Hindustan Zinc Limited (HZL) is one of the most prominent leaders in the sustainable mining industry. The firm has joined hands with Maharana Pratap University of Agriculture and Technology (MPUAT) and Bhartiya Agro Industries Foundation(BAIF) to broaden the spectrum of its SAMADHAN programme and uplift the livelihoods of more than 30,000 farmers across Rajasthan. MPUAT is the largest agricultural sector university in the state. Senior officers and dignitaries from all three organisations graced the ceremony for signing the Memorandum of Understanding.
Farmers are indefinitely considered to be the backbone of the economy. Agriculture forms a whopping 18 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs more than 60 per cent of the workforce. Almost all the states are heavily dependent on agriculture for their revenue. The dependence on the sector is so deep-rooted that Punjab is considered the wheat bowl of India, while Andhra Pradesh is called the rice bowl of India. In Rajasthan, more than 76 per cent of the land is sowable, while the net cultivation area covers 66.7 per cent of the total area of the state.
SAMADHAN- A Flagship Programme
SAMADHAN is the flagship program of Vedanta Ltd that previously reached out to more than 13,000 farmers for sustainable livelihood through agricultural interventions and to more than 11,000 farmers through livestock intervention. Under the scheme, they formed 'Farmers Interest Groups' in villages based on their circumstances to collectively overcome challenges. Hindustan Zinc had been working on this scheme to enhance the income generation of the agriculture-dependent lives of five districts, namely Ajmer, Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Udaipur and Rajsamand. HZL was incorporated from the erstwhile metal corporation of India on January 10, 1966, as a public sector undertaking. However, Vedanta Ltd acquired a 64 per cent stake in Hindustan Zinc, thus making HZL a direct subsidy of the former. The Government of India currently owns a 29.5 per cent stake in HZL.
The CEO and full-time director of Hindustan Zinc said, "In the current competitive world, it is important for our local farmers to stay updated on the best scientific practices." He added that the partnership with MPUAT would benefit more than 30,000 farmers under the already existing SAMADHAN initiative. It would be helpful to the farmers because they will benefit from the technical knowledge about the advancements in agriculture. The initiative will also help the officials look ahead and promote smart agriculture in Rajasthan by reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the program. SAMADHAN initiative has been operational for four years. With the assistance of BAIF, 13,835 farmers have been benefitted from area-specific agricultural practices, and more than 14,000 farmers have improved in cattle breeding because of animal advisory services.
Need To Recognise Crop Choices
The lack of measuring the right policies for those working the lands of our country perpetually forces our farmers to limit themselves to marginal farming. There is a desperate need to recognise the right crop choices and input costs, and different supply chains before formulating policies for farmers. The traditional and basic way of farming needs to be done away with. Instead, our farmers must adopt sustainable and productive methods of agriculture. For this, our policies need a revolution in themselves.
India CSR quoted the Vice-Chancellor of MPUAT, emphasising on the importance of empowerment required in the farming sector. He said it is crucial to strengthen our farmers as they form the backbone of the nation's economy. He mentioned that SAMADHAN has always been keen on introducing alternatives to develop sustainable farming models for the agricultural community. The Managing Director of BAIF Bharat Kakade said that the collaboration with MPUAT as an academic partner would create a space to bring in synergy, which would enable an impactful transformation. The scheme focuses on community-based institutions like 'Farmer Producer Organisations' to strengthen the community and bring sustainability through the program to bring sustainability to the program. The agricultural university would provide hands-on technical guidance and training to bring out progressive farmers from the community. Apart from strengthening the technical muscle of the farmers, SAMADHAN has developed more than 263 acres of land with fruit-bearing trees, thereby improving the ecological balance and economic security of the people. In its Integrated Livestock Development Centre, the initiative has already created over 5000 female progenies that yield one-and-a-half times more milk production and cater to more than one lakh small and marginal ruminants in its animal camps.
However, there are many successful initiatives in the form of schemes and policies tailored to make the lives of our farmers better. Like the government's electronic trading portal, "E-NAM" is designed for networking the existing APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) to produce a unified national market for agricultural commodities across the country. The vision of this portal is to streamline procedures across various integrated markets to get rid of information asymmetry existing between buyers and sellers. The price discovery under this portal is entirely based on real-time supply and demand. There are many other existing schemes under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture like the Rainfed Area Development (RAD), Soil Health Management (SHM), Sub Mission on Agro-Forestry (SMAF), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Soil and Land Use Survey of India (SLUSI) etc. The main idea behind implementing the schemes, as mentioned earlier, is to ensure functional agricultural productivity, particularly in extensive rainfed areas focusing on integrated farming. Other aspects of interests under these schemes formulate efficient usage of water, management of soil health and collaborating resource conservation.
Such schemes are essential for the upliftment of the community that feeds a population of 121 crore Indians. The ongoing protests at several sites against the recent farm laws have already shaken farmers' trust in the incumbent government. A more farmer inclusive policymaking and a readiness to listen to the farmers' demands is the need of the hour. The government should not wash off its hands clean of its responsibility towards the farmers. Thousands of farmers are protesting on the Delhi borders for months, demanding the scrapping of farm laws, and hundreds amongst them have lost their lives, of which there is no account. After all, even after more than 70 years of Independence, we continue to be an agricultural economy.