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New wheels of rural economy

The Godhan Nyay Yojana launched by the Chhattisgarh Government aims to drive upward a pandemic struck rural economy by innovative usage of commonly available cow dung

New wheels of rural economy
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A cow generates approximately 9-15 kg of cow dung per day. Traditionally, the cow dung is already used in India as a fuel, mosquito repellent or a cleansing agent, but not in its fullest potential or something which can ignite the fuels of the economy. One can't understand the irony behind its incomplete utilisation, given that it is one of the cheapest and abundantly available bioresources on our planet.

When the new State Government was elected in December 2018, our major aim was the creation of a new model of development for the state with the utilisation of its resources to the fullest, to benefit a large section of society which is economically deprived. Starting from, waiving farmers' loans worth Rs 9,000 crore or directly transferring a sum of Rs 5,700 crore into the accounts of 19 lakh farmers via DBT under the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana, to refuel the engine of the rural economy, we did it all to bridge the urban-rural gap, a deep state of poverty and unfulfillment which was created in the state in past years.

'Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana' initiated on May 21 was to be carried out under four instalments by the State Government, out of which three instalments amounting to Rs 4,500 crore, have been cleared by now. With the visionary and futuristic schemes of the state government under the guidance and leadership of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, we ensured that the dark shadows left by COVID-19 pandemic and it's the aftermath, should not leave the people of the state unemployed, hopeless or depressed.

Soaring higher with our ambition of self-sufficiency and sustainability, the 'Godhan Nyaya Yojana' was launched on July 20, 2020, on the auspicious occasion of Hareli. We strived to spin the wheels of the state's economy with something as constantly available and negligible as cow dung.

The Godhan Nyay Yojna aims at the promotion of organic farming, creation of new employment opportunities at rural and urban levels, the fusion of animal husbandry with sustainability and the multi-dimensional utilisation of Gauthans created under the 'Narva Garva Ghuruva Bari Yojana' of the 'Suraji Village Scheme'.

With a total of 6,430 Gauthans in the state, 3,726 Gauthans of the state are actively engaged in the procurement of cow dung. The number of active Gauthans has drastically increased from 2,785 in July 2020 to 3,726 as on 15 November 2020. Cow dung is purchased from the villagers and cow dung collectors at the cost of Rs 2 per kg.

Since the initiation of the Yojana, 2,10,017 beneficiaries have registered themselves in the state, and 1,32,855 cattlemen have been benefited, within July 20 up till November 5, 2020. There has been a progressive increase in the number of cattle herders from 64,007 in July 2020 to 1,32,855 currently, due to the merits of the scheme.

The cow dung procured is used for myriad purposes like the production of organic manure or Gaudhan Vermi Compost. The markets of the state were flooded with gobar/cow dung diyas and earthen pots this Diwali, which were a much cheaper and sustainable option, for people of the state.

Our Gaudhan Vermicompost has come up as an organic option against the extensive use of chemical fertilisers in the fields. It is prepared by the self-help groups in the Vermi tanks and is sold at the rate of Rs 8 per kg. It has been launched as the 'Gaudhan Vermi Compost'. 9,906 quintals of vermicompost have been produced in the state, by the medium of 48,304 Vermi tanks by 1,641 self-help groups. More than 16,000 vermi tanks are under construction. The Gaudhan Vermi Compost is then being sold via QR code imprinted in the packets, with the sale of 1,459 quintals of Gaudhan vermicompost.

Promoting the idea of women empowerment from its roots, the women self-help groups of the state were encouraged to take a step forward towards self-reliance. A total of 1,793 members of 220 women self-help groups, were engaged in various activities under the Yojana, which earned them a whopping income of Rs 44.25 lakh, with an average of Rs 2,468 earned by each woman. Additionally, sheds, storage rooms and washrooms have been constructed in various Gauthans, keeping in mind the convenience of the members of the women self-help groups.

Gauthans are being developed as multi-utility centres in the state with a wide range of activities taking place under them. Out of the total 43 self-supporting Gauthans, 28 are based in Sarguja, 6 in Dantewada, 5 in Balod, 2-2 in Surajpur and Kabirdham respectively.

Additional activities under the Yojana includes the practice of pisciculture in 358 ponds of the Mungeli and Jashpur District respectively. Livelihood activities based on the production or culturing of quail, fish, sugar, bee, sweet potato and ginger, is administered smoothly in Balrampur. Floriculture based livelihood activities are witnessing a spurt in Dhamtari and mushroom cultivation is taking place in BalodaBazar.

Regarding the special activities, 34 rural industrial parks leading to Gauthan Self sufficiency, Kosa silk production in six hectares of land, lemongrass cultivation in three acres of land and apiculture is practised in the Kabirdham District.

Fennel cultivation was chalked out across 30 acres of land in Koriya district and five marked livelihood activities will be conducted in each Gauthan, thereby developing them as multi-utility centres.

One of the major achievements of the 'Godhan Nyay Yojna' has been the installation of biogas plants and it's supplied in Anganwadi centres and homes in Bijapur and Bastar district.

Durg district was shining brightly amid Diwali, with a wave of sustainability in the market with cow dung diyas all around in various forms, shapes, texture and colours. These diyas intrigued people and promoted them to take a step forward towards ensuring sustainability, by making an outstanding income of Rs 6.69 lakh, just from cow dung diyas and 47,000 flowering pots in Diwali. Additionally, an income of Rs 4.50 lakh was generated via vegetable cultivation or badis, in the district.

For research and development, the affiliation of 10-10 Gauthans, under a single agricultural science centre, and development of five Gauthans under an agricultural college through affiliated institutions, is being chalked out.

Today, cow dung has transformed itself into a form of currency in the state, which narrates the tales of self-reliance, employment creation, organic farming, sustainability and futuristic approach towards development. The much-neglected cow dung has started yielding prosperous results for the cattle herders and the cow dung collectors now. The unimaginable and the unthinkable has happened in the state, and we are proud to include our old-aged tools of traditions in our journey of development. And this is exactly what the theme of 'Gadbo Nava Chhattisgarh' preaches, the creation of a new Chhattisgarh from fresh ideas, vision and perspective, and we will continue to do so.

The writer is the State Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, Government of Chhattisgarh. Views expressed are personal

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