Kaasam Gets a Bank Account
The picturesque village of Raniyali in the district of Mewat, Haryana, is a typical abode for the rural poor in India. Most inhabitants of the village are Meo Muslim farmers. They suffer from high rates of illiteracy and maintain a patriarchal mindset.
Located in the center of the village, Kaasam’s house is standard for the community. A large veranda welcomes visitors into small, poorly constructed rooms. Two buffaloes are tied in the corner of the veranda and fodder lies unattended next to a fodder wheel. Three jute beds sit in the center of the veranda. Here, male members of the family greet visitors and enjoy their evening snacks.
Kaasam is nearing his 60s and has participated in agricultural activities for over thirty years. He cultivates four acres of land to provide for his wife, two sons, daughter-in-laws and his grandchildren. Kaasam’s sons help in the field, and the women take care of the house, children and other laborious jobs of the farm.
Until two years ago, the family’s lifestyle was basic. They worked hard, following traditional agricultural practices prevalent in the region. But time and time again, they were still unable to reap good harvest.
“Farming is the main occupation of the people in Raniyali. However, despite it being our primary source of income, we had hardly any opportunities to upgrade our skills and knowledge. As a result, we had used urea and DAP as fertilizers for years,” Kaasam said.
Many farmers use fertilizers to replenish nutrients to soil. These nutrients are critical for high crop yields and good crop quality. “Under traditionally acquired knowledge, farmers of the region have been using the same kind of fertilizers for many years. This has made the soil deficient in some minerals and over exposed to others,” said Pawan Kumar, Program Leader of Agricultural Development at Sehgal Foundation.
“In 2012, the Krishi Jyoti project of Sehgal Foundation started working with the farmers in Raniyali to help them increase crop productivity,” said Kaasam. The Krishi Jyoti project works to increase crop productivity while reducing cultivation costs. Sehgal Foundation staff provides field demonstrations. They teach farmers about balanced fertilizer application, pesticides, and alternate seed varieties. The program works to bring about positive change in the lives of farmers.
“After applying the new practices,” Kassam said, “my mustard and millet crop yield increased by 25% and 35% respectively. I also learned a package of practices for onion crop, and recognize the importance of this knowledge. Today, I apply the knowledge I’ve gained to all my crops. My annual income has increased from Rs 1.25 lakh [Rs 125,000] to Rs 2 lakh [Rs 200,000],” he said.
For the first time, this increase in income has enabled Kaasam to provide his family with all of their basic necessities. He has been able to open a savings bank account, where he deposits his remaining profit. Kaasam now has the means to invest in a better future for his family.
A proud Kaasam remarked that this new agriculture knowledge has enabled him to grow along with his crops.
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