The watershed programme: a boon to labourers
Watershed programme started in Bennikal village area in Bellary district, Karnataka with the support of HUVF, NABARD and MYRADA in May 2011. This is a four-year programme and the focus in the first year was on awareness creation, institution building and micro planning of the field programmes. As a part of the programme initiatives towards awareness creation, Grama Sabha, Street Sabha and Family visits were organized. In the later stage, the land treatment activities were planned with the active participation of the farmers. The micro plan was consolidated and submitted to HUVF and NABARD office. After approval of the proposal, field activities like bunding were started in the individual farmers’ lands. As per the programme guidelines, the activities should be carried out by the farmers by engaging labourers as per the micro plan
The field programmes started from April 2012. At the beginning the field works started at a slow pace. Many farmers prepared their lands and sowed seeds as per their regular seasonal activities. The field staffs of Myrada were in regular touch with the farmers and continued to motivate the farmers to do soil and water conservation works in their lands. But unfortunately absence of rain for more than a month created panic among the farmers who had already sown seeds like maze, ground nut, pulses and others. The field crops were withered at the tender stage. They faced severe loss due to loss of crops.
Many farmers lost their crops due to a long dry spell. Among them three farmers namely Veerupaksha, Kotresha and Basavaraju thought of going to nearby urban areas as daily wage labourers to eke out a livelihood. In the village itself daily wage works were available in the farm field (irrigated lands) but the wages were very low. The Myrada team members asked these farmers to works in the watershed area instead of going to urban areas. The farmers agreed and they worked in the watershed area for two months and earned fair wages. They worked at trench digging, pits digging for road side plantation, pit digging for horticulture plants and planting of seedlings. During the two month period each farmer earned Rs. 19,000/-
They used their earning for their families. They procured food grains, purchased clothes, cleared off old debts and saved some money. The farmers felt very happy that during this drought season they earned their livelihood in their own village. They said ‘ if we don’t have work in our village, we would have to go out side for wages or getting loan from the money lenders to maintain livelihood’
This is an illustration of the three farmers; there are many like these and other land less labourers who have worked in the watershed area and got their wages as per the unit rate of the work. All have got fair wages through the SAG. The SAG maintains proper accounting system and transparency of all financial transactions.