Background: Shamal Shinde of Kemadwadi village in Tuljapur block Osmanabad district used to take care of her house and also practice agriculture. She incidentally came to know about SSP and SSP made a big difference in her life. She founded an Self Help Group in the village and they named it as ‘Mauly SHG’ earlier no one in the village would value her efforts and women from the village also were not very keen to work in the village but eventually some women agreed to be a part of this SHG. Eventually, the SHG started functioning well and it has won 3 awards also. This gave the SHG recognition and appreciation from the villagers also. The women in the SHG gained a lot of confidence from this but the routine work of regular saving inter-loaning and loan repayment was not giving the women ample satisfaction. They wanted to do something else, something more meaningful. They formed a women farmer’s federation with help from facilitation from SSP’s local coordinator and under the leadership of Shamalatai in 2009. Lilatai and Godawaritai from SSP oriented and guided the women to start organic farming in small plots of land.
Learning and Experience: They also got training from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Tuljapur on organic farming its best practices and their economic and health benefits. Through the training they learned about soil and water testing techniques, making various organic fertilizers and pesticides and scientific seed germination techniques and systematic methods of organic farming. Through the training from KVK they also learned about the ill effects on heath due to use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and how soil’s fertility is reduced due to their usage.
Shamalatai had experience in traditional farming earlier therefore she first started farming on 3 Acres out of her 18 Acres of land and cultivated Soybean, chili, papaya and onions. The production was high and of good quality. Motivated from this the other women also started cultivating vegetables on their small plots. Shamalatai also went on her own to Delhi, Bangalore and Pune to further learn about organic farming. Inspired from her learning and expedited they decided to cultivate vegetables on a hilly wasteland of the village. When the women told this to other villagers all of them made fun of them and thought that it was a foolish idea to do so but the women were dedicated to cultivate on that land. With great efforts and dedication they irrigated the land removed stones and levelled the soil, after adding adequate amount of fertilizers as guided by the KVK the land was ready for cultivation. They then planted various green leafy vegetables and chillies and onions on the fields. They got a bumper harvest from this land. They used the produce in their houses, gave it to the aganwadi and also sold it in the market. Their hard work and dedication ripped fruits for them. Today the villagers respect their effort and they are able to grow various vegetables as a group in the wasteland of Kemwadi village.