Rythu Swarajya Vedika village visit report

A group of volunteers working with Rythu Swarajya Vedika(RSV) have visited Chityala village in Cherial Mandal of Siddipet district with an aim to identify a set of villages for adoption by the team and work out a possible action plan for intervention at various levels.

Village Chityala, Cherial Mandal, Siddipet district

The team included Purushottam, Anand, Padma, Samata, Harsha, Usha, Krishnakanth, Madhavi, Kiran Vissa, Seetha Anand, Sripriya and Naveen. Suranna, Beeram Ramulu, Chandu, Yegonda and Sapna joined the team at the village.

The group consists of professionals and activists from various fields, all sharing a common concern for farmers. Though the members have been volunteering in various events and programmes, there has been a lingering feeling that something concrete should be attempted by the group, given that RSV is already working in the villages and with farmers.

The endeavor started with a brainstorming session where people shared ideas and came up with a tentative proposal to adopt a village or a cluster of villages and attempt two kinds of interventions with deep involvement of the community. One, general well-being of the rural community by assessing, intervening and monitoring conditions, infrastructure and services in the areas of education, health, women’s participation, roads, local governance, sanitation, etc. Second is a more comprehensive interposition in terms of livelihoods and income generation and agricultural practices with allied subjects such as water management, marketing, crop patterns etc. A third effort can be of linkages, establishing a system of grievance transfer, communication and fundraising.

It has been tentatively decided to aim to adopt 10 villages, immediately or eventually, in the two mandals where RSV is already working. The mandals are Gajwel and Cherial in the new Siddipet district in Telangana which registered a high number of farmer suicides in the last couple of years. A team conducted preliminary interactions in the village Vecharini and has garnered some insights about what the community feels about the Volunteers stepping into their domain. The response seemed positive and the local community expressed willingness to participate in our experiment.

As a parallel, the whole team visited another village in the same Mandal, named Chityal, and decided to start the process of community engagement in right earnest.

As of now, the team aims to start off with auxiliary interventions such as encouraging kitchen gardens in every household and in the school, cleaning up and restoration of school grounds, restoration of a defunct water plant, a health programme for women and adolescent girls in the village through a medical camp, linking it with a nutrition programme, and a follow-up plan.

The model of 360 degree development that we have in mind needs to be streamlined, fine-tuned, budgeted and then consolidated for replication in other villages. The idea is to have a prototype that can be applied directly and immediately in the field as and when new volunteers join us.

The 360 degree development plan began with a field trip. A visit to the village of Chityal, some 80 km from Hyderabad, has been planned. As a first step, a Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) was organized involving villagers and RSV volunteers in Chityala Village so as to both map out the resources and the social lay-out of the village and also involve the villagers in an interaction, drawing out their responses on various issues. As a villager exclaimed at the end of the PRA, ‘that was all about the Chityala village’.

The response of the villagers has been quite enthusiastic. They spent considerable time in contributing to the resource mapping and then accompanying the Team in touring the village. The trip ended with an impromptu meeting with the leader of a Women SHG.

While the villagers seem to be open to new ideas and willing to take our support, it appears that some crucial areas are still barred for discussion as of now. They include water management, cropping pattern etc.

Young people in the village seem uninvolved and need to be drawn into action gradually.

Small, harmless but useful interventions such as restoring the school, kitchen garden propagation and women’s health support may help us gain trust from the villagers, paving way for agriculture-related interventions.

Observations in the village

  • Many farmers applied and paid DD for drip irrigation equipments but till now they didn’t get those equipments
  • Drainage is not cleaned as the workers are getting very less salaries and almost all open drains are choked with sewage and plastic waste.
  • NPM was implemented until last year but fizzled out.
  • There is monkey and wild boar problem in the village. That’s why villagers are not growing vegetable crops even at houses.
  • There are no fertilizers and seeds shops in the village. Villagers purchase from nearby towns Cherial/Jangaon.
  • Only 40% of Rainwater harvesting structures are properly built.
  • Drinking water is bought from Cherial for 15/- per litre although GP supplies water.
  • There was 3 years continuous drought. This year water problem is solved due to heavy rains.

One of the village tanks after a heavy rainy season.

  • Government is constructing a canal which is not completed and water is not let inside the village.
  • Lack of awareness on Government Schemes and sustainable agriculture is found in the villagers.

Observations in Govt run School

  • Water RO system which was already installed is not working. There is a need to check whether there is a repair or pending electricity bill.
  • No toilet facility to students. Existing toilets are locked and used only by teachers. Children are forced to go outside into the fields.
  • Rain water harvesting structure has collapsed
  • Premises are badly maintained
  • There is a large open space around the school but cannot be utilised as a playground.
  • School children are working in fields though it is unclear whether they do that on regular working days as well.

Proposed activities

  1. Schools
  • Pursue with Panchayat about RO and making RO to workable condition.
  • Facilitating school to repair the existing 6 toilets which are locked and put to use for students
  • Support school to repair the room which was earlier used for Anganwadi centre and again handover it to Anganwadi.
  • Kitchen Garden can be set up use in Midday meals.
  • More trees need to be planted and defined play areas for the younger kids can be arranged.
  1. SHGs

Activities can be taken up in association with women groups like:

  • Kitchen garden at households
  • Health improvement campaigns especially Hemoglobin can be taken up with a sustained intervention through medical camps and follow-up.
  • The SHGs can be utilised for Quick surveys as they have knowledge of doing surveys.
  1. Government Schemes

During village study it is observed that there is very less awareness on the schemes. And so following activities can be taken up:

  • Consolidation of the schemes available in the departments
  • Prepare promotional material like posters or pamphlets etc
  • Awareness campaigns in the village
  • Making them to apply for the relevant schemes with in the Government specified time frame.
  1. Loans and Insurance — The above activities can be done for the loans and insurance information
  2. Farmer Cooperatives

Farmers has to be motivated to form cooperatives to solve their problems within themselves and to represent as a group for solving their village problems. They can be guided for sometime for making them self sustaining.

  1. Composting and Rainwater Harvesting structures
  • Borewell survey can be taken up
  • Water audit can be conducted at Micro level– for water to Kitchen garden and rainwater harvesting process. 2). Macro level– for cultivation purpose

Findings during village mapping

The agriculture land of village was given numbers in the map. The following are the block wise details:

  1. Block 1:
  • Crops are maize with as intercrop and cotton
  • Land is of 200 acres
  • 20–30 borewells were tried but all of them failed
  • Soil is red soil and area in rain fed
  1. Block 2:
  • Paddy is mainly grown crop
  • This block is very close to stream
  • Area is 50 acres
  1. Block 3:
  • Dry land of 20 acres with ఎనె రాయీ.
  • Paddy is grown
  1. Block 4:
  • Total land is 500 acres with mixed land
  • Mostly Paddy is grown and cotton is grown during less water available periods
  • This area is located above Pallecheruvu
  • Banjaru Yellaiah grows cotton crop in 1 1/2 acres but this year crop damage happened due to heavy rain.
  • Beeraiah grow Paddy and cotton in 6 acres. He has 1 borewell and 1 shared borewell
  • Pedapochaiah has 2 acres land
  1. Block 5:
  • Cotton and maize is grown in 20–30 acres of land
  1. Block 6 & 7:
  • Paddy is grown in 150 acres land.
  • This block is mixture of fertile (రేగడి) and dry (చౌడు) land.
  • It’s near Kindicheruvu
  1. Block 8:
  • This area is about 500 to 800 acres and most of it is Government land.
  • Paddy, Maize, cotton, black gram (కంది) and green gram (పెసర్లు) are grown here. Few more crops like mango, guava, cow pea (బొబ్బర్లు)
  • There is lot of monkey problem
  1. Block 9:
  • 100 acres land located under Meedicheruvu
  • There is a stream in this land
  • Main crop is paddy and its fertile (రేగడి) land
  1. Block 10:
  • Total area is about 150 acres with fertile and dry land areas.
  • About 30 acres is Government Land
  • These are assigned lands to SCs and BCs
  • Paddy and cotton are grown with 30 borewells
  • Other crops like coriander (దనియాలు) and wheat.
  • Vegetable Crops — These crops are grown in about 100 acres near Meedicheruvu. Tomatos, Mirchi and Brinjal are grown.
  • They bought a Langur(కొండెంగా) for 10,000/- from Vijayawada to get rid of monkey’s problem.
  • Milk collection centre is run by Vijaya Dairy
  • So many teak and palm trees are also found in the village.
  • 45 SHG groups are found in the village with a size of 10–15 members. They conduct regular monthly meetings on 22nd every month. They are involved in financial help to the members. And also they are involved in the surveys by Government. Presently two main schemes i.e., Abayahastam and vunnati are being availed by women in the groups.

School

  • It is an upper primary school (Telugu medium) with 171 students’ strength
  • Thursday and Monday eggs are given to students
  • Old and new water tank are present in the school premises
  • The school campus also has two small temples and a dysfunctional RO plant.
  • It also has a water conservation structure constructed during YSR’s time but has never been utilised.

An abandoned classroom in the school and the dysfunctional RO. The toilets are constructed next to the new water tank, constructed for Mission Bhagiratha.

Important contact persons in the village

Mahipal Reddy, Pedda Pochaiah, Sriramulu, Manikanta Kanakaya, Narayana Reddy, Surrender Reddy, Sambaiah, Beeraiah, Balaraju, Narsimhulu, Anjaiah, Yellaiah, Raj Kumar, Mallaiah, Ramesh and Padma