Dare to dream and rise like a phoenix!
– Satyabrata Panda, Ambodala, Odisha

In the heart of Kalahandi District in Odisha, amidst the unforgiving terrain, lies the tribal village of San Jamkiheju. Once a place plagued by distress migration and marginal farmland, this hamlet stood on the brink of uncertainty.  Yet, from the ashes of adversity, a tale of metamorphosis unfolds, a saga of resilience and triumph against insurmountable odds.


A Glimpse into the Past

San Jamkiheju, home to 282 souls spread across 61 households, grappled with the harsh realities of life. The inhabitants, primarily belonging to the Kutia Kandha Tribal Community, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) eked out a meager existence through subsistence farming (on an average land holding of 2.5 acres) and seasonal migration. Struggling with the lack of water for irrigation and transportation facilities, the community with average family size of 4-5 people could earn a meager  average annual income of Rs. 30,000. The future seemed bleak for the people.

Fig: Community members involved in subsistence farming

A Beacon of Change

In 2016, PRADAN intersected with the community. With meticulous planning, zeal to learn, and strong dedication, the Kutia Kandha tribe worked towards breathing a new life into their tired life. Through the formation of self-help groups and rigorous training sessions, the seeds of progress were sown.

Cultivating Dreams: The Journey to Prosperity

The turning point came six years down the line, in 2022. Through the START (Stimulating Tribal and Rural Transformation) project supported by RBL Bank Ltd., the villagers embraced high-value vegetable cultivation and mushroom farming. The Kutia Kandha tribe was supported with machines like chaff cutter, good quality seed selection, mushroom shed construction in convergence with ITDA (Integrated Tribal Development Agency), knowledge of collective farming with cost analysis, bed preparation training, hygiene, sanitation, and temperature management to avoid low productivity, and market linkages for better price realization.

Led by community members like Damani Majhi and Ringa Majhi, the community embarked on a journey of discovery and prosperity.

“Shuruat me darr lag raha tha. Par fir humne himmat jogi, ab isse kamm hum kya hi kama sakte the. Gaon ke baaki logon ko saath le kar aae, START project se madad mili aur humne mushroom ki kheti shuru kr di” (We were scared initially but then we thought the situation can’t get worse than it is now. We gathered courage and tried to bring the community together. START project helped through the process and we started cultivating mushrooms’ says Damani Majhi while reminiscing old days.

From the depths of vulnerability, emerged a pillar of support for others

Parab Farmers Producers Company Limited, established in 2022 under the project further provided support to grow oyster mushrooms, helping them defy the odds stacked against them.

PARAB Farmer Producers’ Company was established with a vision to alleviate distress selling and ensure fair market prices to farmers’ hands, while also empowering women farmers and fostering their sense of accountability. This initiative has led to the joining together of 1,731 women farmers, contributing to the sustainability of PARAB FPC.

From Humble Beginnings to Bountiful Harvests

The initial steps were humble with just 20 mushroom beds for five families to cultivate mushrooms but, with sheer determination and hard work, the villagers witnessed a miraculous transformation. By December 2022, their efforts bore fruit, yielding a profit of Rs. 22,000 rupees at Rs. 100/kg in just 45 days. This success fueled their ambition, propelling them to scale up operations and explore new horizons.

Fig. Mushroom bed preparation

A Blossoming Future: Scaling New Heights

With each passing year, the village of San Jamkiheju is defying expectations, surpassing all barriers in their quest for prosperity, a better life, and livelihood. In 2023, their collective efforts helped them increase the number of mushroom beds from 20 to 500 and helped them earn Rs. 1,20,000 at Rs.100/kg yielding a staggering profit of Rs. 95,000 from oyster mushroom cultivation at Rs. 9,500 per household. Buoyed by their success, and the backing of Parab Farmers Producers Company Limited they are now setting their sights to new varieties, eager to explore the potential of paddy straw and button mushrooms and new markets like Ambodala, Muniguda and Bhawanipatna etc. for enhanced returns.

Fig. Ringa Majhi involved in Mushroom cultivation

A Ripple Effect of Transformation

The impact of San Jamkiheju’s success reverberates far beyond its borders. Neighboring villages are looking at their example, inspired to chart a similar path towards self-sufficiency, improved source of livelihood, and financial security. Through unity, perseverance, and a shared vision, these communities are defying the odds, turning adversity into opportunity.


The journey of San Jamkiheju stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of humans. Through resilience, innovation, and collective action, they are working to transform their lives; carving a path towards a brighter tomorrow. As the sun sets over the rugged landscape of Kalahandi, it illuminates a future filled with promise and prosperity for all who dare to dream.