Thursday, November 15, 2018

Transforming rural India through large-scale horticulture

My endeavor is to transform rural India by creating a replicable model using technology and new techniques. The drought this year in Marathawada has thrown in an intense challenge to put in place sustainable and long-term solutions. These solutions should be able increase income by ten times in the next five years and insulate farmers from these periodic droughts.

We are embarking on creating a lasting solution by planting 10,00,000 fruit trees across the taluka in the next monsoon. This is over and above, ensuring supply of drinking water to all the 106 villages in Parli Taluka, Beed.

On the 3rd, 4th and 5th Dec ’18, we intend to take over 200 farmers who are interested in horticulture from these 106 villages for field visit and technical presentations and lectures to Jain Hills, Jalgaon. Jain Irrigations is India’s finest company with multiple agronomists and scientists in the field of agriculture and horticulture.

Posters are being put in all villages and sarpanch and other eminent people in all villages are being called for the trip. We wish to address the following issues:

1. Out of 10 lakh fruit trees to be grown by the farmers, which fruit trees to grow. Our first priority - Kesar Mango (UHDP), Cashew, Moringa, Mulberry and Sitafal. Next priority - Peru, Pomengranate, Nimbu, Chinch, Papaya etc
2. Water requirements (month wise) for each of the fruit plantation options. Drip irrigation and its costs and subsidies. Sourcing of water.

3. Economics, income and expenditure, profitability, time for production to being, which months will fruition take place, any inter-cropping solutions?

4. Marketing plans for each of the fruit plantation. Is there a buy-back arrangement for any fruits? What is the pricing?

5. Quality and varieties of saplings and fruits. Advantages and disadvantages of the same. Soil testing and quality parameters.

6. Government subsidies and documentation for the same.

7. Regular training, exposure visits and responding to technical challenges.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The sericulture option


Our farmers have been traditionally growing cotton and soybeans. Those are low earning crops and generally revenue per acre has been around 20 to 40k per year/acre.

We are encouraging farmers to diversify their lands into other options. Last year, we have started working on converting some of the farmers towards Sericulture (silk worm rearing). Mulberry is planted in one acre and then these mulberry leaves are to be laid on long metal / plastic trays inside a shed. Small eggs of silk worm are placed on these leaves and they start eating the leaves. As they continue eating, they wind their saliva around themselves and create a cocoon of silk.

These cocoons are sold in market in Bangalore at good prices. The first batch is of 4 months, but after that the production increases as well as production comes out every 45 to 60 days. So, there are around 6 crops per year. Already 108 farmers have adopted sericulture and others are waiting and watching.

Here are some examples of farmers who have earned

Monday, November 12, 2018

Velankar case with Hinduja

Nation First
Shashikant Velankar, age 58 lives in the fishermen chawls of Mahim and he had kidney stones in both kidneys. Somehow or the other, he managed to gather Rs 3 lakhs from his relatives and friends and got himself treated in Hinduja Hospital for removal of stone from the right side kidney.
Now, all sources for further funds had dried up and he needed to be treated for the left side kidney too.
He contact us on 12th Oct, 2018, and our volunteers Shrinivas and Khushru did a scrutiny on 16th Oct, 2018 and found that he was a deserving case and also had the orange ration card that was mandatory for treating in the Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Scheme.
Nation First referred him to Malika Hospital (Jogeshwari) where he was admitted under MJPJAY scheme, on 18th Oct. They checked the operated right kidney and found that 80% of the stone was still present.
So, they successfully operated the same right side kidney on the 22nd Oct and he has got the discharge on 29th Oct.
Malika hospital has now given the date for left side kidney surgery on the14th Nov.
While Shashikant Velankar is happy with the Mallika hospital's treatment and indebted to Nation First and especially Srinivas for follow-up for help and guidance. He told us that he was angry with the Hinduja Hospital and wants to file a case against hospital.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Statue Saga continues (last episode) - English and Hindi

The statue saga continues (final episode):

While I understand the value of inspiring the nation by putting up a statue of Sardar as a symbol of unity.

While I understand BJP's political move to abrogate Sardar's legacy and put him on a pedestal vis-a-vis the Nehru dynasty.

While I understand all those that talk about spending on other priorities, rather than build a symbolic statue.

But my support for building a HUGE statue in the extreme poor Narmada taluka continues, for following reasons:

1. The tribal budget per year of Gujarat is around 13000 crores, mostly to be used in the eastern talukas which are extremely backward, have poor cultivable soil and few opportunities of earning livelihood.

2. Tourism is one of the fastest growing, clean source of income generation and building a world's largest statue to attract tourists, especially the lakhs of rich Patel NRIs is a fabulous idea. For me, the primary role of the statue is to attract tourists.

3. Spending 2400 crores by the Gujarat Govt and 600 crores by Central Govt over a period of 3 years is a smart investment decision for a start-up for tourism that will last for over a century.

4. I work in the areas of Marathawada (Parli), where there are droughts, suicides, misery and tremendous poverty (avg family income is 3500 p.m). Every village has schools. Parli has many colleges and hospitals. Most villages have Engineers, post-graduates and some even have doctors. But poverty is increasing. 

What is urgently needed is livelihood solutions. Like the Sardar Statue that will bring in tourism, if there were some serious long-term livelihood solutions for Parli or other poor areas - I would work for it. Getting people out of poverty has to be the main criteria.

Would I support other HUGE, expensive statues in other places? Probably not, unless they are situated in areas that need livelihood and the statues perform that function.

Happy Diwali

मूर्ति गाथा जारी है (आखरी अध्याय ):
जबकि मैं एकता के प्रतीक के रूप में सरदार की मूर्ति बनाकर देश को प्रेरणा देने के मूल्य को समझता हूँ .
जबकि मैं सरदार की विरासत को बढ़ाने के लिए भाजपा के राजनीतिक कदम को समझता हूं और नेहरू वंश से ऊँची पदवी देने की नियत को भी समझता हूँ.
जबकि मैं उन सभी को समझता हूं जो प्रतीकात्मक मूर्ति बनाने के बजाए अन्य प्राथमिकताओं पर खर्च करने के बारे में बात करते हैं.

1. गुजरात के प्रति वर्ष जनजातीय बजट पूर्वी तालुकों में लगभग 13000 करोड़ रूपए का उपयोग किया जाता है जो ट्राइबल एरिया में बेहद पिछड़े हैं, गरीब खेती योग्य मिट्टी और आजीविका अर्जित करने के कुछ अवसर हैं।

2. पर्यटन आय के उत्पादन के सबसे तेज़ी से बढ़ते, स्वच्छ स्रोतों में से एक है और पर्यटकों को आकर्षित करने की दृष्टि से सबसे बड़ी मूर्ति का निर्माण कर रहा है, खासतौर पर लाखों समृद्ध पटेल एनआरआई - यह एक शानदार विचार है। मेरे लिए, मूर्ति की प्राथमिक भूमिका पर्यटकों को आकर्षित करना है।

3. गुजरात सरकार द्वारा 2400 करोड़ रुपये खर्च करने और केंद्र सरकार द्वारा 600 करोड़ रुपये, 3 साल की अवधि में पर्यटन के लिए स्टार्ट-अप के लिए एक स्मार्ट निवेश निर्णय है जो एक शताब्दी से अधिक समय तक टिकेगा।

4. मैं मराठवाड़ा (परली) के क्षेत्रों में काम करता हूं, जहां सूखे, आत्महत्या, दुःख और जबरदस्त गरीबी है (औसत परिवार आय 3500 प्रति महीने है)। प्रत्येक गांव में स्कूल हैं। परली में कई कॉलेज और अस्पताल हैं। अधिकांश गांवों में अभियंता, स्नातकोत्तर और कुछ डॉक्टर भी होते हैं। लेकिन गरीबी बढ़ रही है। आजीविका के साधन की तत्काल आवश्यकता है। जैसे सरदार मूर्ति पर्यटन के पैसे और काम लाएगा, अगर परली या अन्य गरीब क्षेत्रों के लिए ऐसा ही कुछ गंभीर आजीविका का साधन हो - तो मैं इसके लिए काम करूंगा। लोगों को गरीबी से बाहर करना मुख्य मानदंड होना चाहिए।

क्या मैं अन्य स्थानों पर अन्य विशाल, महंगी मूर्तियों का समर्थन करूंगा? शायद नहीं, जब तक वे उन क्षेत्रों में स्थित न हों जिन्हें आजीविका की आवश्यकता होती है और मूर्तियां उस कार्य को निष्पादित करती हैं।

शुभ दीवाली

Monday, November 5, 2018

Transforming poor talukas - using fruit tree plantations (English / Marathi)

We are planning to grow 10 lakh trees in Parli (106 villages) to find permanent solution to the periodic droughts.

The plan presently is as follows:

1. Go and meet experts, make field visits and finalise the ratio of each fruit trees (out of the planned 10 lakhs) in the next two weeks.

2.As per our plans, the shortlisted trees are - kesar mango, cashew, sitafal, avocado, moringa, peru, dragon fruits, nimbu, pomegranate, papaya. (we have already checked mango, peru, papaya, pomegranate and cashew plantations )

3. Scientifically work out economics, plantation and fruition schedules and details of each of the above options.

4. Take around 100 farmers from Parli to Jain Irrigation and few other sites by the end of November for them to understand and see.

5. Start survey of farmers about which trees will they like and get their plans about taking care of the same - by Dec 15th.

6.Take orders from the farmers and place the order with various nurseries for the same - prefer trees that have a buy-back arrangement. The nurseries will also be contracted to look after the saplings till July 2019.

7. Start training sessions of farmers about how to grow and market the same, based on new knowledge and technologies.

8. In July 2019, start getting delivery of various saplings in trucks and unload at 3-4 different spots in Parli and ask the farmers to come and take delivery.
By 2020, create a marketing plan for all the produce.

Creating large-scale foliage and growing fruit trees in a complete  taluka is a way-forward for tackling the poverty, suicides and misery in poorer talukas of India. If this succeeds, then it can be replicated across the country.

Happy Diwali.

वारंवार येणाऱ्या दुष्काळ परिस्थितीला तोंड देण्या साठी कायमस्वरूपी तोडगा म्हणून परळी तालुक्याच्या १०६ गावांमध्ये १० लाख वृक्ष लागवड(फळबाग लागवड) करण्याचे आयोजन केले आहे.
नियोजन :-
1. फळबाग लागवडीसाठी कोणती फळझाडे किती प्रमाणात लावावीत त्याचे नियोजन करण्यासाठी पुढील दोन आठवड्यात विविध तज्ञ व्यक्तींना भेटणे आणि प्रत्यक्ष क्षेत्र भेटी करून माहिती मिळवणे.
2. आम्ही काही झाडे निवडली आहेत - केसर आंबा, काजू, सीताफळ, ऍव्हाकॅडो, शेवगा, जाम, ड्रॅगन फ्रुट, पपई, लिंबोणी, डाळिंब ( यापैकी आंबा, पेरू, पपई, डाळिंब आणि काजू लागवडीचा आम्ही प्राथमिक अभ्यास केलेला आहे.
3. वरील सर्व फळझाडे लावल्यास त्यामागचे अर्थशास्त्र, लागवड तंत्रज्ञान, उत्पन्न येण्याचा हंगाम इत्यादी बाबी मागील शास्त्र समजून घेणे
4. नोव्हेंबरच्या च्या शेवटच्या आठवड्यात परळी तालुक्यातून १०० हुन अधिक लोकांची अभ्यास सहल जळगाव जैन इरिगेशन आणि तत्सम ठिकाणी आयोजित करणे
5. 15 डिसेंबरपर्यंत शेतकऱ्यांना फळबाग लागवडीच्या दृष्टीने कोणती फळझाडे लावण्यात रस आहे याचे सर्वेक्षण पूर्ण करणे
6. शेतकरी ऑर्डर देतील त्या नुसार विविध नर्सरी मध्ये ऑर्डर देणे. ज्या ठिकाणहून उत्पादित माल परत घेतला जाईल अशा ठिकाणहून रोप घेण्याला प्राधान्य देणे. आणि ज्या नर्सरीत ऑर्डर दिली आहे त्यांच्याशी जुलै २०१९ पर्यंत रोप सांभाळण्याचा करार करणे.
7. शेतकऱ्यांसोबत लागवड तंत्रज्ञान, उपलब्ध बाजारपेठ, विक्री या सर्व विषयांचे आधुनिक प्रशिक्षण देणाऱ्या कार्यशाळा आयोजित करणे
8. जुलै 2019 मध्ये ट्रक मधून परळी विभागात ३ ते ४ ठिकाणी रोपे उतरवण्याचे नियोजन करणे व तिथून वितरण करण्यास सुरवात करणे. २०२० पर्यंत मार्केटिंग चे नियोजन करण्यास सुरवात करणे.
मोठ्या प्रमाणात फळबाग लागवड करून गरिबी आणि आत्महत्या दूर करण्याचा हा प्रयत्न आहे जर हा प्रयोग यशस्वी झाला तर संपूर्ण देशात हा प्रकल्प राबविण्याचा आमचा मानस आहे
समस्त शेतकरी बंधूना दिवाळीच्या शुभेच्छा
मयांक गांधी

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sardar Statue- a monumental idea

I am not from BJP and in spite of that, I think the idea of a Sardar Patel statue is a monumental idea.
1.    A monument stands for an idea and in this country ravaged by caste, religion and regional differences all pulling for their own benefit – Sardar Patel, who united 562 princely states to make a united country is an inspiration and needs to be honored.

2.   For a country with a central budget of  21.47 lakh crore rupees, spending 600 crore over 3 years and for a state like Gujarat (annual budget 1,81,945 crores), to spend 2412 crores (0.45% of its annual budget p.a) over 3 years for a monument that will last over a century and inspire millions is truly worth it.

3.   Selecting the picturesque Narmada district as the location of the statue was a well-thought strategy. Remember Narmada (as per Niti Ayog) and the surrounding are the poorest districts in Gujarat with Narmada (72.45% poor), Dahod (71.75%), Dang(70.14%), Panchmahal (50.72%) housing some of the worst affected people. The forests and the poor quality of cultivable lands make agriculture income very difficult.

4.   Already Gujarat government has allocated Rs 13,278 crores (budget 16-17) for tribal development, primarily for these areas. Some of the methods of poverty alleviation suggested for these locations is setting up tourism infrastructure, incentivizing consumption of forestry products and improving prices of crops that grow better in low-productivity areas (some coarse grains or pulses for example). Spending 850 crore per year that can transform lives of 8 million people using tourism does not seem too much.

5.   The total expenditure involves the statue, a research centre for agriculture, water management and tribal development, a museum, AV gallery and conversion of the area to meet tourism traffic. A 3 star hotel, tent stay villages, high speed roads and connectivity have been already made and will help in speeding development of the region.

6.   Like the statue of Liberty or the Brazil statue of Christ or even the Vivekananda rocks – this will bring much needed exposure to tourists and start employment and businesses, reducing poverty.

While there were very smart moves made politically to upstage the Nehru dynasty and gain political mileage by appropriating Sardar Patel as a BJP leader etc, for me– making life better for the poor by using tourism money is the biggest gain.

Its not that there are no schools and colleges and hospitals in these tribal areas (I have been there personally), but livelihood source is badly needed.

All-in-all it’s a smart decision. Killing multiple birds with one stone.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Short note on Water Cup challenge

The Global Parli project involves 15 villages located in the Parli taluka in Beed district, Marathawada, Maharashtra. Marathawada has the highest number of farmer suicides in the country.
All India average irrigated area is around 40% while in Parli it is only 1.72%. This highlights a lack of effective water management across Maharashtra and specifically in the Parli taluka. Marathawada region has been experiencing multiple droughts since 2012, which saw one of the lowest levels of rainfall in the last 40 years.
Ineffective water management and prolonged drought, underline the critical need for a paradigm change in water resource management to break the existing trend and progress towards water security.
A competition called Water Cup has been started by Aamir Khan called Paani Foundation It is a brilliantly and meticulously planned attack on farmer suicides, rural poverty and can be the true harbinger of change in rural Maharashtra
12 of our villages have participated in this competition between various villages to create watershed development in their villages In a scientific and trained way to increase water storage capacity and many important village development works in the garb of a tournament. Last year over 3000 villages participated and improved water capacity by leaps and bounds.
The work spread over a period ending in May 2018 envisages various activities like creating . But we need the broader community to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our rural brethren for soil and water conservation works using manual labour and machine works. Most other works are done by the villagers using their own resources and government scheme and machineries."