I have worked previously with M. S. Swaminathan Foundation as SBI Youth for India fellow which generated my interest in working with tribals. The fundamental idea of PMRDF is very interesting – to work with poor living in LWE areas especially the tribals and at the same time working with district and state administration who really can act upon the issues we bring for their consideration. This is the difference between working with an NGO and as a PMRDF.
PMRDF program started with our orientation program. The orientation programme gave me exposure to various topics related to social development, policies & schemes, administration etc. After this, I was allotted Visakhapatnam district where tribals are located at ITDA, Paderu. State Government asked us to find a village for immersion and I selected Dallapalli village for that. Food my host gave me was jack fruit curry & Jack fruit sambar with rice. That was nice. By eating food with them in their house I could understand their issues and also the solutions they have. I have seen villages where hospitals/medication are not available. People died of Malaria as the villagers had to carry the sick 8 Kilometres to reach the PHC which is not a simple one through the rough terrain.
After village immersion AP government allotted me 3 mandals in Paderu to work with especially the poorest of the poor. I led a survey by imparting training on survey methodology to ground level staff, made personal visits etc. Then I started studies related to various schemes like NREGA, Rajiv Yuva Kiranalu, IAP, ICDS, NDCC (Nutrition Day Care Centers) etc. as a group activity with other PMRDFs in the district and presented findings to Principal secretary, CEO of SERP and the District Collector.
I did an economic survey to find out people’s dependence on various income sources. I found that coffee plantation is a major source of income for a large number of farmers. I organised farmer meetings where farmers brought to my notice that marketing is the major problem they face. I conveyed the same to the Collector. He asked me to chalk out a marketing strategy. I met Girijan Co-operative corporation as it has wide presence across panchayats in purchase and sale of NTFP products. They agreed to purchase the product across 5 mandals which has given farmers a decent price for their coffee.
I am presently working with local youth to promote entrepreneurship activities.
I am so far very satisfied with the work I have done so far. I am moving forward to create livelihood activities to improve local economy, ensure good price for the hard work of farmers in plantation and create self-employment for tribal youth.
K. Bala Krishna Reddy is placed on Visakhapatnam. He has a Masters in Biotechnology. Bala Krishna worked for four years before joining PMRDF, first as a molecular biologist and then with M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation.