Thenkarai Food Security Program: Irrigation Well Projects
Economic Development and Cultural Changes in the Villages of South India
We are winding up a five and half year
involvement in the lives of a group of small farmers and their families in the
Thenkarai area which is situated south of the Vaigai River in India. The
Program is called Thenkarai, for the headquarter village of the smallest local
government unit comprising 7 hamlets with a total population of about
10,000. Of these about 300 could be
described as “small farmers” who hold under 5 acres of land and manage to raise
one crop of rice with irrigation from the rain fed Vaigai River, via a tank
storage system. If there is drought even
this irrigation possibility for one crop gets affected. The program began when the area had been
drought stricken continuously for three years.
Through the five years we have sunk 8
wells, supplementing the river irrigation, helping one dry crop of millet,
maize, ground nuts, pulses, onions and vegetables and some times also flowers
for commercial gain…One well has also helped to raise a mango orchard which has
started yielding fruit.
All the wells have 48 beneficiaries, and all
these wells are collectively owned. One
of the wells in addition to helping 6 farmers of Melamattian village also
supply the water for the Vermi Compost Unit.
This unit produces 3 tons of rich and safe manure and is now supporting
a husband wife full time.