Conserving Land through Adoption of Agro-Ecological Practices – Maheshwari Nisad
Maheshwari in childhood was very inclined to study, but at the age of 19, she was married even without completing 9th standard. She married in a joint family with a lot of responsibilities. She was involved in farming with her in laws after marriage. In an emergency, they took a loan from landlords at a high interest rate and remained indebted for a long time. In 2013, she joined Ganga Maa SHG. She was timid before joining the SHG. She attended several meetings and trainings, which expanded her horizon. She started moving outside and became capable of discussing various topics related to sustainable agriculture in different forums. She started handling the issue like education, medical expenses of her family, the input cost requirement, crop planning, among others.
The turning point came when the Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture (CMSA) project started under the national flagship program of NRLM in 2014. The focus was on reviving natural ecosystem destroyed by this application and how it has an alarming impact on human health, which, if not controlled, can annihilate the whole world. Input cost of agriculture was increasing day by day because of the increased use of fertilizers and pesticides. This situation was becoming a bottleneck, and this project was as a catalyst to lead a movement for sustainable agriculture. Her family was very supportive in her activity and always appreciated her movement outside of the home and allowed her to attend all the trainings related to this project
She was selected by the VO as AKM (Ajeevika Krishi Mitra). She attended state level training at Raipur where she shared her experience of SRI practices, kitchen garden, 36X36 model, Ghana Jeevamrut, Drabya jeevamrut, seed sorting and seed treatment and root treatment by Beejamrut, Neemastra as repellents, seed bed preparation among others. After this training she was selected by the trainers to go to NIRD&PR, Hyderabad for further specialised training on organic practices.
She had 2.5 acres of land, used entirely for paddy in Kharif and 0.3 acres for vegetable in Rabi. The cost of cultivation previously was Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 12,000 per acre with a production of 1.5 – 1.8 tonnes per acre. After adhering to organic practices, their cost of cultivation came down to Rs. 7,000 per acre. Productivity in paddy increased to 2.2 tonnes from 1.5 tonnes. She has a kitchen garden of 0.03 acres in which she cultivates a vegetable in the three seasons. In her residence, she has a bore-well to fulfil the irrigation need in the kitchen garden. Round the year for 4 months, they are getting vegetables from this kitchen garden (creepers, Amaranthus, coriander, brinjal, okra, carrot, etc.).
Her next challenge was to popularise the organic movement. She actively demonstrated the preparation of organic manures and application of which in the paddy field build a trust amongst 110 farmers with whom she was engaged. Gradually after seeing the impact of organic manure application, other farmers started cultivating paddy and vegetables in a small patch of land in organic methodology. The significant benefits which the farmers experienced were reduced cost in fertilizers and pesticides. Secondly, production stabilised. Thirdly the seed rate per acre decreased very significantly. Another benefit which the farmers experienced was the change in the taste of different crops, specially vegetables. She quotes, “We live for ourselves; however we keep enriching our soil with organic methods and sustainable agriculture, for our future generation the soil will not be barren but a resource”. “Hum apne liye to jeete hain par agar jammen ko jaivik upay se surakshit rakhenge to humare ane wale phidi ke liye yo zameen banzaar nahin par ek sansadhan kahelayega”