The Government of India, the Government of Chhattisgarh and the World Bank today signed a $100 million project to develop sustainable production systems that allow tribal households in remote areas of Chhattisgarh to practice round-the-year production of diversified and nutritious food.
While Chhattisgarh has made progress over the past two decades in reducing poverty as well as acute undernutrition, both continue to pose significant challenges. CHIRAAG – Chhattisgarh Inclusive Rural and Accelerated Agriculture Growth Project will be implemented in the southern tribal-majority region of the state where a large population is undernourished and poor. The project will benefit over 180,000 households from about 1,000 villages in eight districts of Chhattisgarh.
In India, agriculture is a major livelihood provider and the Government of India is committed to achieving the goal of doubling farmer income by 2022,” said C S Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance. “The CHIRAAG project in Chhattisgarh will lay the foundation for a diverse and nutritive food and agriculture system, mobilize smallholders into farmer producer organizations and increase incomes by improving their access to profitable markets.”
The agreement was signed by C S Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India; Bhoskar Vilas Sandipaan, Joint Secretary Department of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Farmer Welfare and Project Director-CHIRAAG on behalf of the Government of Chhattisgarh; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.
Rice is one of the major crops in Chhattisgarh and constitutes 66 percent of the cropped area. However, the ‘rice bowl’ is restricted to the central plains where over half of the state’s irrigated area is concentrated. Chhattisgarh’s rich biodiversity and diverse agro-climatic zones provide an opportunity to focus on an alternative model of development allowing the tribal-dominated southern region to leverage its natural resources, diversify and grow resilient crops; and assure a production system that takes care of the nutritional needs of every household.
“This project is part of the state government’s on-going efforts to build an inclusive development pathway for tribal communities, with special emphasis on the empowerment of tribal women,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “By focusing on diversifying cropping systems, enhancing nutrition, and encouraging investments in irrigation and post-harvest technology, the operation will support tribal communities – including those in remote areas – through agricultural growth and increases in farmer incomes.”
To make agriculture nutrition supportive, the project will implement a series of activities that are climate resilient and profitable. Investments will be made in water-harvesting structures and irrigation facilities; integrated farming systems blending crops, fishery and livestock production; climate-smart production technologies and practices; developing value chains to ensure that surplus commodities reach profitable markets; and in making nutritious food available to tribal households.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated response has disrupted access to economic opportunities, especially in rural and tribal areas. The project will help stabilize and restore the local food supply and production, secure livelihoods and expand income and job opportunities for people returning to their villages in pandemic-affected project areas.
“The project will promote innovative partnerships for connecting Chhattisgarh’s tribal producers and entrepreneurs with profitable markets in India and abroad, drawing on experiences from similar projects in South Asia, Latin America and East Asia,” said Raj Ganguly, Senior Agribusiness Specialist and the Task Team Leader for CHIRAAG.
“The project will help mobilize tribal communities, especially women, in participatory planning and local economic development, and build their capacity to benefit from project interventions on diversified agriculture, natural resources and nutrition,” said Varun Singh, Senior Social Development Specialist, World Bank, and co Task Team Leader for CHIRAAG.
The $100 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 17.5 years, including a grace period of 5.5-years.