This is the success story of the Rural Bio Resource Complex Project (RBRC). This project was taken up by the Union Department of Biotechnology and implemented by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore as a five year project. It started in 2005 in Tubagere hobli covering 8,340 families and 75 villages with a specific mandate of increasing the farmers’ income and instilling confidence in them.
The cornerstone for the project’s success was an innovative idea of forming 10 groups of growers of various crops including jackfruits, flowers, corn, organic farming, rural bio-fuel growers and fish farmers to tap the benefits of co-operative farming . The project has been completed in March 2010. The villages reported an 11% agricultural growth.
Let’s have a look at some specific success stories of the RBRC.
Mr. K. Narasimhaiah in Doddaballapur taluk in Hubli is a happy farmer, for the jackfruit tree in his farm bears nearly 300 fruits annually and the fruit of this 300 year old tree is famous for its taste. Under the RBRC, the University staff advised Mr. Narasimhaiah to raise seedlings from the mother tree for the project. Accordingly the farmer raised the seedlings and supplied it to the project at Rs.15 per plant. The officials handed over the seedlings free of cost to several small and marginal farmers in the area. Now many farmers in the region are selling their fruits for a premium price today as they are considered the best in terms of taste, colour, and appearance. The University, in a bid to encourage many people to take up this particular variety of jackfruit cultivation, started selling the seedlings at the annual Krishi melas, specially arranged jackfruit exhibitions, and other functions. A State level jackfruit mela was also organized. On an average, a farmer earned Rs.10,600 in five days. Today farmers are selling their fruits at Horticultural Produce Co-operative Marketing Society (HOPCOMS), Bangalore from Rs.5 to Rs. 8 per kg.
Amreesh, a 27-year-old farmer from Bachchalli of Doddaballapur taluk is like any other village youth and has barely managed to clear SSLC after repeated attempts. But unlike others, he is sought after by people in Bangalore and other cities, especially engineering colleges, to deliver technical lectures and to provide hands-on-training on vermi-composting. Presently, he earns an honorarium of Rs. 8,000 to Rs. 10,000 a month from the lectures and training sessions that he conducts. He also earns a minimum of Rs. 30,000 a month by selling earthworms.
Things changed completely for him, when his village too came under a pilot project of RBRC. Mr. Ambareesh underwent training in vermincompost preparation. After the training, he was used under the project to help other fellow farmers to set up their own vermicompost units. With his expertise, Mr. Ambareesh now trains even people in Bangalore on vermicompost preparation. Residents’ welfare associations from Bangalore have sought his help to prepare vermicompost from the garbage collected from their area as that would help in solving the problem of garbage disposal. He also doubles as an apiary consultant for his fellow village people and earns about Rs. 2,000 a month from it.
The project was so successful that officials and experts from 23 countries including Japan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Bangladesh and several African countries, have visited the project area to study its sustainable development model. Even the Planning Commission is studying the outcome of this project by deputing its representatives to the project area.
Hopefully, we can see some other parts of India, desperately in need of sustainable farming, covered under other similar projects, once the planning commission decides to implement them.