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Custom Hiring Centre: A case study of field innovation in Channi cluster of Udaipur District

A story of women shattering taboos about women drivers by operating tractors

Indian agricultural scenario has changed over the years in terms of increase in production, land rights, adoption of good agriculture practices and use of mechanisation. However, despite a high demand for use of agriculture implements, the existing discriminations have led to utilisation of these implements only by the privileged. In Udaipur, 80% of the population in engaged in farming activities and 95% is categorised in Scheduled Tribe. Out of the population engaged in agriculture, 94% farmers have 2.5 bigha (1 hectare) or less land. The agriculture practices in the area are highly labour inducive and most farmers lack awareness about package of practices to improve the scope for farmers to help them achieve better farm gate prices for their commodity. In the process, women farmers are considered not very productive as agricultural labourers and hence the discrimination faced by them in terms of decision making and financial transactions is much more.

The majority of small/marginal land owners are dependent on labourers for land ploughing, seed sowing and weed eradication. Therefore, a need for farm mechanisation can be identified which can be fulfilled through collective community ownership for farm equipments or Custom Hiring Centres. These centres can be a financially sustainable platform for community institutions to encourage women participation in administration, processing and execution, for required outcomes from agriculture to reach the small/marginal farmers.

The Custom Hiring Centres will be owned by the Cluster Level Federation with the Village Organisation being the implementing agency. Ideally, the CHC shall have to be located in a place where by and large small land holdings are located within a radius of 5 to 7 kms that is setting up the CHC at Gram Panchayat level. This will reduce the transport cost and time of transport of agricultural machinery. In other terms, one CHC is expected to cater to 4/5 villages (in a GP) with and expectation to serve the need of 400-450 SHG households.

A total of 5 centres have been promoted in the first phase of CHC set-up in 5 clusters. In Channi (Shri Ram Rajeevika Mahila Bahudesshiya Sahakari Samiti Ltd.), the CHC promoted is located in Adiwali village which is 15 kms away from the CLF office. The process was incited in the month of January, 2017 after discussion with CLF –Executive Committee and members of CLF over need for tractors and supporting equipments which were received in April end. This was carried forward with a demand proposal sent to RAJEEVIKA for the need of CHC by CLF. The total budget cost comes to Rs. 15,00,000 where RAJEEVIKA will provide fund support of 12,00,000.00 (maximum support from project) & the CLF has to contribute minimum Rs.3,00,000 (20%) to set up CHCs in villages or GPs. An amount of Rs 12,00,000 was received which was followed by forming a purchase committee which included 3 CLF Office Bearers (President, Secretary and Treasurer), CLF manager and CPM/YP Livelihood. The staff for CHC was selected post interview which was done CLF OBs. The place/ GP/ Village was selected on the basis of number of SHG members, number of tractors already existing, levelled land for agriculture, diesel station availability and irrigation facilities. Adiwali village was selected so that all the mentioned points were covered and Mrs Shilpa Devi Bhagwati was appointed as the manager from the same village. A visit was organised in Udaipur to finalise the quotation for equipments where the tractors and implements were inspected by the purchase committee. The quotation by Mahindra TRRINGO was finalised which provided a tractor and five more agricultural equipments on priority basis such as rotavator, cultivator, seed drill, MB plough and trolley with the total amount of Rs 10,34,000.

An office, for keeping the equipments and for CHC manager was identified on the main road so that it becomes accessible to everybody. It has an office space with electric fitting, running water, toilet and a garage where tractor and its agricultural equipment can be kept securely with a shutter facility available. The tractors will be driven by female drivers but since it is difficult to find drivers with a valid licence, a male driver has been appointed for the initial 2 months so that female drivers can be trained simultaneously and can process their documents for a driving license.

Training on work structure and profile of CHC manager and the driver has been done in Udaipur which gave an insight to the participants on call centre based orders and how will they get executed, planning for optimal utilisation of resources, book- keeping and use of TRRINGO’s online app. Training was organised in Rishabdev block after receiving the implements and tractor in the field, attended by CLF OBs, CHC manager and male driver, on use of various equipments to increase efficiency of tractor which would help in land preparation in pre-harvest duration such as rotavator.

One CHC is accessible to 4-5 villages so it can cover 400-450 SHG members for its demand creation of agri-implements. A total of 100 hours have been completed within one month of operations in Adiwali stationed Custom Hiring Centre. Mostly, the orders received are for trolley to use the mud around the lake side in the field to improve soil fertility. The manager goes to Village Organisation meetings and attends CLF meetings to spread awareness about the centre. The manager maintains four records in one register -for work details, for diesel details, for kilometre details and for miscellaneous expenses of the CHC. A separate account has been opened in the name of CHC under Channi CLF which will be operated by CLF OBs and the payments to the manager and driver and rent will be paid from the same account. The signing authority is intact with the CLF whereas deposit of money will be done by CHC manager.

Not only were machinery made accessible to women farmers, the constant awareness sessions and capacity building led to them shattering taboos about women drivers and stereotypical ideas that women cannot run tractors!

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