Vimal Khode is packing lunch and Shrikrishna Khode is preparing his jhola – a jhola that contains a bottle with drinking water, two ghamchas, and a small knife, which he will use to remove the stubborn weeds. They walk for 30 minutes to reach their one acre farm which was lying barren until 6 months back. The erstwhile barren land is now planted with 370 pomegranate saplings, installed with drip irrigation equipment, and intercropped with pulses.Shrikrishna and Vimal belong to the village of Vijaygopal, in Wardha district, 100 kms from Nagpur, Maharashtra. It is situated in the heart of the Vidarbha region, a region that is marred by an agrarian crisis. Dependency on cash crops, volatile markets, and droughts are the main contributing factors of the distress in Vidarbha. Farmers were neck-deep in debt and thousands committed suicide, in a desperate measure to avoid paying off these debts
Turning around lives:
Aggrieved by the situation, the couple approached various farmer collectives and NGOs for help. Naandi Foundation decided to step in to help. Naandi designed a project that employed sustainable cultivation of the horticultural crop, pomegranate. Yes – pomegranate!The elderly couple were the first ones to implement this in Vijaygopal– they cleared the land, dug 370 pits of size one feet by one feet, which took a total of 150 man hours, filled the pits with 900 kgs of farm inputs in the specified dosages, planted 370 pomegranate saplings, and intercropped the farm with pulses. Word spread around, farmers slowly joined one by one, and today over 600 farmer 600 farmer families across 2 talukas of Wardha district are cultivating high value crops, such as pomegranates.
The Naandi way:
With constant support, expertise and advice from Naandi, farmers here are able to fight the distressed conditions and not just survive, but thrive and do well for themselves. Naandi Foundation ensures that farmers adopt non-chemical farming, best practices of organic cultivation and have access to advisory.
How you can help:
Projects such as these are proof that even in the worst of conditions, right support and advice can turn things around for farmers. Naandi aims to help farmers here prepare 1000 acres of market ready, high quality, pomegranate cultivations by 2017, by providing mounding of land and installation of drip irrigation equipment, to top quality saplings and bio-inputs for improving soil health, deterring weeds and pests.
You can help in this cause too. A donation of Rs 2500 will help a farmer plant ten pomegranate saplings. Rs 50,000 can help plan an entire acre. Every donation made by you, is matched by Mahindra and Mahindra, creating double the impact.
The work includes creating a viable unit of one acre of horticulture, including the use of earth movers for land preparation, installing drip irrigation equipment along with high quality saplings, and organic inputs for growth of plants.Click here to learn more on how you can save Vidarbha farmers from suicide