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Community-led initiatives for pasture regeneration – Village Kadesan shows the way

by ruchita last modified Jan 21, 2014 03:24 PM

Jun 28, 2010

Kadesan village is located in the Bhinder block of Udaipur district in Rajasthan. A majority of households in the village depend on agriculture and livestock rearing for their livelihood. On account of small land-holdings and recurrent drought, agricultural production alone cannot meet the livelihood needs of the community. Livestock rearing, a traditional occupation in the region is therefore a key source of income in the village.

Nangaram Dangi, aged 45, a resident of Kadesan, lives in a joint family comprising of his wife, two sons, and their families.

Prior to the pastureland development intervention, Nangaram had to purchase fodder, worth Rs 2,600 per year, from nearby villages to feed the family’s livestock consisting of three buffaloes, two bullocks and seven goats. The total milk production during this time was about five litres per day and due to inadequate marketing facilities, income from milk sale was almost nil.

Through Nangaram’s active participation in village development work, he got in touch with Sahyog Sansthan, an NGO working in Udaipur. He led the work on restoring the water supply in the village under the Jaldhara scheme of the government in association with Sahyog Sansthan. Under the scheme, drinking water was provided to the village through pipe lines, sourcing water from an open well dug 500 meters away from the village. A row of taps were installed at a common point, for supplying water for human consumption together with building a cattle trough for livestock.

In 2004, Nangaram with other villagers initiated the work on protection and development of village pastureland, also known as gauchar/charagah. Nangaram was one among the group of seven peer leaders, who led the planning and development work on the village pastureland. Nangaram’s wife also played an important role by constantly persuading and motivating women to participate in village level meetings. Following these community meetings, the villagers decided to develop the 63 hectares of village gauchar by building a stone fence, constructing a check dam and sowing fodder seeds like rajka (lucerne) on the land. This work was undertaken in 2005 with the community contributing 25% of the total costs while the remaining 75% cost was met from the UNDP and Ministry of Environment and Forests Small Grants Programme, titled “Comprehensive Model of Bio Diversity Management in Aravali Range”, with Sahyog Sansthan as the implementing agency. The per hectare cost of pastureland development was approximately Rs 3,838.

The community played a leading role in planning, implementing and mobilizing local contribution. The protection and development of the 63 hectare pasture plot was a unanimous decision of the whole village. This included convincing panchayat members, removal of illegal encroachments on the land and mobilizing local funds. Since community participation was sought right from the beginning of the intervention, problems faced during implementation and even now are collectively resolved by the village. Prior to implementing the development work on the village gauchar, Sahyog Sansthan entered into an agreement with the village committee constituted of and by the villagers and the Sarpanch (head of the panchayat), elaborating community responsibility in developing and managing the village gauchar. The agreement also advocates transparency in handling funds during development activities, and maintenance of the plot as a collective responsibility of the village after the withdrawal of Sahyog Sansthan support in 2006. Since 2005 the villagers have appointed one person as a watchman, who is provided a monthly income in cash, contributed by each of the 125 families. The land is in common ownership of the village and all the families receive an equal share of grass every year irrespective of the number of livestock reared. The distribution system is managed by the villagers themselves.

Nangaram shares that the common pastureland development work has benefited the entire village and also his own family. No fodder has been purchased from outside since 2006, as there is enough from the pasture land in addition to crop residues. Nangaram says “Ghas Ki Sthiti Pehle Se Achhi Hai” (fodder availability is better than earlier). Despite being drought hit during the past two consecutive years in 2008 and 2009, grass production has been adequate in the village. The family gets 500 bundles of grass (weighing 3 kg each) worth approximately Rs 2,500 from the common pastureland every year.

Nangaram has purchased two buffaloes with a loan and subsidy under the Swarn Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY) of the government. The family now owns two improved buffaloes, one calf, two bullocks and a goat and gets 10 litres of milk everyday from the two buffaloes of which 7 litres is sold to the Saras (Rajasthan Cooperative Dairy Federation) milk collection centre at the rate of Rs. 20 per litre, earning a total income of Rs.140 per day. The remaining 3 litres of milk is consumed within the home in the form of buttermilk and ghee. This provides a good source of nutrition all year round. The increased milk production in the village due to improved fodder availability from the common pastureland, led to the establishment of the milk collection centre in 2005 by Saras Dairy. The milk collection centre was established on land purchased by the community through financial contributions by each household. A total amount of Rs.20,000 was contributed by the community to purchase the land, and the building was constructed by Saras Dairy.


Families of all communities in the village including Dangis (55 families), and tribals (70 families) have further united to initiate other village development work like renovation of community wells, construction of water harvesting structures etc. They have also mobilized financial support from the Panchayat and relevant line departments (Agriculture, Drinking Water Supply, Soil Conservation, Forest etc.). The assets developed during the process, like drinking water facilities, water harvesting structures and the common pastureland are being maintained by local village volunteers like Nangaram, who have displayed good leadership skills.

All decisions regarding village development work are made by the entire village, ever since they have stood united for the development of the common pastureland. Village development is now not the responsibility of a few families but of the entire village.

Contributed by - Heera lal Sharma, Sahyog Sansthan, Udaipur, Rajasthan

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