Using local materials in Dhanametapalli
Dhanametapalli is located a few kilometers beyond Chintamani as one drives from Bangalore. The arid low rain conditions prevailing in and around Dhanametapalli is typical of Kolar district. Surprisingly even in such a place, tomatoes are the most grown crop in these parts. Extensive use of ground water has resulted in water levels dropping well below 300 feet rendering dry borewells dug less than five years ago.
Following a lead from a patron, Prasanna and team approached the MLA from Chintamani to try and implement LEISA-NREGA in some of the villages there. While landless women working agricultural labour jobs came forward in different places, in Dhanametapalli, a farmer also stepped up to offer his land for the project.
Bhagya, a young woman from the local community has been with the project over the past year and leads the group in the field and within the community too. Pramila, another local woman has stepped forward and is coordinating the self help group co-formed alongside the project while also helping spread the ideas of LEISA-NREGA to more such groups of women. Shashi Raj a dynamic young activist from near Mysore is camped in the village to spread the idea of LEISA amongst farmers and wean them away from the monoculture of water intensive crops.
While touring the farm, I noticed that the thatched shelter put together to provide shade for the vermi-culture pits were standing on green pillars. Taking a closer look I realized that they were actually the flower stalk of the Agave that grows abundantly in the area. The male Agave plant sends out a thick and firm stalk almost almost 6 inches in diameter at the base and gradually tapering over its 15 to 20 feet length with flowers at its apex. A classic example of low external input in practice !