All credits go to Kapil Sharma from Say Trees
The credits must be given to Kapil Sharma, and his amazing work with farmers through his organisation Say Trees. Since 2015, Say Trees has helped 61 farmers in Anantapur plant over 28,000 fruit-bearing saplings, which is now their source for a sizeable parallel income.
Mallaiah shares, “I returned and planted mango as an intercrop, interspersed seasonally with the usual crops. Now, traders are approaching with offers in one or two lakh rupees to buy my mango harvest each year.”
It must be mentioned here that Say Trees has also helped the farmers to set up highly effective drip irrigation facilities in their farms, which conserves a lot of water. As the state government offers subsidies to farms with drip irrigation, this is also reducing investment cost for the cultivators.
Inspiration behind the farmers’ project in Anantapur
Till 2015, Say Trees’ work has been restricted in the urban domain. They were planting patches of dense green forests in the concrete jungle of Bengaluru. Talking to Efforts For Good, Say Trees founder Kapil Sharma shares his motivation behind launching the project with farmers.
“In 2015, I was invited to attend World Forestry Congress, organised by United Nations in Durban, South Africa. The convention gave me a deep insight into agroforestry, and how it is solving agrarian crises in a number of developing countries. At that time, farmer suicides was a haunting reality in India. I decided to stand beside the helpless farmers at such trying times,” he narrates.
Kapil had acquaintances in drought-hit Anantapur, where he decided to pilot his initiative. Persuading the farmers to grow fruit trees in a portion of their land was a cakewalk, as the distressed farmers were seeking an additional source of income. Eleven farmers came forward with approximately five acres of land each, who Say Trees supplied with 4,000 fruit-bearing saplings of mango, jamun, guava, pomegranate, chikoo, amla etc.
The impact was visible soon
Within a year, the trees bore fruit in plenty. “This would not have been possible without sheer dedication from the farmers, who braved the scorching heat to maintain their fruit saplings. Even in such a dry district, the saplings had an unbelievable survival rate of over 90%,” reveals Kapil.
At present, the farmers gain a minimum of Rs 60,000 to Rs 2,00,000 extra annual income from the fruit trees.
However, the impact of the fruit trees cannot simply be measured in monetary terms, feels Kapil. “The trees are helping to improve the green cover. That, in turn, is helping to raise the groundwater table and soil retention rate, which holds the key to end the droughts in the near future,” he shares.
Working with Maharashtra farmers
Previously, many farmers were heavily dependent on the surrounding natural forests for timber, fodder and other forest-based resources. To alleviate the pressure on the natural vegetation, Kapil and his team are planning to supply timber saplings to the farmers in the upcoming plantation season. They want to curb the dependence of these farmers on the forest while creating an alternative earning prospect.
In 42 villages of Maharashtra, Say Trees has contributed over 5,000 coconut saplings to 204 farmers. “We worked with farmers in villages and suburbs like Dhansar, Tembhode, Dapoli, Umroli, Ambedkar Nagar etc. All of these are located along the coastal belt, where coconut trees will flourish easily,” details Kapil.
Tamil Nadu features next on the list for Say Trees farmers’ project, where they look forward to replicating their successful initiatives of Anantapur.