Barefoot Ambassador for Organic Farming in Kerala – Alice Vijayan

09 Dec 2019

Being grown up in a farmer’s family, Alice has a passion for agricultural development in her area. Her father, who is a well-known agriculturist of her area, has inspired her to take up agriculture as a primary source of livelihoods. Until her marriage, she used to help her father in the agricultural activity in the village. Soon after her marriage, she continued to be involved in agriculture in a different way like adopting the modern practices which are more sustainable and lucrative as compared to traditional farming.

She became a member of NHG (neighbourhood group) under the Karuna JLG in the year 2011. Realizing the potency and passion of her in agricultural development, she was selected as a CRP (Krishi Sakhi) of her village by Kudumbashree in the year 2016. Through DAY-NRLM support, she has been trained in various practices adopted in Sustainable agriculture. She has undergone 25 different trainings on sustainable agricultural practices over three years.

In her husband’s house, she started cultivation in about 67 cents of land, where she grows paddy, which has only resulted in low productivity and low income since they adopted the traditional practices. While realizing the low income from the small piece of land, she started diversifying her activities by introducing other options like backyard poultry farming, duck rearing, and fish farming in that piece of land.

Initially, she used to get Rs. 15,000 from her small piece of land through the cultivation of vegetables only. However, after the training which she got through DAY-NRLM programme changed her mind to diversify her agricultural systems. She then searched for various activities that can enhance her income from this small piece of land. She has adopted and practised ornamental fish cultivation, backyard poultry farming, nutmeg (medicinal plant) cultivation, and large scale banana cultivation. Last year she incurred a profit of Rs. 60,000 through multiple interventions like Ornamental fish cultivation (Rs. 2,000), backyard poultry framing (Rs. 10,000), nutmeg (medicinal plant) cultivation (Rs. 3,000) and large scale banana cultivation (Rs. 25,000) and vegetable cultivation (Rs. 20,000). Looking after the success of this small piece of land, she started to expand her coverage by accruing 5 acres of land on lease basis by paying Rs. 60,000 as rent, which she has taken a loan from her NHG.

After getting regular training from DAY-NRLM, she has developed self-awareness on the consequences of use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. The continuous training programmes changed her mindset to advocate for organic farming. She first demonstrated the organic way of cultivation in her small piece of land and invited all her NHG and JLG members to visit her farm and shared the benefit. Due to her this unique effort, all the 1,300 households have adopted non-chemical methods of cultivation.

She runs an organic manure shop in her village, where she sells organic manures particularly vermicompost to her participating households. Now she has been promoted as a full time master farmer, who looks after the agricultural interventions made by her JLG (joint liability group) members in her area and provide them adequate handholding support in terms of practical adaptation. Presently, she is catering to the agricultural advisory needs of 750 Households directly and 1,300 households indirectly.

She bagged two awards to her credit, namely the Best women farmer award from Department of Agriculture, Government of Kerala at Krishi Bhavan, Chertha South and Best women farmer award from Kanjikuzhi Block Panchayat during the year 2016. At the age of 60, she is not dependent on someone from her family for her livelihood. She enjoys working with the fellow Mahila Kisans of her area with a great passion for promoting organic farming in the region. The Mahila Kisans of her area recognised her as a facilitator cum promoter of organic farming systems.

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