Bellary is an arid zone, a region with inadequate rainfall. As a result, the vegetation is sparse, and agriculture is extremely difficult to practice. G. Venkatesh has been practicing farming for about 20 years in Balakundi village of Bellary. “Bellary is a drought-prone area, and we are highly dependent on rainfall for agriculture; the erratic rains in the past couple of years have just added to the agony”, grieves Venkatesh. He owns about nine acres of land, which he inherited from his father. Most farmers in Bellary grow a single crop due to water shortage. Venkatesh grew either sunflower or safflower or jawar on his farmland. “I took loans to purchase seeds and to educate my children, the inconsistent rainfalls have been upsetting as I could barely get any return on investment. I felt like giving up on farming”, says Venkatesh.
He attended the meeting conducted by the Deshpande Foundation at the village level. The representatives explained the benefits of constructing a Farm Pond and about seeking financial assistance for it. “My mother and wife were skeptical; they thought this was an additional expense. After explaining that four other farmers would join me and Deshpande Foundation would guide us in getting the financial assistance, my family finally agreed”, recalls Venkatesh. With the proper financial guidance, he was sanctioned a loan of ₹60,000, using which he constructed a Farm Pond of size 100x100x12 cubic feet, in March 2021. He paid back the loan within a year and now grows multiple crops, including cotton, chilly, maize, foxtail millet, and more.
“Earlier, I made about ₹5,000 to ₹10,000, and post Farm Pond construction, I earn about ₹50,000 to ₹1 lakh per acre. I am now confident that I will get enough returns from my field. Moreover, my crops don’t suffer due to insufficient rains anymore”, Venkatesh shares, heaving a sigh of relief. Today, he has purchased a tractor and rears animals, including 2 cows, 30 sheep, and 40 hens. “My family is very pleased with the improvement in our livelihood.
He now sees hope that his children will have a bright future. He also aspires to build a house for his family. Venkatesh says, “Deshpande Foundation has made me realize that small farmers who make educated efforts towards improving farming methods can also earn well. I urge other farmers to construct Farm Ponds.