March 2016

A farmer's best friend

The knowledge that Shiv Devi gained through adopting new farming methods, agricultural training and best cultivation practices were put to good use when she became a Krishi Sakhi, a friend or advisory to farmers

Shiv Devi belongs to a poor family in Salepur village, Dholpur district, Rajasthan. Her family owns 1.5 acres of land, on which they practice their primary occupation — agriculture. Shiv Devi has been associated with the Jai Rajasthan Mahila Bachat Samuh for the last four years. She is a very active member of the self-help group and participates in every meeting in her village as well as those held in the nearby villages. Last year, her cluster members named her 'Krishi Sakhi' or 'friend of agriculture'.

The fruit of Shiv Devi's hard work, ripened ears of corn, stand taller than her 

Very interested in learning new methods of agriculture, she was open to trying them out in her fields. Even under adverse conditions, with the weather playing havoc with the crops, she still managed to cultivate 7.2 quintals of bajra across 0.9 acres during the kharif season, whilst leaving the balance land fallow; while in the rabi season, she grew 13 quintals of wheat (0.9 acres) and 5.7 quintals of mustard (0.6 acres). In comparison, the average yields in the village from the same plots of land were 8 quintals of wheat, 3 quintals of mustard and 4 quintals of bajra. Shiv Devi's success lay in her constant efforts and her keen interest in participating in the Krishi Pathsala and other agricultural training organised under the Sakh Se Vikas initiative (SSV).

As a Krishi Sakhi, she worked with 40 farmers. Initially, they were reluctant to adopt the package of practices (PoP) in their own agricultural fields. In order to convince them, she demonstrated the best farming practices on her own land. Thirty one of the forty farmers have now adopted farming practices based on PoPs. Not content with this, Shiv Devi is also helping 10 farmers grow kitchen gardens. With her help and training, they now grow chili, brinjal, bottle gourd, torai, beans, garlic and onions. Due to her diligence and constant efforts, the villagers are now showing an increased interest in new farming methods, as well as an acceptance of advanced PoP that is being promoted by Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), a leading non-profit organisation working in the area and supported by the Trusts under SSV.

Shiv Devi's constant efforts at self-improvement have earned her the status of Krishi Sakhi not only in her village, but also nearby villages. Farmers seek her advice about machines for urea application and spraying pesticides. She is the perfect example of how working together, and forming self-help groups, can create a secure and sustainable village community. Self-effacing to the core, Shiv Devi is full of gratitude towards PRADAN for making her confident and self-motivated.

Her husband proudly states, ‘Head hai khaitibadi ki.’