Till a few decades ago, most people in India grew vegetables and fruits in their own gardens. Then something changed. We shifted from ‘farming for food’ to ‘farming for money’. The start of the ‘green revolution’ meant that production increased but so did the farmer’s dependency on chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides.
This shift in farming – from lifestyle to livelihood – also resulted in women keeping away from most farming decisions even though they were involved in the various tasks of sowing, reaping, harvesting and filling up the granaries. They aren’t called ‘farmers’ and they don’t benefit from training on farming concepts and schemes but some women in villages in Alipurduar, West Bengal have managed to change this for themselves.
Bimala Barman from Paschim Borochowki village is an enthusiastic member of the Annapurna women’s self-help group. She looks after the group’s rice bank that is set up in her house. This 14-member group is futuristic to say the least. They collect surplus rice from each of their members’ rice produce and save it in their rice bank. They give this to people in the village, including their members, during the lean season when people don’t have enough to eat. The same is returned after the harvest.
Bimala’s neighbour Kalpana Sutradhar has a farm, which mirrors a natural/forest ecosystem – where there is enough food for both man and animals. She grows multiple crops that complement each other so she has food year-round. On a small plot of land, she has placed several pots of water buried under the ground, which supply constant regulated moisture to the soil. The rest of the farm is irrigated with rainwater, which she catches in a pond that is also home to many kinds of fish.
Read more on how women are sowing the seeds of change, at our content partners, India Water Portal. India Water Portal is a website that shares knowledge and builds communities around water and related issues in India.
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