Archana Bhosle, resident of Devsinga village, Osmanabad district of Maharashtra was awarded, “Sarva Utkrushta Krishi Samman Puraskar 2016” organised by Media Roots and supported by Indofil Industries Limited on January 16, 2016.
Archana was awarded for her exemplary work in the field of agriculture. President of Women’s Farmer group of her village, she has been engaged in sustainable agriculture practices on her 5 acres of land for over 10 years now. She continues to share and demonstrate her successful sustainable initiatives and cultivation methods to other farmers in her village and three other villages across Osmanabad.
With the organisational support from Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) and technical support from Krishi Vigyan Kendra, till date, she has reached out information, trainings and awareness on water efficient methods, low cost inputs for cultivation and fodder preparation to 500 more women and men farmers across 4 villages in Osmanabad district.
Archana shared, “Our village is one of the drought hit areas and each year we face shortage of water for cultivation and consumption. Earlier, together with the family we only focussed on cultivating Sugarcane every year and buy vegetables for daily meals from the closest market – Tuljapur market which was around 15 kms away.
With the interventions of SSP, the team started mobilizing women to organize themselves in Self Help Groups (SHG) mostly for financial assistance. After a couple of years it was observed that most of the loans taken by the members were to meet family health/ medical expenditures or for supporting agriculture.
It was then, SSP established women’s farmer groups in each village. Archana, as the President of the farmer group in her village provides information and support – starting with soil testing by directly linking the farmers to the KVK for soil analysis. She provides awareness on need for shift from traditional cash crop cultivation with focus on food security, health and well being. She provides information around sustainable farming techniques – cultivation of water efficient crops, adoption of organic method – use of vermi compost, biospray and bio fertilizers. Archana, shared that preparation of alternate fodder such as Azolla and Hydroponic has proved to be very useful for the farmers.
The women farmers in the group and three other villages have now started growing Jowar, Wheat and Vegetables in the land allocated to them with full discretion by their families. At present Archana’s group has over 25 acres of land all controlled by women where all these sustainable cultivation practices are followed.
Archana shares, “Now the women not only take care of their families health by cultivating vegetables in their own lands and use it for consumption but also have started understanding the composition of land and accordingly take care of it too!“
She also encourages farmers to diversify their livelihoods and focus of agri – allied activities to ensure some alternative flow of income during drought situations. Few of the women have graduated further and have started selling vegetables in their village itself – making it accessible in their own village and also extended to other cluster markets where much better price is ensured. Other women farmers have also started local businesses around poultry, goatery, dairy, dal mill and more villages.
Archana, is one of the role models across the network of farmer groups of SSP. She has addressed farmers in her own village and surrounding villages and shared her experiences in large village gatherings.
Archana shares, “Earlier in the village, we could not get wage labourers easily during the harvest season, grains would go to waste and face loss. Now, the farmer groups have brought women together. We share each others resources – animals, tractors and human resources as well. Women together work in each other’s farms when required support and results in timely completion of sowing or harvesting without any losses.”
She finally shares, “The teams from SSP, KVK and ATMA, have supported us in all ways and have provided information and awareness through trainings, exposure visits, exchange learnings, demonstrations, access to basic tools and equipments. With the interventions, contribution of women farmers now started being recognized by their families and in the village. We have gained more knowledge and confidence than before. Also, income has increased. Being a part of the farmer’s group network, we have received a platform to share our challenges, experiences, success stories and help encourage more women and men to adopt sustainable farming practices.”