Eastern Singhbhumi/Palamu (Jharkhand): Far from the glitter of city life 3 lakh rural women have come together in groups to learn the skill of organic farming. They no longer need to go to the market for seeds and pesticides as they have learnt how to make cheap and effective vermi compost and pesticides at home. They depend on the sale of vegetables for their income and are reaping the benefits of higher yields.
In these remote and hilly areas of Jharkhand the subsistence farming has been the practice for generations. The women farmers of this region have always been hard working but the lack of technical know how and modern practices in farming have always kept their yields low.
To try and equip these women with modern technological know how and increase their productivity and thus their income, the Jharkhand State Livelihood Society is teaching these women how to increase their yield through cost effective means under their Village.
I addition to farming these women have also begun gardening and are thus creating additional earnings for themselves. "Before we were made aware of this technology we were satisfied if our fields yielded enough to feed our families in a year. Now we can eat and still sell our produce. Last year I planted 5 acres with rice using the Shri Vidhi technique and got a harvest of 72 quintals. I planted 250 gm or Arhar(lentil) and harvested 3 quintals. I invested 30 thousand rupees in the fields and earned a profit of 9 lakh 78 thousand rupees." AkliTudo, tells us as she stands in her rice field. She goes on to tell us, "I have 6 acres of land.
I planted rice in 5 and Arhar and vegetables including tomatoes, chilies and eggplant in the remaining acre. I didn't know we would get such a good harvest. If we hadn't joined the group, we would never have got this harvest nor would we have earned so much money."
AkliTudo belongs the GadiyadeehToli of Sandoogi, a village in the Naxal affected Gudabanda Block some 60 kms away from the Eastern Singhbhumi District headquarters in Jharkhand. She is the President of the KiyaJharnaMahila Samiti. Like her more than 3 lakh women in the state have increased their earning three-fold form growing rice with the Shri Vidhi technique. One special feature of the women of these Sakhi Groups is that they are no longer dependent on a single crop. They grow seasonal vegetables on small pieces of land from which they earn daily.
Ever since these women have started farming together in these groups they have grown in self-confidence. They learn from one another. The earnings from the sales of their main crop and seasonal vegetables many women can now send their children to school.
Like Akli, thousand of women in the state have learned the benefits of organic farming and are reaping the benefits. They all have small plots in addition to their main crops on which they grow seasonal vegetables, maintain vermi composting pits, cow dung manure pits etc. they do not employ labour on their farms but do the work themselves and share the government subsidies amongst the groups.
Looking at her papaya trees, Hasrat Banu in Khanwa village tells us, "We got these trees in the group from JSLPS and 100 women planted them. We planted about 300 trees and tomatoes and chillies under them. We don't leave any spot empty in the field, we always find a use for it." She went on to tell us that, "in addition to the fruit we also sell the vegetables.
We make the manure and the fertilizers at home. We manage to sell 150 to 200 rupees worth of produce daily which takes care of our daily expenses." The women in the groups share the seeds amongst themselves so they don't need to buy any from the market. The women make their own pesticides and fertilizers. They use Neemastra for small insects and Brahmastra for larger ones. They use various tonics such as Thethar, Fish and Drav Jeev Amrit. For urea and nitrogen requirements they use Ajola.