A significant number of beneficiaries of the scheme are women and from backward community. Balod, Dhamtari, Durg, Raipur and Rajnadgaon districts have taken the lead in implementation
The new Godhan Nyay scheme by the Chhattisgarh government — advertised as revolutionary — was launched July 2020 in the backdrop of the state’s flagship ‘Naruva-Garuva-Ghuruva-Badi’ programme.
Naruva means a seasonal or perennial stream, garuva means animal husbandry, ghuruva means composting and badi means backyard kitchen garden.
The programme focused on a sustainable and integrated farming system approach focused on water management, composting for soil health, animal husbandry and sustainable agriculture on backyard kitchen gardens. Building gothans — a kind of day care centre for animals — is being promoted under the programme.
Focus on rural livelihood generation and organic farming
Under the new scheme, the state government proposes to purchase cattle dung at Rs 2 per kilogramme and plan to make different products from it through Gothan Samitis and self-help groups (SHG).
Regular payments are to be made to the seller of cattle dung after every 15 days. Vermicompost — along with other products like agarbattis and dhupbatti (different kinds of incense sticks) — will be made from the cattle dung to provide livelihood to rural community.
“This is a part of the larger perspective of going back to villages, reviving the rural economy and generating sustainable rural livelihood, as 80 per cent of the state’s population lived in villages,” said M Geeta, agriculture production commissioner and secretary of Chhattisgarh government.
“We have plenty of unproductive cattle in the state that cause road accidents and destroy crops,” she added.
The state government launched the scheme to increase the income of farmers and cattle ranchers, promote organic compost, reduce chemical fertiliser usage and improve soil health. This would generate employment opportunities for the rural community within their villages, according to her.
Vermicompost can then be sold through local co-operative societies at Rs 8 per kg within the same locality. Officials felt this could generate enough income for Gothan Samitis and SHGs to become self-sustainable in a few months.
There are concerns of farmers not being able to purchase vermin compost. To address this concern, the state government planned to conduct lab quality testing of the vermicompost to win the trust of the farmers.
A senior district official implementing the scheme in Raipur district said a provision was going to be made for farmers to mandatorily purchase the vermicompost from sahkari samitis while purchasing seeds and other agriculture inputs. This would push organic manure usage.
“The scheme has already started working,” said Geeta. People were excited about the scheme as around 82,711 quintals of cattle dung was sold by 46,964 animal keepers, with Rs 1.6 crore being transferred to their accounts as of August 1, according to her.
A significant number of beneficiaries of the scheme are women and from backward community. Districts like Balod, Dhamtari, Durg, Raipur and Rajnadgaon took the lead in purchasing the most cattle dung.
Sanket Sharma — who runs a farmer producer organisation in Bilaspur — also felt proper implementation of the scheme can provide an organic alternative to chemical fertilisers and help the promotion of organic farming in the state.
Multiple existing schemes support the effort
“Gothan is essentially a highland near the village river or lake where the village’s animals are collected by the cowherd in the morning as part of the animals’ daily sojourn of pasturing,” said Pradeep Sharma, advisor to the Chhattisgarh chief minister for the scheme.
“A model gothan includes at least five acres of land, cattle protection trench, storage space for fodder and water, shed or tree cover, water facility with solar powered pumps or tube wells and proper drainage,” he said.
Animal fodder can also be grown in gothans, that were earmarked in more than 4,000 of the 20,000 villages in the state as of August 1.
The total active gothans that sell dung is currently at 4,023. Only 2,785, however, were fully built. The plan is to cover the entire state, including rural and urban areas. The gothans are managed by Gram Gothan committees and SHGs with the help of charwahas (cowherds).
Existing schemes can be utilised to support this initiative, according to Sharma. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment scheme, for example, will be utilised for building cattle protection trenches, wire fencing, land preparation, NADEP tanks, vermicompost infrastructure, road and water troughs.
The veterinary department is supposed to help through animal health camps and gene improvement efforts through cow breeds like Rathi, Gir and others. The agriculture department will support plantation and fodder work in gothans, while the National Rural Livelihood Mission can provide capacity building support for SHGs.
The plan is to prepare around 12 types of products, including vermicompost, NADEP compost, vermiwash, bio-gas and bio-pesticides.
A rolling amount of Rs 500 crore is planned as well. This amount can be retrieved later on as the plan is to make gothan models self-sustainable, according to Sharma. “Of this, around Rs 100 crore will be the seed money for the programme, which will also be retrievable,” he added.
Gothans are a kind of day care centre for animals. Photo: M Geeta
There are two broad concerns. First, whether farmers will be able to get enough money from selling cattle dung that can take care of animal expenses. Second, whether farmers will like to purchase vermicompost at Rs 8 per kg, compared to subsidised chemical fertilisers like urea.
A senior scientist at a state agriculture university in Chhattisgarh said the scheme’s intention was good. Farmers, however, are increasingly shying away from keeping more cattle at home because of increased expenses in livestock maintenance. Purchasing cattle dung at Rs 2 per kg may not cover their costs.
The scientist felt the state government should provide direct monetary support to animal keepers to cover the part of their animal keeping expenditure instead of purchasing cattle dung from farmers. This was because they could take better care of the animals than Gothan Samitis.
Meenketan, a farmer from Raigarh district and Arun Chandrakar, another farmer from Raipur district were hopeful about the scheme, but concerned about its effective implementation on ground.
Purchasing cattle dung by the government was a first-of-its kind initiative. Stakeholders from other states, thus, also looked at the scheme curiously. Ajay Vir Jakhar, chairman of the Punjab state farmers’ and farm workers commission, felt the scheme was a good step. Other states could adopt it, but after modifying it according to their unique situations, Jakhar said.
If this scheme is to be implemented in a state like Haryana which also faces problems with stray cattle, then operational feasibility must be assessed, said Rajinder Chaudhary of Haryana’s Kudarati Kheti Abhiyan.
He, however, said a better alternative was to promote organic farming in a full-fledged manner by creating a favorable ecosystem for organic farmers and giving them more support including for finances. This would automatically solve the stray animal problem as well, because farmers would begin utilising them for organic farming.
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