Transition to Bio-diverse Ecological Farming in Maharashtra
Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM), Pune, Maharashtra
Contact: Ms. Seema Kulkarni
Dates: March 2021 – September 2024
2021 Budget: Rs.5,00,000 (used in 2022)
PPI’s grant was used to support 25 women farmers from the Yavatmal district of Vidarbha, Maharashtra, in the second year of their transition to chemical-free, self-sufficient agriculture. SOPPECOM used PPI’s 2021 covid-19 grant to support the first year of work. Yavatmal is one of the districts with the highest farmer suicide rate in Maharashtra. The overall project is part of a larger program involving 180 women in six districts and funded by four donors (of whom PPI is one).
By using a model of farming developed by Chetna Vikas (a partner NGO), the women learned how to grow mixed crops (intercrop food and cash crops) without using chemical fertilizers, weedicides, or pesticides. They used disease-resistant seeds and learned how to make organic fertilizers and pesticides. They were also trained in soil building and water conservation. They planted pulses such as tur, mung, urad, grains such as jowar and corn, and 12-15 varieties of vegetables. Some women also grew non BT cotton on an experimental basis.
Based on the experience from 2021, in addition to providing seed and manure, SOPPECOM also provided fencing material and well as small farming tools such as sowing machines, hand-held weeders, and cycle weeders.
One of the highlights of the program is improvement in nutrition, as families have more vegetables and pulses for self-consumption. The women have also started to grow turmeric as a cash crop by defying the superstition around turmeric cultivation by menstruating women (as turmeric is used on auspicious occasions).
Through events organized by SOPPECOM, women from different districts are sharing experiences about farming and how to set up self-help groups (SHGs).