Mallepelle village in the drought-prone Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh was once a dry and desolate place. However, thanks to the efforts of S Venkateswara Reddy, a retired banker, this village has now turned green and capable to harvest over two crops a year.
In 2018, Reddy retired as a banker in Hyderabad from the State Bank of India. He told The Hindu Business Line that he decided to continue his family’s legacy and take up farming in his village. But he came across the biggest obstacle—lack of access to a continous water supply which turned his attention to water scarcity in the area.
He also learned that the water crisis was a huge problem in the village and farmers could grow only one crop a year.
He began exploring ways to solve the water crisis and learned that the Handri-Neeva canal was just 2.5 km from his field. After carrying out a survey, he discovered that 30 farmers held 160 acres along the way to get access to the canal.
He had to convince these farmers, who belonged to different political parties, to give him the right of way to lay pipes and it was not an easy job. But they finally agreed on the condition that they would also get access to the water.
Soon after, Reddy used his resources and was able to arrange for bank loans and reportedly raised ₹ 30 lakh to buy PVC pipes and lay trenches, standing as a guarantor for all the loans.
The mission was successful with land getting access to piped water thereby ending the water woes in the region. It turned into a lifesaver for the crops that are at risk of being destroyed due to uncertain rain.
At present, farmers grow one crop between January and December, while others do so in the remaining months, depending on their choice of crops.
“They are all happy. We mainly grow cotton. Some of us grow red gram, groundnut, jowar, maize, and vegetables,” he said.
“We have already started repaying the loan, with yearly EMI liability of Rs 8.70 lakh. We have paid it for three years already,” he added.
Presently, about 800 acres in the village are under piped irrigation. Seeing the difference that he made, Reddy was unanimously elected sarpanch of the village in the recent local body elections.