“I was the first one to adopt change in my village, and I am the one progressing faster than the rest,” shares Maya, brimming with pride.
In village Sotaka Bas in Alwar, Rajasthan, vegetable farming is done mostly by women. Contrary to popular belief, women here make up an active farming community. Maya Devi, a middle-aged woman and a mother of two is adorned with confidence that she never had before.
Maya is a small landholder, and she cultivates seasonal vegetables. What makes her stand apart from her fellow neighboring farming women is her curiosity to learn and adapt to advancements. Until a year ago, Maya was getting low returns and even lower quality of produce in comparison to her efforts and hard work. “If we were not told about soil testing, we would not have known how important micronutrients are for the crop,” says Maya, expressing her gratitude.
This region of Alwar, Rajasthan, has poor soil quality and a high deficiency in important minerals needed for healthy growth of any crop. The farming community of the region is unaware of the soil health. Under the project Jagruk Krishak supported by IDRF, the Sehgal Foundation team conducted soil testing and educated the farming women in Sotaka Bas about micronutrients required in soil to grow a healthy crop. During field days conducted as part of training and demonstration sessions, Maya Devi and other farmers witnessed the difference in the growth of vegetables with their prevalent agricultural methods when compared to vegetables grown in soil with added micronutrients. Maya saw and understood the importance of zinc, boron, potash, sulphur, and other important micronutrients that act as food for the soil.
Maya Devi’s journey from a krishak (farmer) to a jagruk krishak (conscious farmer) has resulted in increased self-confidence, the ability to make informed agricultural decisions, as well as increased crop productivity and profits thereafter. She is ready for her next plantation of cauliflower and tomatoes. From the savings of her earlier produce (lady finger, brinjal, and green chili), she has decided to install a drip irrigation unit in her field, a progressive decision to further water-saving in agriculture.
Jagruk krishak Maya Devi is unstoppable. She inspires many around her with her undaunted spirit to become better and innovate in little ways. She affirms, “Small steps can make a big difference.”
(Jincy Chacko is communications associate at S M Sehgal Foundation)