Twelve government departments and 15 entrepreneurs work with 5,000 farmers, artisans and women’s support groups on the ‘Nabarangpur model’
In 2019, a consortium of 12 National Research and Development laboratories participated in an extraordinary effort to change lifestyles in Odisha’s Nabarangpur, one of the poorest regions in India. Two years later, the intervention seems to be creating a major one.
With 56% tribal and 15% Dalit population, Nabarangpur has the lowest income ₹ 14,700 per annum in Odisha (2004-05 figures), with 50% of the working population unemployed. At the bottom of almost all the public indicators, the Center is identified as the desired region.
The collaboration includes the five Scientific and Industrial Council laboratories – Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT) in Bhubaneswar, National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) in Lucknow, Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) in Lucknow, Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) in Mysuru, and the Indian Institute of Petroleum in Dehradun; and an equal number of institutions of the Indian Agricultural Research Council – Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (CIFA) in Bhubaneswar, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research in Bengaluru, Central Tuber Crops Research Institute in Thiruvanathapuram, Central Avian Research Institute in Bhubaneswar, and Indian Institute of Water Management in Bhubaneswar. Indian Council of Medical Research’s Regional Medical Research Center in Bhubaneswar, and Department of Health Sciences Biotechnology in Bhubaneswar.
Nabarangpur, where it was relatively small until a few years ago, now has 5,000 farmers, artisans and self-help groups (SHG) of women involved in the livelihoods of 12 government departments and 15 businessmen.
Three-day-long training of scientists of the CFTRI propelled Abiding Bagh, 30, from being a housewife to a chocolate maker in the district headquarter town of Nabarangpur. Her handmade chocolates help her earn her ₹30,000 a month. “As I have got a fair idea about the market, I intend to switch to automation this year itself,” said Ms. Bagh. The CFTRI has formally transferred nine processes and technologies in favor of Nabarangpur’s new entrepreneurs.
Nabarangpur’s almost non-existent fish market, which was heavily dependent on imports from Andhra Pradesh, is likely to see the local fish flooding it in a year or two. “For procuring good quality spawn and seeds, we used to travel hundreds of kilometers to Pakhanjore in Chhattisgarh, or Kolkata. After the CIFA conducted a number of refresher courses and live demonstrations on scientific fish farming, I have expanded my operations,” said Sujit Das, who runs a hatchery at Umarkote. Mr. Das, who has invested ₹10 lakh in the hatchery, said he might achieve break even this year itself, if things move as planned.
“We have been able to set up the entire fish value chain in Nabarangpur by establishing aquaculture clusters through hatcheries. Apart from providing government subsidies, our intention is to germinate entrepreneurial zeal among youths. We have succeeded to a far extent,” said Nagesh Kumar Barik, scientist at CIFA.
CIMAP, meanwhile, promotes the cultivation of lemon grass, Japanese mint and vetiver, and in recognition of the promise of better restoration, farmers here are replacing eucalyptus aromatic plants. A standard business assisting center for packaging and branding will soon be established in Nabarangpur at a cost of ₹ 30 lakh. Products such as aromatherapy diffusers and room Sanitisers, and mint chocolates, are scheduled to be launched later this month.
The richer curcuminoid-rich varieties of curcuminoid called ‘CIM-Pitamber’, and the NBRI ‘Keshari’ turmeric varieties have also been introduced in Nabarangpur. SHGs women have been asked to donate grain after the annual harvest to potential farmers, which will reduce their market confidence. This new idea is well received.
Encouraged by the intervention of national labs, Krushna Chandra Nayak, a young entrepreneur, has raised investment to reach ₹ 7-8 crore to produce bio-fertilizers used to grow spices and perfumes.
“We had never expected such a response from farmers and entrepreneurs to our interventions. Government and other agencies must pitch in to create a sustainable market for the products so that the interventions, which was meant for demonstration purposes, could spread among the masses,” said S.K. Mishra, project coordinator and former scientist with the IMMT.
Almost all partner departments in the region are involved in a livelihood project developed by research institutes. Reversible regions such as Koraput and Nupada are also arousing interest in imitating the “Nabarangpur model”. Research and choice, collaboration trying to show, not compatible.
Twelve government departments