1000 Farmers: From Liquor Addicts To Champions Of Organic Farming
“Once I was a labourer at other’s field, now I am an employer for 10 workers at my own field and my family is now getting 100% organic food and children are getting the education they always admired.”
-Dwarika Ji, Kailash Nagar Village, Bahraich of Uttar Pradesh farming
“Once I was a man who used to beat his wife and children after getting drunk and I did several such things that made sinful chapters in the history but I am now a proud farmer who has grown the crops that got awarded with a State level award “Kisan Utpadakta Samman Puraskar” for extraordinary production which has set a benchmark in the area in the matter of quantity of crops produced in a small amount of land”.
-Geeta Prasad from Nai Basti Village.
Thanks to the ‘Swavlamban’ Initiative
‘Swavlamban’, is a program by the NGO DEHAT. While working exclusively with the vulnerable and deprived community, DEHAT has found that for more than 80% families, agriculture is the only way to transform their lives. Yet somehow these families cannot make it due to lack of technical knowledge, financial aid, and the support of government stakeholders. Many did not know such communities exist. Believing that good farming techniques and government stakeholder’s support can completely change the lives of thousands of children, DEHAT came up with this innovative solution called ‘Swavlamban’.
Facts and Figures of Crisis:
‘Swavlamban’ is active in a block consisting of 11 villages. These comprise of 4 Tribal villages, 4 Forest Villages, and 3 revenue villages of Mihinpurwa block in Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh. The total population of these villages is 8754. There are 991 families of 7 forest villages of Traditional Forest Dwelling communities in the area deprived of all kind of citizen rights.
What the ‘Swavlamban’ Initiative addresses
- Lost institutional sources of livelihoods: Sources of livelihoods and all became closed due to the forest and wildlife protection acts.
- Availability of wages : They are unable to work throughout the year. About 25% of the target group is of Turmeric and Chili cultivators. But due to lack of a marketing facility, they are forced to sell the product at just 30-40% of the market rates.
- Agriculture and agriculture-based wage : The women of Dalit and other backward communities generally work as agricultural labour. This daily wage work is not available regularly. At peak harvest season, they have at most 15-18 work days. This goes down further when it is not crop season. Since they have a little land holding, they are unable to produce rice and wheat through the entire year. The men also work in the fields. During the off-season, they find temporary jobs in the towns nearby. They are deprived of opportunities for starting alternate means of livelihood at the local level.
- The nearest “Artificial Insemination Center” for cattle is located at a distance of 70 km in Nanpara.
- Lack of marketing links for milk and vegetables
- No access to credit facilities, irrigation facilities, Govt. Agriculture and Horticulture Schemes
How does ‘Swavlamban’ work?
DEHAT has identified and adopted 1000 farmers who were having less than average land holdings or were using other’s farm.
‘Swavlamban’ aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers like Geeta and Dwarika and their families through progressive farming that decreases input costs, increases production, connects them with financial networks, and takes full advantage of government assistance.
Swavlamban targets the problem of poverty in a context where as many as 80% of families survive by means of subsistence farming. Advanced farming practices with the help of progressive government schemes offer farmers the promise of better standards of living. But, in remote and underprivileged communities agriculture workers are still not reaching their full potential. Swavlamban seeks to educate farmers about these practices and government programs in order to propel them towards a future of dignity and a better living for them and their families.
Consistent and adequate income empowers individuals and creates a better home environment where children are more likely to experience all of their rights.
- Change in traditional practices and farmer’s behaviour, decreasing drudgery, input costs, and losses.
- Develop local agriculture experts within the community.
- Inter-sectoral coordination.
- Maximum leverage of Govt. agricultural and horticultural schemes directly to the farmers.
- Connect with financial networks.
- Vegetable and spice growing: Growth of 22 varieties of vegetables with scientific techniques like raised bed nursery, line sowing, use of homemade micro nutrients and pesticides, etc.
- Promotion of cash crops: Promoted with value addition. Turmeric, Chili, Banana are the main cash crops being promoted.
- Fruit cultivation: Introduced tissue culture Banana farming. Before our intervention, thousands of farmers had a perception that they will lose their crop by the extreme exploitation of wild elephants and other animals. Information sessions helped them gain confidence to farm these crops. The farmers are now receiving more than average rate from their crop. They are receiving an average increment of Rs 5000 for six-month crops.
- Organic Manuring: To reduce the dependency on chemical fertilisers with an objective to save and manage the natural resources, Swavlambanhas introduced the organic manure-related practices in the area.
Impact of the initiative
- 80% reduction in the losses caused by wild animals. Sublabel, Bamboo plantation used for protection.
- Migration reduced up to 86%.
- Crop production almost three times in comparison to traditional methods.
- Families engaged in illegal liquor making are turned towards DEHATs innovations, and villages are liquor free.
- All the children of target families now attending schools.
- No malnutrition cases reported from the target families.
- No case of the child marriage registered since the intervention.
- The man-animal conflict reduced up to 80%.
- Farmers awarded State Award for high production.
- All 1000 farmers registered on the website of Govt. Agriculture Department will now be able to avail all Govt. schemes and subsidies.
- Since 2011, the Govt. agriculture and horticulture schemes of Rs 78.82 Lakh have been leveraged directly to the farmers.
- Banana farmers are currently gaining Rs 3.21 lakh per acre net profit on an average through multi-layer farming. Farmers gained an extra income of Rs 64731 per acre on average.
- Organic manure-related practices reduced the consumption of chemical fertilisers up to 70% through 892 Vermi-compost pits and 387 HEAP compost pits.
- Solar pump irrigation saved 40 % cultivation cost to the farmers.
- The expenses on pesticides and micronutrients reduced up to 60% through home-based organic pesticide and micro-nutrient production units.
- DEHAT has developed 36 Common Resource Persons as farmer’s facilitators, who have trained more than 1200 farmers of the area during the meetings and the multiple sessions of training they have organised.
- MIS & Kisan Dairy developed a program to track the progress of the farmers.
Scale and sustainability of the initiative
These farmers are extending their support to the model and popularising its practices year by year. Farmers have been trained on the best farming related techniques. The practices are now implemented without DEHAT’s intervention.
The average land holding in most of India is below one acre, and this size is shrinking day by day. The increasing input costs are decreasing the interest of small and marginal farmers in farming practices, and farming is now treated as the enterprise in loss.
All the innovations are low cost and adaptable to anyone. The leverage of Govt. schemes sustains the idea anywhere. Hence, Swavlamban innovations are replicable at large scale.
Developmental Association for Human Advancement has worked with partners worldwide to empower and advocate for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged among us. We believe that sustainable development can only take place when all children are assured of their survival, protection, and have full participation in the development process. Visit https://dehatindia.org/ for more details.
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