsoon climate provides ideal circumstances for the development of distinctive biodiversity. Local livelihood in SBR predominately based on subsistence rain-fed paddy, timber and non-timber forest produce and migration. Eventually shrinking land productivity and variable rainfall patterns led to overuse of forest resources, as a local dweller's coping mechanism. To reduce biotic pressure on the forest and its resources, IGS's FADP project came up through integrated livelihood approaches emphasizing on improving land development work, farm yields, and non-farm enterprises with the collaboration of enduring government schemes. The year 2019-20 has successfully led to increasing farmers' additional income sources by reducing forest dependency. A small farmer's testimony is depicted below whose life has changed with the support of FADP program, and there are many like him now.
Birabhadra, 42 years old, was toiling hard with his 20 decimals land before meeting IGS team. Being born and brought up in a small village of Karanjia forest area that embraced with 28 households only, Birabhadra never imagined being a successful entrepreneur once. In 2018, when IGS's FADP team came into the picture for promoting livelihood promotion activities; Birabhadra got selected for piloting integrated vegetable cultivation in his 20 decimal farm strip. He further purchased 55 decimal land, followed by 1.5 acres subsequently. He grew green peas, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, radish and bitter gourds.
"I could not think of being so popular soon. Now everyone knows me by name in and outside of my village. My Back to back victory made me more confident in lifting my business. I learn new techniques on early vegetable farming, season plans, appropriate market linkages, how to deal with offseason, multiple cropping, PoPs and many more. I would look ahead now purchasing more lands adjacent to my existing patches, and to enhance the volume of my business" - says Birabhadra,Gudidha Village, Karanjia, Mayurbhanj
Besides, Birabhadara shared his moments of joy by saying; "I got a new motorbike from my profit this year, my loans are paid off, I have savings for future. All thanks to IGS team for their generosity and kindness."
The project has benefited around 1240 marginal farmers like Birabhadra in 5 blocks of Mayurbhanj district until December 2020.