KORBA: Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) operated Vedanta Agriculture Resource Center (ARC) is benefiting over a thousand farmers with access to modern farming methods, better technologies and quality resources. Run in collaboration with NABARD at Bela village in Korba, the center aims to make farming more remunerative through increased production and productivity. In the current scenario where agriculture, the backbone of India’s economy is in a state of distress due to the pandemic, BALCO is helping farmers in the region sustain their livelihood, train in modern farming methods, get raw material support and market linkage and leverage government schemes for better returns through ARC.
BALCO and NABARD have formed a farmers’ organization – Korba Farmer Upgradation Producers Company Limited – to run the Vedanta Agriculture Resource Center in collaboration with AFPRO, one of the leading NGOs in the country fostering sustainable livelihoods. On pilot basis, farmers who have a minimum of one acre of agricultural land have been linked to the project. Agriculture experts present at the center handhold farmers as they learn and hone their skills. Currently, the Vedanta Agriculture Resource Center is situated on ~4.5 acres of land, growing more than 30 types of crops, including grains, vegetables and flowers. With associated greenhouses, manure production unit, and soil testing facilities to check PH and micro nutrient levels, ARC is helping farmers boost productivity with existing landholdings and at a lower cost. For every crop, technical know how and procedures are also made available for farmers’ benefit.
Abhijit Pati, CEO & Director, BALCO, expressed happiness over the growing income of farmers and said: “BALCO, through its community development programs, advocates for creating a supportive and encouraging environment for underprivileged women, men and children, and enabling them to strive for sustainable growth. The farming ecosystem is a crucial pillar of India’s economy and the vision of self-sufficient India can only be realized if this ecosystem is enabled and promoted. At BALCO, we are proud to be partners in progress of our communities. Our endeavors in agricultural promotion, formation of women self-help groups, infrastructure development and skill development have helped strengthen the rural economy.”
Expressing gratitude to BALCO for empowering and enabling communities, the sarpanch of village Bela, Mrs. Jaya Rathia, said: “BALCO has undertaken many developmental works in the area since its inception. The company has created opportunities for women to be associated with livelihood activities like poultry farming and mushroom production, and farmers have been immensely benefited through creation of check dams and wells to boost irrigation. Farmers are now getting an opportunity to get acquainted with various modern dimensions of farming through Vedanta Agriculture Resource Center and upgrade their skills.”
District Development Manager of NABARD, Sanjeev Pradhan expressed that the partnership of BALCO and NABARD is helping many farmers in the region. Due to better livelihood opportunities in the village itself, the region’s migration rate has come down. By also giving farmers information about various government schemes that can benefit them further, BALCO is pursuing every opportunity to strengthen the region’s farming fraternity. Santosh Rathia, a farmer from the community, who has been benefited from BALCO’s agricultural incentive schemes expressed his gratitude towards the company for getting him trained on setting up of drip irrigation system, helping in fencing as well as giving new tools and equipment for farming.