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From a barren land to fertile patch

Naina J A Mangalore: Jan 24, 2014 23:59 IST
Ajai Naik with his family, beneficiaries of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employement Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), at their garden in Golthamajalu gram panchayat of Bantwal taluk.  dh photo
Ajai Naik and Lokamma, belonging to Schedule Tribe and Malekudiya community, were earning their livelihood by working as daily wage labourers and had never dreamt of owning an arecanut or banana garden or growing vegetables in their land. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employement Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) changed the course of their life.

Ajai Naik and Lokamma hail from Amtoor village in Golthamajalu gram panchayat of Bantwal taluk.

The duo were the first few beneficiaries of MGNREGS in the district. Naik was owning 42.5 cents land, which he had inherited from his father. However, as it was covered with a hillock, the land was of no use till the gram panchayat and MGNREGS Ombudsman supported him to take up the work on levelling the land. The work on levelling the land was taken up in 2008-09.

A sum of Rs 22,386 was spent on levelling the land. Later, 100 arecanut, 50 banana saplings and 10 coconut saplings were planted on the land on the following year.
“Arecanut trees will start yielding from next year,” said Naik’s wife Shantha with a smile on her face.

“The land which once remained unfit for agriculture, now houses a bountiful arecanut orchard, banana plants, and coconut trees. The infertile land did not turn into a fertile patch overnight. Hardwork and dedication helped us to succeed,” said Naik.

The 42.5 cents land was situated on a slope of a hillock and the fertile top soil in the land washed off regularly in rain and I could not do anything without money. Then came help in the form of MGNREGS.

The gram panchayat officials suggested levelling of land and planting of arecanut and banana plants.

Shantha said, “I will grow jasmine, once we complete the work on levelling our land fully. I had grown Ivy Gourd last year. This year, I had grown yard long beans for our use.”
“Though we have a well, it does not provide enough water to our requirement. Hence, we have to either improve the existing well or dig a new well.”

On the other hand, Lokamma, owns 30 cents land. The land was barren without much use. After levelling the land, she has grown arecanut trees, and banana plants.”
A sum of Rs 21,156 was spent on levelling her 30 cents land, Rs 4,200 was spent on planting arecanut and Rs 2,752 for planting Ivy Gourd plants.

MGNREGS Ombudsman Sheena Shetty said “Ajai Naik and Lokamma are models for other tribes in the district. Their success story can be extended to all those tribes who own a patch of land in the district.”

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