The Flourishing Crops of Mahavir Singh
Mahavir Singh is 50 years old and works as a farmer in the village of Jaffarabadh in Mewat, Haryana, India. He has been struggling using traditional farming methods for the past 30 years. With Sehgal Foundation’s help, he has learned about low cost farming interventions that can significantly improve his income.
Mahavir Singh owns 4 acres of land in Jaffarabadh. He grew wheat for many years and earned just enough to make his ends meet. Three years ago, he decided to try growing vegetables. Vegetables bring in more income, but need a lot of care. Mahavir had avoided growing them out of fear that they may fail. He decided to begin by growing cucumbers on one acre of his land.
Mahavir explained his experience, “Three years ago, I decided to risk growing vegetables. I purchased cucumber seeds from the local market and sowed them with the utmost care. I waited for the crop until harvesting time, but was astounded to find absolutely no yield. I wondered whether the local merchant cheated me, maybe he sold me fake seeds. Later, I learned that I should have planted the seed in the rainy season, not in the summer. This mistake was purely due to my lack of knowledge in agriculture. I have years of experience following traditional methods, but I’m realizing that knowledge is more important than experience.”
The Sehgal Foundation works on integrated, sustainable development projects aroung the Mewat region. They approached Mahavir and offered to teach him better agricultural practices. The Foundation’s staff visited his field and recommended that he intercrop peas and radishes. Mahavir learned about the importance of using quality seeds, which to grow based on climatic conditions, and how to find them.
Mahavir did not waste time and followed the Foundation’s advice by planting peas and radishes. Other farmers in the community were skeptical that the interventions would make a difference. Mahavir was delighted to find a high crop yield. The yield stayed high, even after two harvests. When he grew wheat, he would only get one harvest. Mahavir earned Rs. 10,000 by selling green peas at Rs. 7/kg and dry peas at Rs. 10/kg. He was able to earn an extra Rs. 5000 by growing radish and selling it at Rs. 6/kg. His gross income for the season was Rs. 19,000 and his cost of production was Rs.1,775. Mahavir made a net profit of Rs. 17,225 by following the small recommended farming interventions.
After his success with intercropping, Mahavir is now interested in growing other vegetables like squash and cucumber. He is willing to take the necessary time away from his work to attend farming training sessions. The Foundation recently helped him set up and taught him how to use a vermi composting unit. Mahavir saw tremendous results from the unit. His production costs reduced and crop yields rose in the 1-acre where he used it. He is now planning 4 vermi composting units for his 4 acres of land.
Mahavir’s story shows that a little bit of knowledge and training can change the lives of rural farmers in India. The Sehgal Foundation will continue to provide agricultural training to rural villagers. It looks forward to more villagers benefitting from increased crop yields and household income.
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