When a number of families migrated from Lower Subansiri to settle in Kimin in Papu Pare district, they only had their houses and no land to cultivate. Their only source of livelihood was limited to doing small business with the little money available with them. However, in due course, these families came in touch with the North East Initiative Development Agency (NEIDA), an associate organisation of Tata Trusts, and formed a Self Help Group (SHG), Apatani SHG, in Kimin.
Registered under the Societies Registration Act in 2012, NEIDA has been implementing the “Integrated promotion of Livelihood in Arunachal Pradesh Phase – I” project since July 2015, at the Kimin and Yachuli blocks to address some of the issues that impact the people such as the hilly terrain, fragmented land, lack of technical knowledge of farmers, transportation bottleneck, non-availability of inputs and weak extension machinery among other issues.
NEIDA seeks to promote micro finance, empowerment, livelihood and the need for market-based economic development in the North East regions of India. It has primarily focused on finding innovative ways to improve the livelihoods of rural farmers through enhancing productivity of existing livelihoods-based activities. The three focus areas include: (1) Livestock – piggery promotion, (2) Stabilizing land use systems through horticulture and agriculture development and (3) Forest-based livelihood.
To improve their livelihoods, the Apatani SGH group of 17 women members, leased land for rearing pigs. Pig rearing is a promising business in the North East owing to the high demand of pork among the tribal population. Tata Trusts, through its association with NEIDA, plans to promote household-level piggery enterprises to improve rural livelihoods and alleviate poverty. Pig rearing is undoubtedly of major importance for rural livelihoods and poverty alleviation in the region.
Apatani members were trained by NEIDA to set up pigsties and in the care and management of pigs. NEIDA also supported the group for construction of low cost pigsties and purchase of 10 piglets (4 males and 6 females) for rearing, from a pig breeding farm at Karsingsa in Papum Pare.
Fifteen training programs on pigsty construction and pig rearing were organized at Kimin to improve knowledge and skills of 200 farmers. A total of 178 pigsties were constructed by the farmers during the reporting period.
The members of the Apatani group grow tapioca, colocasia and other vegetables as pig feed to bring down the cost of feed and manage the daily activities of the unit on rotational basis. Till now, the group had sold three pigs and has earned an amount of Rs. 25,000/-. One sow gave birth to 10 piglets in the first week of August 2016 and is expected to earn an amount of Rs. 30,000/- after 2-3 months.
The SHGs under NEIDA, numbering 45, have been formed with the objectives of empowering women, inculcating the habit of saving and to bring in sustainable interventions. These groups promote the practice of inter-lending of funds that has been underway since their inception. This focus on micro-finance comes as a big relief for the members in times of emergencies. There is also an emphasis on proper record keeping and development of leadership quality within the groups. The members of the groups routinely attend training programs that focus on the concept and role of SHGs; book and record keeping; leadership development etc. organised by NEIDA.
Besides these, there have been interventions in elementary education covering around 500 households across 26 villages under the same project.
Experiencing the positive outcomes of education, empowerment and micro-finance practices, the group has decided to expand the piggery units by constructing additional 12 pigsties. Members of the group are more confident and want to set a trend in the area by improving the quality of life around them. (The writer is an Assistant Development Manager, NEIDA/Tata Trusts)