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UAIL’s Project Wadi transforms farmers’ lives in Rayagada

Rayagada, May 29, 2024 (TBB Bureau): Aditya Birla Group’s Utkal Alumina International Ltd (UAIL), in collaboration with NABARD, has been making significant strides in transforming the lives of rural tribal households in Rayagada through Project Wadi. Launched in 2019, this initiative aims to double farmers’ income by improving the quality of life sustainably within three to six years. The project focuses on Agro-Horti Plantation and other income-generating activities, which are now in full swing. Jointly funded by Utkal Alumina Jana Seva Trust (UAJST), NABARD, and UAIL, Project Wadi is a testament to the power of collaborative efforts.

The impact of Project Wadi is exemplified by the story of Ugri Majhi, whose once-barren land has been transformed into a thriving fruit orchard. Before the intervention, Majhi struggled with minimal returns from sporadic cultivation attempts. Project Wadi provided comprehensive support, including land demarcation, installation of a solar-based irrigation system, crop cultivation, and financial literacy training. This support enabled Majhi to cultivate high-value crops year-round, significantly increasing his monthly income from Rs. 1,000-2,000 to over Rs. 10,000.

Reflecting on his journey, Majhi acknowledged the role played by Utkal Alumina in enhancing farm productivity.

Commenting on the initiative, Mazhar Beig, Unit Head & President of Utkal Alumina & Aditya Refinery, said, “Investing in sustainable development initiatives like Project Wadi is not just about transforming landscapes; it’s about transforming lives. Mr. Majhi’s journey demonstrates the power of collaborative efforts and their positive impact on individuals and communities.”

Over the past four years, Project Wadi has achieved numerous milestones, benefiting many farmers. The project has formed and strengthened 17 Udyan Vikash Samiti (UVS), which monitor and supervise orchards and facilitate the collective marketing of agricultural produce. Training has been provided to 500 tribal farmers on waste land development, orchard development, livestock development, institution building, and women empowerment. As a result, over 424 acres of wasteland have been converted into fruit orchards (grafted mango and cashew) with an impressive 85% survival rate in 17 villages.

The project has also promoted goat rearing among 76 landless families, resulting in the production scale reaching 620 goats. Additionally, 130 acres of non-irrigated land have been converted to irrigated land through solar river lift and diversion-based irrigation systems. More than 25,948 fruit trees and 19,801 forest trees have been transplanted, generating carbon credits to offset CO₂ emissions and addressing the nutritional security of farmer families through vegetable cultivation.

“Mr. Majhi’s remarkable journey is inspirational, showcasing the profound impact that collaborative efforts between communities and corporations can have on grassroots development. His success story exemplifies the transformative potential of synergy, where shared visions of empowerment and sustainability create tangible, lasting change,” added Bhagaban Majhi, Sarpanch, Naktiguda Gram Panchayat.

In Odisha, the Aditya Birla Group impacts over 500,000 people across 128 villages, positively influencing more than 200,000 lives. Led by Mrs. Rajashree Birla, the Group conducts its CSR activities through the Aditya Birla Centre for Community Initiatives and Rural Development. The Group’s vision aims to foster social and economic development in the communities they serve, particularly benefiting the underprivileged. Aligned with UNSDG goals, their CSR initiatives strive to eradicate poverty, alleviate hunger, and enhance the country’s human development index.

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