I am happy to present 2018-2019 Annual Report of Kudumbam in the 37th Annual General Body Meeting. Having a strong motive to establish Bio Village, since 1982 Kudumbam actively involved in reviving sustainable agriculture practices, community forests, and community tanks and in developing eco villages. We could never forget the efforts of (Late)Dr. Nammalvar, (Late) Mr. Periyanayagasamy, (Late)Mr. Rengaraj and Ms. Gandhimathi, in the formation of Kudumbam NGO, Kolunji Ecological farm and the community forests in the villages. Our focus has been in addressing the issues on deforestation, ground water depletion, migration due to monsoon failure and developing alternatives to address these issues. Kudumbam has realized the need for grass root sustainable development alternatives to increase tree cover, to desilt and deepen existing water bodies and to establish new farm ponds, thereby recharging the defunct water resources.
With declining water table, the groundwater situation needs urgent attention and demands a policy change in irrigation and cropping methods and land use.India annually extracts around 251 cubic kilometer groundwater which is 25% of the total global annual extraction and 26 times the water stored in the Bhakra Dam. In comparison, together China and the US extract just 112 cu km. 64% of the wells in the country show a drastic decline in water table. 33%of the wells drop in water table is rather gradual; 3% of the wells is comparatively stable.
In 2010 area under well irrigation dropped by 70%; In 2018, it dropped to 90%. In 2018, 10% of the rain-fed panchayats in India were purchasing drinking water in tanks. In 2019, 60% of the rain-fed districts in the country are purchasing drinking water in tanks. If this situation continues as it is, we are steadily inching towards catastrophe. Water, in any way, is going to be the reason for future troubles and conflicts. As climate change is becoming a recurring future, the stress on groundwater resources would increase. India’s groundwater use was just about 7 cubic kilometer in 1940; it went up to around 270 cubic kilometer at the millennium end. Since 1950, the total share of groundwater in irrigation has nearly doubled. The groundwater extraction rose sharply during the late 70s and 80s.This is the outcome of so called Green Revolution, planting of High Water Utilizing Crops, neglect of Community Water Bodies and Destruction of Community Forest. In Tamil Nadu especially in the drought prone Pudukkottai region, 90% of the bore wells have gone dry and 100% of the tanks have not been filled for 10 years. Tank irrigated rice has not been harvested for the last 10 years. In the dry land of these region around Kolunji, last year, more than 250 farmers have cultivated e.g. Kodo millet (Varagu), Finger Millet (Ragi), Pearl Millet (Kambu), but they hardly got 50% yield due to low rainfall. Nearly 60 farmers cultivated traditional Rice varieties, of which, only 40 farmers got just 30% yield. It is noted that the reason behind the farmers who have succeeded found to be bunding of the land, tank silt application, green leaf manure, penning of cattle and choice of cultivation of drought varieties.
We are involved in 26 panchayats in Pudukkottai district and 23 panchayats in Nagapattinam district. In an effort to enhance vegetable cultivation, we have initiated nutrition kitchen garden in the above pabchayats. In an effort to address crop failure we facilitate seed production in Millets, Pulses and traditional Rice in 11 panchayats. In an effort to upscale cultivation of minor millets and pulses in 13 panchayats in Pudukkottai district and 9 panchayats in Nagapattinam district. In an effort to upscale cultivation of traditional rice, we facilitate cultivation of traditional rice in 7 villages in Pudukkottai district and 4 villages in Nagapattinam district.
In the last 20 years there is a drastic decline in youth in agriculture. In an effort to address the above issue, we facilitate eco-clubs in 17 schools around Kolunji and 7 schools around Tranquobar. Children are involved in planting trees at schools, establishing kitchen garden and herbal garden at homes and preparing seed balls and planting it in village common lands. Our involvement with university students in deepening their insights on the impact of the environmental degradation, depletion of water table, destruction of forest and their role in sensitizing fellow students and local communities in reviving and re-establishing the environment. We have organized 15 days training for Agriculture and Environmental Management/ Science students in which 15 students each from 5 agriculture colleges participated. We organized 3 day training programme for students from 3 colleges from the dept. of Biotechnology and Microbiology. We organized a 3 month training for students from 5 colleges studying Masters of Social Work, in enhancing community participation in management of community water bodies, community forest and in facilitating collective farming, value addition and collective marketing.
We have been involved with two interns from Future Earth, Sweden who stayed with us for 6 months and two students who were involved in a minor field study on Environmental issues and grass root level sustainable alternatives and stayed at Kudumbam for 3 months.
Forests play a vital role in water conservation as trees and other vegetation reduce the run-off and increase percolation of water into soil thereby improving the water regime in the area. The coastal district of Pudukkottai has witnessed immense destruction caused by cyclone Gaja last November including uprooting of trees in large numbers all over the district. The State proposes to distribute 1.80 lakh seedlings under the Tamil Nadu Bio-Diversity Conservation and Greening Project. The seedlings would be planted on patta lands belonging to farmers residing outside the forest areas.
Though the forest cover has remained 20% since independence, in the last 3 decades, drought has become recurring in future. During 2008 –’18, there has been almost 10 years of consecutive 5 drought. Kudumbam’s efforts in re-aforestation of common lands, through preparing of seed balls and planting them in common lands. Establishing tree nurseries with 25 farmers in 5 villages, these tree nurseries are mainly timber trees, fodder and fuel seedlings have been distributed to more than 250 farmers in 10 villages and those farmers have been motivated to mobilize support for department of horticulture and dept. of forest and with their support tree planting has been taken up in farmers’ fields.
Kudumbam’s effort in micro credit is to provide credit together with NABFINS, to farmers’ livelihood initiatives in reducing migration. Decline in the number of rainy days and annual rainfall has dropped from 650mm to 475mm. This has compelled young men between the age group of 17yrs and 45 yrs and girls between the age group of 15 and 35 yrs to migrate to the garment industries, liquor bottling factories or the construction industries. Feminization in agriculture is on the increase. In an effort to reduce external borrowing of the community from private money lenders whose rate of interest is between 36% to 60%. We have formed 207 Joint Liability Groups (JLG) and 20 SHGs, in Pudukkottai district and have enabled 1243 borrowers to avail loan of Rs.4,67,00,000/-from Nabfins at 17.75% and 387 JLGs consisting of 2220 borrowers with a loan amount of Rs. 9,09,19,000 in Tranquobar.
This report narrates our interventions and the impacts and learning’s during the year April 2018 to March 2019. We are thankful to each and every one of you for your continued support and cooperation in enhancing livelihood of vulnerable communities in dry land and in coastal agriculture. We look forward for your continuous support in our journey in building a better World.