Tribal Sub Plan - An initiative by ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore

Tribal Sub-Plan is a comprehensive strategic approach adopted by the Government of India for the welfare and development of Scheduled Tribes in the country. The Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) strategy evolved for the rapid socio-economic development of tribal people in the 5th Five Year Plan has the objectives of socio-economic development and protection of STs against exploitation through legal and administrative support for narrowing the gap between their levels of development to that of the general communities. Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) is provided by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to the States/U.Ts since Fifth Five Year Plan for supporting the tribal population below the poverty line.

As a research institute of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, our routine outreach activities normally focus on sugarcane and sugarcane based cropping system. As a maiden attempt, we had implemented Tribal Sub-Plan in our institute attempting to ensure direct benefits to families belonging to Scheduled Tribes.

The Tribal Sub-Plan is being implemented by this Institute in two tribal villages viz., Vellamari village, Agali panchayat, Mannarkad taluk, Palakkad District, Kerala and Attukkal village, Thondamuthur, Coimbatore District, Tamil Nadu with emphasis on mechanization and horticultural interventions respectively.

Encouraged by the response of the villagers in Attukkal, we have aimed to create a ‘Sustainable Horticultural Village’. With 61 families settled in 54 houses in an area of around two acres in the foothills, this village was found best suited for interventions in terms of horticultural crops. The responsive attitude of the tribal people “Irulas” in this village was our motivating factor. With limited scope for cultivable area or water facility, we had restricted our support in terms of supply of seedlings of Coconut (42 nos), Nerium (102 nos.), Sapota (31 nos.), mosambi (5 nos.), curry leaf (50 nos.), acid lime (31 nos.), custard apple (4 nos.), jasmine (5 nos.), guava (3 nos.), betel nut (37 nos.), gooseberry (20 nos.) and pomegranate (5 nos). We also took the privilege of helping them plant the saplings in a scientific way by proper potting mixture and well protected with bamboo cages with little support for watering. We envisage nutritional security in this adopted village in the years to come due to this technological intervention. Double potted fuel efficient chulahs were also provided to interested families as a drudgery reduction measure for women. At the end of the day, we, at Sugarcane Breeding Institute have the satisfaction of transforming a barren land in to a self sustained groove.

In Vellamari village, Agali panchayat there are 196 households owing 110 acres of cultivable land wherein crops like coconut, arecanut, banana, vegetables, wild jasmine, pulses etc are widely cultivated. During the focus group discussions held in this village, it was understood that the usage of machinery for agricultural operations was minimum. Realizing this, we took the initiative of converting this village into a ‘Sustainable mechanized village’ wherein we supplied a four-wheel-drive mini-tractor with the needed accessories like trailer, cultivator, rotavator, and other minor implements like brush cutter, sprayers, spade etc.

This project is being implemented through participatory approach mode with the active participation of the tribal villagers.

The programmes in these beneficiary tribal villages viz., Attukkal and Vellamari were formally inaugurated by Dr. Bakshi Ram, Director, ICAR-Sugarcane Breeding Institute, Coimbatore on 20th March and 7th April 2015 respectively. The programme was coordinated by Dr. T. Rajula Shanthy with following team members – Drs. N. Rajendra Prasad, C. Jayabose , T. Arumuganathan, A. Bhaskaran and R. Karuppaiyyan. All the three Heads of Divisions of the institute - Dr M.N. Premachandran, Dr R Viswanathan and Dr C Palaniswamy were also present.

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