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19th July 2023

BALCO adds to joy of Hareli by training farmers on improving crop yields

Balconagar; 19th July 2023: Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO), India’s iconic aluminium producer and a subsidiary of Vedanta Aluminium has brought additional joy to farmers during the festival of Hareli, by offering them free, comprehensive training on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which promises improved crop yields with reduced inputs. Under its Project Mor Jal Mor Maati, the company has empowered over 600 farmers with sustainable, efficient rice cultivation practices, ensuring increased yields and improved livelihoods for farming communities.

The Hareli festival in Chhattisgarh, widely known as the ‘Rice Bowl of India,’ celebrates the start of the agricultural cycle, especially focused on rice cultivation. It holds immense importance for small and marginal farmers, who engage in ‘Ropai’ – planting young rice seedlings in their fields, heralding the arrival of the monsoon.

As a water-guzzling crop, rice cultivation requires the transplanting of its seedlings. Rice growers in the region often rely on manual transplanting of seedlings to control weeds in wet conditions. Conventional methods with randomized seed dispersion lead to competition with weeds, hampering yields by forcing the saplings to compete for resources, and also cause pest and disease issues, causing huge losses to the farmers.

To protect farmers from these preventable losses, BALCO has, in partnership with the Action for Food Production (AFPRO), trained farmers on the System for Rice Intensification, which serves as a sustainable and science-based approach to rice production, focused on maximizing yields. Under SRI, the farmers were taught to transplant young single seedlings in a carefully spaced grid pattern, ensuring optimal growth conditions and quality cultivation.

They were also made aware of the importance of straight rows that led to effective weed management, offering space for hand and rotary weeding. More than 600 participant farmers have adopted this system that reduced farming duration with usage of younger seedlings, and water usage with maintaining most soil, not constant flooding. The adoption of SRI into farming practices by these farmers will lead to enhanced productivity in over 600 acres of agricultural land.

Appreciating the efforts made under Mor Jal Mor Maati, Mr. Rajesh Kumar, CEO, and Director, of BALCO, said, “At BALCO, we are focused on empowering farmers and thereby fostering community growth. Through the introduction of modern agricultural practices like the System of Rice Identification (SRI) technique, we provide farmers with essential knowledge, resources, and sustainable methods. Our ongoing support of the farming community through technical assistance, and educational initiatives, is a testament of our commitment to the betterment of the farmers. We also aim to make a tangible impact on the lives of local communities, through interventions encompassing education, healthcare, and infrastructure development, in addition to agriculture and sustainable livelihoods.”

BALCO’s Mor Jal, Mor Maati project reaches out to over 2,400 farmers, covering more than 1,400 acres of land in 32 villages. More than 70% of farmers have adopted modern agriculture techniques under this project such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI), trellis, organic farming, climate resilient cropping, vegetable & wheat cultivation, etc. Around 15% of the farmers are engaged in livelihood diversification activities like animal husbandry, horticulture & non-timber forest produce. The project intervention has led to an increase in their average annual income along with an increase in production by almost 50% and a reduction in input costs by 40%.

Bharat Aluminium Company Limited (BALCO) is India’s iconic aluminium producer. It is owned 51% by Vedanta Limited and 49% by the Government of India and. BALCO is part of Vedanta’s Aluminium Business, a division of Vedanta Limited, which is India’s largest manufacturer of aluminium. BALCO operates a 0.57 million tonne per annum aluminium smelter in Korba, Chhattisgarh. It is also a leader in value-added aluminium products that find critical applications in core industries. With its world-class smelter and power plants, the company fulfills its mission of spurring emerging applications of aluminium as the ‘Metal of the Future’ for a greener tomorrow.

About Vedanta Limited

Vedanta Limited, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources Limited, is one of the world’s leading Oil & Gas and Metals company with significant operations in Oil & Gas, Zinc, Lead, Silver, Copper, Iron Ore, Steel, and Aluminium & Power across India, South Africa, Namibia, and Australia. For two decades, Vedanta has been contributing significantly to nation building. Governance and sustainable development are at the core of Vedanta's strategy, with a strong focus on health, safety, and environment. Giving back is in the DNA of Vedanta, which is focused on enhancing the lives of local communities. Under the aegis of Vedanta Cares, the flagship social impact program, Nand Ghars have been set up as model anganwadis focused on eradicating child malnutrition, providing education, healthcare, and empowering women with skill development. Vedanta and its group companies have been featured in Dow Jones Sustainability Index 2020, and were conferred Frost & Sullivan Sustainability Awards 2020, CII Environmental Best Practices Award 2020, CSR Health Impact Award 2020, CII National Award 2020 for Excellence in Water Management, CII Digital Transformation Award 2020, ICSI National Award 2020 for excellence in Corporate Governance, People First HR Excellence Award 2020, ‘Company with Great Managers 2020’ by People Business and certified as a Great Place to Work 2021. Vedanta’s flagship Nand Ghar Project was identified as best CSR project by the Government of Rajasthan. Vedanta Limited is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange in India and has ADRs listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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