From barren laterite zone to a garden of festivity

MGNREGS has enabled cultivation of many barren areas in rural India with its focus on land development and natural resource management. Apart from immediate source of income through daily wages, these works provide the village population especially women and self-help groups (SHGs) with sustainable livelihoods making them self-reliant in the long term.


93The barren lands in villages in Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram, Birbhum districts of West Bengal were a cause of great stress on the agriculture opportunities. The district administration took up the challenge to convert the barren lands into fertile lands with the help of MGNREGS within a decade. The converted lands were then planted with mangoes. At present, there are 2555 mango orchards developed in 9856 hectares of land. 771 SHGs that had been selected from the villages and given the responsibility of maintaining the orchards have benefitted. Overall, 12,814 households have benefitted from the employment and opportunity provided through these SHGs.

District No. of Mango Orchard Area(Hector) Benefitted SHGs Households
Bankura 450 640 302                     4082
Purulia 511 5987 200                    3111
Paschim Medinipur 367 488 117                     2339
Birbhum 475 178 45                         670
Jhargram 752 2563 107                       2612
Total 2555 9856 771                       12814

Mango festival- a unique initiative

94Salt Lake village near Kolkata organised a Mango festival to celebrate their successful efforts to cultivate mangoes in the tough laterite zone through MGNREGS. The four-day mango festival (9th to 12th June 2017) was arranged by Panchayats & Rural Development Department in association with Paschimanchal Unnayan Affairs Department. The Mango festival gave city dwellers a taste of the treasure of these erstwhile barren lands which they could purchase from the SHGs at a lower price than the market. The women from SHGs also got a share of profit by this unique initiative. The festival offered varieties of mangoes to the visitors- amrapali, mallika, laxmanbhog, golapkhas, chousa and local alphansos etc.

The festival was inaugurated by Shri. Subrata Mukhopadhyay, the Hon’ble MIC of Panchayats and Rural Development in the presence of the Hon’ble MIC of Paschimanchal Unnayan, Shri. Shantiram Mahato, local councillors and departmental heads. The celebrations started with traditional dance – the Chhau and Jhumur to set the right tune for the festival. One stall at the festival exhibited 100 varieties of mangoes which grow in India.

95Second day onwards, gerbera flowers cultivated in Nakashipara block of Nadia district under the MGNREGS were also displayed and sold at the festival. They have a huge demand in the market and were especially popular with women at the festival. The first lot of mangoes from the districts were finished within the first two days and a second lot was brought from the orchards. The huge success of this initiative by the Panchayats & Rural Development Department was appreciated by everyone, especially the SHG women.


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