Bhaiyalal belongs to the Sahariya tribe which is most commonly found in the drought prone region of Bundelkhand in Central India. These tribals have traditionally depended on forests and livestock for their sustenance.
But the dwindling forest resources have jeopardised livestock productivity due to shrinking of water resources and poor fodder supply. This has resulted in the Sahariyasmigrating to far away cities in search of work as daily wage earners, leaving their land assets idle.
In the last few years, these Sahariyas have been the beneficiaries of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development's (NABARD's) 'wadi model' of agroforestry. As of June 2012, NABARD has sanctioned more than 400wadiprojects under its Tribal Development Fundtargeting three lakh tribal familiesacross India.
'Wadi' means a small orchard covering one or two acres of land.In the wadi model, along with crops, fruit trees suitable to the area are grown. The fruits can be harvested within 3 to 4 years of planting. This model emphasises on soil and water conservation measures and organic farming techniques. These wadis have helped rejuvenate large tracts of unproductive land across India.
"Earlier, we used to go to the forest to fetch wood or go to the cities to work as labourers. We barely earned enough to clothe and feed our children. Now on these wadis, we grow vegetable and grain crops and also tend to lemon, guava and gooseberry trees. We sell the fruits in the weekly market and earn around Rs.1000-1500", says Bhaiyalal proudly.
The wadi model hasbeen recognised nationally and internationally for strengthening agrarian livelihoods and increasing food and nutritional security of poor tribal families.
--ANI (Posted on 10-09-2013)