“I have a share on this land. Tell me which portion is mine. I will do SRI farming on it” says Joytsna Maity to her husband with a glaring eye! So far she tried her best to persuade her husband to go for SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method of farming i.e. the single seedling transplantation at a time at 10 inches regular intervals which claims to have more yield as compare to the traditional practice. Her husband refused all her plea! Finally she challenged her husband and practiced SRI on her portion of the land and got better yield than her husband. Joytsna Maity is a resource farmer of DSNSS at Dhanchabari village in the Chandipur block of Purba Medinipur, WB. It’s on the way of Howrah to Digha highway.
We, AID Kolkata volunteers Souvik, Deepanwita and Partha along with the DRCSC staff- Soma and Koushik, visited there on 4th of April, 2015 with the objective to understand how small techniques of Sustainable Agriculture are being adopted and practiced by the smallholder and sharecroppers. We feel extremely honoured to see their courage of conviction, to meet farmers like Joytsna Maity. We came back with many such experiences.
Landless farmers, smallholder those who do not have acres of land, are being mobilised and motivated through the SHGs run by DSNSS. DSNSS is basically a small micro finance institution but they are involved in several other social activities apart from “savings & loans”! One of such activity is to motivate women farmers to develop a homestead “Nutrition Garden” on a small patch of land which otherwise remains unutilised through the year.
Let’s see, How do they do it ?
The farmers those who have no land at all apart from the house they are living, are simply growing seasonal vegetables on sacks, containers and other unused material available.
Every SGH member in the village we met, had a medium size earthen container, placed under a thatch and covered with moist jute bags. Green leaves, straw, kitchen refuse all are being decomposed there to produce vermin – compost. Hundreds of living worm can be noticed in the pit. There is no requirement for any external inputs of fertilizers. The home-made vermin-compost is enough to feed their vegetable garden. Those who have a bigger patch of land they also have more pit to feed.
Almost all the farmers are saving seeds individually and they also have a community based “Seed Bank” at the DSNSS centre from which they can borrow vegetable seeds in a condition that, they will return it in the next season with 5 grams extra.
Women are preparing some bio-pest repellent by using Neem, Karanja and other leaves that have a pungent smell and taste to shoo away the harmful pest. Besides, they are using Amrit pani, cow urine and water in 1:6 ratio as pest repellent and fungicide.
Vegetables are grown on circular pattern bed, raise bed with compost for better utilization of water and available space. Legume, leafy vegetables, tuber crops, vegetables, herbs are there in all the nutrition gardens. Some gardeners grow fodder, betel leaf also. Most of their produce is for household consumptions but there are few farmers who sells okra and betel leaf in the market.
Rearing of small birds like chicks and ducklings, its vaccination, its feeding and all are being regularly practiced by the gardeners as an allied activity of agriculture.
Farmers those who have the farm land, don’t grows paddy only! They always harvest an intermediate pulses or other legume. It not only gives them an extra yield but also helps to maintain the nitrogen flow in the soil.
Women have learnt to prepare their own vegetable nursery at home. Saplings of Papaya, green chilli, eggplant and other seasonal crops are grown on the portable baskets and containers. “It is very easy to look after this nursery, to take care of it” says a member of Matangani Mohila dal.
Few women of this SHG have installed Smokeless oven in their kitchen. This fuel-efficient oven relies on a simple technology which allows less oxygen into the oven to make it more fuel-efficient and there is a smokestack attached to the oven. Now, they need not to inhale the smoke and gather more fuel wood for Monsoon!