Sustainable Agriculture practices by women’s groups in Drought hit Marathwada

Introduction

Drought ridden villages in Marathwada region are seeing a gradual change in addressing water scarcity and agriculture practices. Women leaders across the villages are taking the lead in introducing and scaling up innovative initiatives in sustainable agriculture livelihood focus on nutritious local foods for local consumption.

This is evident when you visit villages like Wolgud, Tirth, Savargaon, Sindhfal. Women Agriculture Groups are implementing less water varieties, locally `developed drip irrigation systems, prioritising local food security and promote vegetable as mixed and inter crop, discouraging farmers to give away cash crops like sugar cane and cultivate soyabean, pulse varieties. Recharging water sources to increase the ground water level in many villages are taking place while accessing govt scheme.

One acre model (mix, intercrop, drip, sprinkle, water efficiency crops)

This initiative is catching up in many villages at faster pace. Women groups who are members of Krishi Mahila Mandals are taking half acre to one acre land either or lease or own land to test, experiment and innovate various methods of agriculture that sustain in drought conditions.

Women groups are trained in different agriculture practices facilitated by Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP). Linking with Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tuljpaur, taking them to Agriculture University, Parbani, Organising Exposure visits to model villages and farm field, identifying their demand and need for local innovations and are some of the initiatives facilitated by Women Federation with the help of SSP.

Initiatives in Savar Gaon

Savar Goan is located near Tuljapur in Osmanabad. This village has a lot of local innovations and strong women leadership skills that demonstrate sustainable practices which can be transferred and scale up to similar villages.

Savar Gaon like other Marathwada region is reeling under severe drought for the last 4 to 5 years. Drought situation is becoming bad to worse every year. Less rains and scarcity of water led women groups to start thinking differently to tackle the issues.

Krishi Mahila Mandal was formed in this village with active participation of 50 members 2 years ago. The purpose of formation of Krishi Mahila Mandal is to learn new practices and implement the innovations in drought conditions as a group. The success of KMM initiatives is due to good women leadership and accessing training from Krishi Vigyan Kendras, Agriculture Universities and learning from peer groups. To address the situation, KMM groups discussed the problems in the meetings and decided to work with women federation to access training and resources from various institutions. This led them in partnering with Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Tuljpaur. The groups accessed training on Azola cultivation, poultry farming based on Kadaknath chicken variety etc.

There are about 10 to 12 women who are landless doing agriculture on onion, chilly, bindi and pulses like Tur and Harbara. Most of the members are taking half to one acre for cultivation.  Women members focus on local food consumption and the rest only will go for sale out of the village.

Waste water for irrigation

Prabhavathy Mali is an inspiration women leader who took innovative way for addressing water scarcity. When there was not enough water to cultivate the land she identified that lot of waste water from kitchens were flowing and accumulating at the end of the village. She started thinking how to use this waste water for her land. It was a stunning experience. When she channelized the waste water into her farming land with the help of her family members, she got enough water to cultivate various food crops. She is doing this practice for the last 4 years and other members took these initiatives in their own field also.

Prabhavathy has 10 animals and cultivated fodder in 7 gunte land. Using waste water she irrigates 2 acres of land and cultivated vegetables and onion. Her experiments continue in difficult circumstance and she shown the way for other communities to think for local innovation to address water scarcity.

Learning from neighbour and innovate it further

Taking a leaf out of it, another neighbour farmer Uttampal has taken one step ahead. He is a keen learner and innovator and utilised the waste water to irrigate his 2 acre land but he introduced a innovative way for filtering the waste water.

When he irrigated the land with waste water the crops was damaged due to the waste component. He thought of how to filter the waste from water and for irrigation. He tried various ways and succeeded in using a bathroom shower attached to the water pump and filters the waste water. Now he purchased a good shower from market and uses for filtering. He cultivates onions in one acre in drought conditions and demonstrated best methods that has to be learned by other groups and communities.

Kamal Vittal Pawar an active women leader utilised Rs 5000 from community resilience fund that transferred by Women Federation, Tuljapur.  After getting the CRF Kamal used the money for cultivation of Moringa, Tomato, Mirchi and Bindi in one acre land. She uses mixed cultivation and introduced drip methods to save water and good productivity. She got Rs. 4000 as profit from one acre cultivation. Moringa seeds are purchased from Solapur and she is expecting to get a good crop after the harvest in few months.

Leaders like Neeta Tanwade, Gangabai and Megha are very active in KMM initiatives and teaching other neighbouring villages to scale up the best practices.

The innovations and initiatives are taking ground and these practices are scaling up to neighbouring villages. Many women groups from other village shave visited here and learned the initiatives taken by community in addressing drought and water scarcity.

Meena Dange from Sindhfal village

Meena Dange from Sindhfal village own 2 acres of land. Meena belongs to Nisarga Krishi Mandal formed 3 years ago. She cultivated Onion in one acre and vegetables as mixed in one acre. She innovates and test various practices in agriculture in her land. For onion she use the traditional way of sowing the seeds spreading by throwing in the farm without any line or pattern. This practice is successful in her experience and gets good profit.  She cultivates vegetables that are good demand in teh market like Karela, Behngan and Kothambir. After the success she took 2 more acre on lease to cultivate more varieties.  In onion and vegetables she use sprinkler and drip.

SSP provides information on various technologies in meetings and KVK give training based on the need. She visit neighbouring villages and teach other communities and more than 100 women visited this village and learnt the practice.

Pest Trap (Madhi Sapda)

Another innovative approach is a yellow colour pest trap attract pest and trap inside. The use of this trap has marginally reduced spraying of pesticides and it keeps the product healthy.  She got the information from fellow farmer and purchased the pest trap from the market

Marketing
Meena got 80,000 profits in 20 gunte cultivation of Karela while selling in the market of Nanded, Aurangabad and Latur. Meena sell the product directly to the market in cities and avoid middleman. She call and enquire the price in various places and sell where she get the maximum price.

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