SEARCH with the support of Hindustan Coca-Cola beverages worked with Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS) under the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. RARS is involved in Agricultural research and has a 100-acre campus to carry out experimentations which can develop varieties of crops that may be pest resistant and high yield with a shorter crop cycle to help farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Odisha improve their incomes in the long run. However, one problem that RARS faced is lack of sustainable water resource. A 4-acre pond in their campus had been rendered useless since last 10 years because of issues like silt which has rendered its holding capacity to nil.
SEARCH and HCCB took up the project to refurbish the pond in RARS in such a way that it not only ensures regular supply of water to the station but also recharges groundwater to benefit nearby villages as well.
The work began in Sep 2012 with the support of local government organizations like AP State Ground Water Dept. In the initial phase, the entire area of the pond was dug-up and the silt was removed to create an area that can store water. Then injection wells were used to ensure that water flows down and recharges the groundwater and leads to improvement in the groundwater quality. Today, the pond is full with water and has ensured that there will be a yearlong supply of water both for agricultural and drinking purpose, thus enabling the RARS to carry on agricultural research for the betterment of farmers and the society.
With the support of NABARD, a water campaign was conducted in 3 mandals of Guntur district in 2017. The campaign focused on mapping the locally available water resources as well as dissemination of information on water conservation in Bapatla, Karlapalem and Pittalavanipalem mandals. Efforts were also made to increase the awareness of the community while aiming at bringing about convergence between various Government entities like NREGS, Agriculture department, Gram Panchayat, and Rural Development department all focused on conservation and optimum use of available water resources.
To increase awareness as well as curb pollution, SEARCH conducted a Coastal clean-up activity at 3 beaches viz; Machhalipatnam, Chirala, and Bapatla in 2012. The event was well received by the local communities and saw participation from community members, especially youth and NCC cadets. The clean-up activity was successful in not only cleaning up the beaches and thereby reducing pollution but also created awareness among locals about the protection of our environment, particularly our oceans. Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages extended funding support for the activity.
In 2009, with funding support from the National Council of Organic Farming, SEARCH implemented a programme to sensitize local farmers about organic farming and its benefits for the environment, yield and therefore their incomes. This programme worked with a group of 120 farmers in the Bapatla and Kakamanu mandals of Guntur district.
Farmers were trained to be model farmers and their farms were converted to model organic farms under the programme. These model farms showcased the techniques used as well as the good results of using organic techniques. Workshops were also conducted for many farmers across the two mandals demonstrating the various ways of organic farming including the creation, use, and benefits of bio-fertilizers. These model farms and workshops inspired many farmers to take up organic farming as a full-time activity.
With funding support from ITC, a small women’s economic empowerment initiative was conducted in 2014 in Chirala town of Prakasam district. 50 women were identified and trained in making incense sticks. They were then organized in a livelihood generating center that started production of incense sticks.
This project helped these 50 women acquire a livelihood generating skill and also initiated them into work which started generating income.
Between 2011 and 2013, SEARCH operated the RSTC for children who had dropped out of school for various reasons. The center was run in Guntur with funding support from Rajiv Vidya Mission (SSA). In the 3 years that the center was operational, a total of 150 children were mainstreamed. These children came from BPL families where education was not a priority owing to difficult circumstances. A lot of children had single parents and for some parents had migrated in search of employment leaving them with their grandparents. Therefore, a residential center made the most sense.
SEARCH identified these children and organized them in the center and started providing basic necessities along with grade-specific bridge education to facilitate their mainstreaming. Books, clothes and other facilities were provided as part of the intervention. At the end of mainstreaming the children were enrolled in regular school and moved to a government-run hostel.
Apart from this SEARCH also extends financial support for School fees and other expenses like books and uniform to about 60 students on an annual basis. We also conduct school level competitions on days of national importance and give away useful books as prizes to encourage learning among children.