The leading force of Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Tuljapur Dr. V.G. Takankhar was amazed to see the work done by women’s groups. He said “Usually the centre gets enquiry and assistance from male farmers. This is the first time women farmers through Tuljapur Women’s Federation approached us for innovative learning on organic farming.
Godavari and Leela were and are the leading force of Women’s Federation to have dialogue with KVK and facilitate training with women community.
KVK provided training for selected women groups in six villages on organic seed processing, land preparation, compost from agricultural waste, marketing. This training led women leaders to start organic vegetable cultivation in selected areas of their land. Slowly they are introducing more varieties and expanding the areas as well. The women members who do the activities are increasing in all the villages. After a good start and response from women groups, KVK is planning to do more advanced training on organic farming and to reach to more villages.
KVK is a government institution doing research on local crops and cropping patterns. As part of their extension service to the farmers, they provide information on government schemes, new agricultural practices, new varieties of seeds and skill building needed to achieve higher productivity. When they met the women’s group, KVK was surprised by the interest and involvement of women in agriculture.
Women’s Federation has also provided the Innovation Fund obtained from SSP to implement their plan. Women who generate new ideas for reducing vulnerabilities of their communities are given this Fund for them to translate their notions into practical projects and implement it with full control over the Fund given to them to use it as they see appropriate and in the process learn accounting etc.
Training and capacity building
The Krishi Vigyan Kendra provided training to women’s groups on preparation of the land, soil testing and preparation, selection and timing for sowing of seeds, the benefits of organic farming, production of organic compost and pest control.
Land preparation is important before sowing the seeds. In the training conducted by KVK, 25 women farmers from 10 villages took part to learn the importance of internal mulching, use of water and selection of seeds according to the land quality.
In the training module on soil testing, women learnt how to prepare the soil, which soil is good for various type of vegetables and how to take the soil sample to send to KVK for testing. KVK would analyze the content of the soil and indicate which nutrient is high or low and based on the findings, it will advise the community to use specific organic fertilizer to increase the fertility.
The farmers were sowing seeds two to three times without any plan. Due to erratic rain pattern these seeds did not often germinate. Through the training women have learnt how to prepare organic seeds, which are the appropriate bio-fertilisers, how to preserve the seeds till the time of sowing and when and how to sow the seeds. This way, they are saving seeds, labour and money. They are now aware of effective nutrition supplements like Cruz, acetobacter and PSB to obtain good result. They themselves are preparing seeds for their own cultivation which saves cost, reduces dependency on the market and increases the production. They have prepared seeds of green gram, millet, black gram, Bengal gram, wheat, chilly, onion, coriander and garlic.
The community has a large number of cattle and so plenty of dung was available. Besides, agricultural waste was not put to any use and was merely dumped around the village. KVK advised KMK women to prepare organic compost, using the agricultural waste mixed with appropriate quantity of cow dung. Now they are using this compost for cultivating vegetables in own lands.
Pest control workshop was organized by Agricultural University for 40 farmers. The participants learnt that if the pests are in early stage they should do some treatment with help of organic pest control. If farmers are not able to identify the pest, they should contact the University.
With this set of comprehensive farm management training inputs, the KMM launched their farming. One of the members, Mahananda Bhosle, has undergone various training programmes on organic farming organized for the group; started vegetable cultivation in organic manner in one acre of her own land. She prepares her own seeds, uses organic fertilizer and bio-pesticides. Bhosle took a loan for starting farming, took to inter-cropping, makes three crops a year; and makes a profit of Rs.10,000 to 15,000 per harvest. She was a key motivator and with the other members of KMM to start this eco-friendly approach. Ms.Bhosle led from the front and encouraged women to contribute labour and seeds together in the group. KMM was active in bringing new knowledge and partnership with specialized organizations. This paved the way of to get recognition among male farmers who have concentrated on single cash crops. Since Ms. Bhosle was successful in preparing seeds for her own farm according to the methods taught by the KVK, the latter has made her an offer to buy seeds from her and promote it if her seeds are good and yield more. Ms. Bhosle was interviewed by All India Radio and by describing her experience, requested the listeners to adopt her way of farming and marketing.
– Swayam Shikshan Prayog, February 2012