My name is Kailash Prasad Gupta. I am a resident of Gazipur, Uttar Pradesh. I have a BSc in Agriculture and a master’s in Social Work. I have two daughters; the elder has completed her teachers training, and the younger daughter is studying in grade 11. My wife is a teacher working in a private school. After completing my education, I ventured into business, but I soon realized it was not my calling, and thus made inroads into social work.
From 2001–2008, I was associated with self-help group projects being facilitated by the Mewat Development Agency (MDA). Afterward, I joined Rotary International Project in Chamba where I worked with farmers. While working with MDA, I heard about Sehgal Foundation’s work and its strong community presence. Somewhere inside, I thought, If I get an opportunity, I would love to work for such an organization. That thought soon turned into a reality. In 2012, I joined Sehgal Foundation under the NABARD project being implemented in five villages of Nuh district, Haryana.
Agriculture is the mainstay of rural communities. The block where the project on agriculture and animal husbandry was implemented is affected by water salinity. The agricultural practices proposed were keeping in mind the salinity issue and suggesting appropriate salt-tolerant crop varieties and how to improve soil fertility. We suggested soil testing and applying fertilizers according to the soil health need. We carried out crop demonstrations for wheat and mustard by using these practices to cultivate a half acre of a farmer’s land and using their traditional methods on the other half to demonstrate the qualitative difference. We saw active engagement of community members in farmer field days and animal health checkup camps. People resorted to animal insurance and mineral mixture feed for animals.
I have always felt close to farmers and can easily strike up a conversation with farmers and interact with them to understand their challenges and discuss solutions. Earlier I had worked with women in self-help groups, but this work gave me an opportunity to work with all community members. It was a proud moment for me to be recognized for Sehgal Foundation’s work in the NABARD project meeting in Chandigarh, Haryana, where the officials congratulated me for representing the organization and doing good work.
Later I worked (2015–17) in Sehgal Foundation’s Adaptive Technologies-Agriculture where the team emphasized increasing crop productivity, experimenting on salt-tolerant crop varieties, and introducing short-duration pigeon pea, bed-making, and mulching for tomatoes. It is heartening to see that farmers are adopting the agricultural techniques being promoted by Sehgal Foundation in intervention villages and beyond.
The dedication and transparent culture of the organization has paved the way for building community trust and participation. I often hear people say, “If Sehgal Foundation is doing something, it must be worthwhile.” The strength of the organization lies in its people, who have gone from a multifold work presence in four villages in one district to about 890 villages across twenty-seven districts in eight states across India.
I have also experienced a transformation in me, both personally and professionally. Since women’s empowerment and gender issues are embedded themes in Sehgal Foundation work, this has given me a lens to identify women’s very crucial role in agriculture and elsewhere and to include women in each intervention. I feel honored to be a part of this team. I strongly believe that our work defines us, and passion always speaks for itself!
(Kailash Gupta is agricultural specialist at S M Sehgal Foundation)