'25 years ago, Lochan Dharua set aside his dream of becoming a government employee and headed off to his farmland to provide for his family. Beset by agricultural challenges, he persevered, and has since emerged as a successful farmer and role model for his community. Here is the story of his remarkable transformation.'
Lochan Dharua, Haldipali village, Balangir district, Odisha
- Fifty-one-year-old Lochan Dharua is a farmer, a father of four, and the sole provider to a family of eight. Hailing from the Gond tribal community, Lochan lives in Haldipali village, Balangir district, Odisha, with his wife, children and aged parents. 25 years ago, he wrenched himself away from his dream of pursuing a government job, sacrificing his personal ambitions for his family’s collective future. He embraced the uncertainties and risks involved in agriculture, in hope that the future generation would live their lives with dignity and security. As Lochan confronted life on the farm with its successive challenges, he found a guide in the Reliance Foundation, which walked with him every step of the way, and helped him translate his vision into a reality.Determined to provide a better life to his children, especially his two daughters, Lochan started cultivating the 4.68 acre plot of land he owned. He grew paddy, vegetables green and black gram on a small scale. He faced stiff challenges out in the fields – soil infertility, pests and recurring drought. To make matters worse, the traditional cropping techniques practised by him, ate into his profits and kept his family in a state of constant need.
- Things started to look up when a team from Reliance Foundation (RF) formed a Village Association (VA) at Haldipali in 2012. Understanding his dire needs, the VA supported Lochan with soil improvement and irrigation methods which included deep ploughing, fertilisers, farmyard manure (FYM), agricultural tools, and seeds with enhanced productivity.
- In addition to renovating the farm pond, the VA helped Lochan set up a dug well and a ring well for assured irrigation. The cost of these tools and enhancements, which touched Rs 1.4 lakh, was borne by the VA. Implemented over a period of two years – from 2013 to 2015 – these measures helped Lochan enhance productivity and boost profits, thereby securing his family’s future.
- His steely determination and hard work, backed up by the support from Reliance Foundation, worked wonders. The average yield from his farm doubled – from 40 quintals to 82 quintals of paddy. Initially, he had used traditional methods to cultivate paddy. The RF team introduced him to the Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) method. His annual income shot up from Rs 65,000 to Rs 1 lakh!
- A highly-motivated farmer, Lochan has now become an icon in his community. He has been nominated as the president of the Gond Tribal community and the village’s cultural committee. He has helped 36 farmers adopt the SRI method and increase productivity across 53 acres of land. His crowning achievement has been sending his two daughters to college. They now teach 42 village children.
- “I did not get an opportunity to fulfil my dreams, but I ensured that my daughters get good education to fulfil their dreams. Reliance Foundation has helped me to overcome my financial constraints and continue support my daughters to complete their college education. With their support, the yield from my farm land has doubled and I earn enough to fulfil the requirements of my family. Today, I feel proud when I see my daughters teaching other children in the village.”