Enlightening the lives in farms and beyond…

Mahadev Sahni, age forty-seven, is a small farmer in East Champaran district of Bihar, who has benefited from the Samagra Krishi (holistic agriculture) project in many ways. A happy father to his four children, he wants them to embrace a strong moral foundation, including the value of sharing. He is a generous man who loves to share what he has. Mahadev gives extra attention to his farmland, which he believes has nurtured him. He invests lot of sweat and time to manage his fields so they will flourish. The proud owner of a solar pump provided to him recently under the Samagra Krishi (holistic agriculture) project along with added agricultural advice and technological know-how, Mahadev shares what he has and what he has learned with his fellow farmers.

S M Sehgal Foundation (Sehgal Foundation), in collaboration with Bayer CropScience, implemented the Samagra Krishi project in twenty-five villages in three blocks—Chakia, Pakridayal, and Turkaulia—of the East Champaran district of Bihar. Underway since December 2015, the project aims at making small and marginal farming more remunerative by promoting sustainable farm practices that boost farm productivity. Key activities under the project include installation of 2HP solar submersible irrigation pumps, farm mechanization, soil testing, demonstrations on improved farming practices, animal nutrient management, training programs, establishment of kitchen garden kits, awareness workshops, and the development of educational materials.

Ram Kumar Pathak, field project coordinator of the Samagra Krishi project, said, “The selection of beneficiaries was done on the basis of landholdings size, total annual family income, income sources, access to water, agricultural inputs, credit, markets, and training. When we went to villages to meet farmers to join us in the project, Mahadev was one of the early ones to show interest and enthusiasm. He has helped many other farmers come on board and shares the benefits of the solar irrigation pump with other farmers.”

The solar pumps provided under the project have been linked with the available subsidy from National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), and a 10 percent contribution is collected from the beneficiaries. The pumps are under warranty for five years and insured for two years.
The use of solar submersible irrigation pumps has reduced the dependency on conventional energy. It has become an uninterrupted supply of energy for irrigation during the day time. Benefited farmers are irrigating their fields and providing irrigation to other farmers at a nominal cost, thus rippling the impact. Farmer testimonials indicate that the low operating cost of the solar irrigation pumps has made it possible to cultivate vegetables as cash crops.

After using the solar pump on his five-acre field, Mahadev said, “I am no longer dependant on electricity or diesel-operated pumps for irrigation. Due to the high operational cost of diesel pumps, it became very difficult to irrigate fields up to optimum frequency and this led to lower productivity and sometimes even crop failure. The cost I used to incur in buying diesel is now used for my family. The biggest satisfaction is that I am able to share my assets with other farmers and contribute my share in keeping the environment clean.”