From a barren wasteland, to a full blown forest, this Jharkhand village certainly knows a thing or two about making wealth out of waste. Bringing in an annual revenue of Rs. 40-50 lakh, from what once used to simply be 365 acres of pure wasteland, is indeed applaudable. And the best part? They did this themselves, without any input from a Government body, or NGO. As one villager aptly said in an article by The Village Square, “Keep us away from government and NGOs. Years will pass without any good work, if these two are involved. The government will waste days in passing files. NGOs can’t move an inch without stakeholders meetings and documentation. We are doing well on our own.”
Doing well is an understatement for the village, though. The village has managed to grow a whole forest of over a 100,000 trees! The forest was given much thought, before it was grown. The matter came up at a village meeting in 2010, after many voiced their worries about the wasteland around their village. It was only when one villager suggested turning these chunks of wasteland into a lush forest, that other voices sprang up with solutions to the same. It wasn’t implemented without a concrete plan of action, as villager Devendra Nath Thakur explains, “Three levels of plantation, three sources of income.” Their first level of income, comes from selling their annual produce, the second comes from training those who are interested, and third, through the sale of dry wood.
The shift to profitable gain wasn’t an easy one. It took them several years before their now lush village got to where it is. The community has divided their profits equally as well, investing where necessary, and giving back to those who contribute adequately. 30% goes towards land development, 30% goes towards the community, 30% goes towards feeding the people who toil in the forests, year round, and 10% on welfare.
The villagers also consider themselves blessed by Mother Nature, as the Domba River used to flow nearby, until it dried up one summer. But now, the river flows through the year. The 2016 monsoons were even better for them. After making a profit from selling grass, they collectively bought around 70 cows, which earns the villagers Rs. 5,000 a day! They remain humble through it all though, remaining thankful to Mother Nature. Jagnu Oraon, another farmer from the village, says, “We are farmers. Nature is our mother. We know the land as well as a mother knows her child. We knew that it would require some preparation but our efforts would yield fruit. That’s what gave us the courage to start agro-forestry in three tiers.”
If you’re interested in observing how this village is flourishing, and wish to learn a thing or two, the villagers have opened their own little training school, at a fee of Rs. 100 per day.
Feature Image Credit: Chhandosree, Village Square
Words: Cara Shrivastava