A special vocational programme to promote pig rearing has come as a boon for the landless agricultural workers belonging to the Irula community living on the interior and isolated hamlets in Pachamalai.
Migration of people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and Irula community has been a major challenge leading to various socio-economic problems. The programme being implemented under the Integrated Tribal Development Programme of the National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development seeks to check this trend.
These agricultural workers, till a couple of years ago, relied on the farm work available in Kerala. But due to the implementation of the Integrated Tribal Development Programme a couple of years ago, migration has come down.
Thuravathy, one of the women beneficiaries near Top Sengattupatti, says she was given three female and one male pigs so that she could eke out a livelihood without any economic setback.
“It is only after I got these pigs that I could admit my son R. Rajkumar into a nearby school,” she says, indicating that due to exodus, she could not admit her son into any school in Kerala.
Possessing pigs is a matter of pride for the people belonging to these communities in the Pachamalai hills. “People present pigs as their family gift during domestic festivals or community gathering,” says S. Suresh Kumar, Assistant General Manager, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.
The hills is spread over two revenue districts of Tiruchi and Salem and the programme is being implemented simultaneously in both the districts.
As many as 41 beneficiaries — 25 in the Tiruchi district and 16 in the Salem district — have been identified under the scheme for rearing pigs. Free feed is also supplied for ensuring proper rearing of pigs, says Mr. Kumar.