Earthy Wisdom – Women organic farmers of eastern UP show the way

With her one-acre farm, Ramrati and her husband Rambahal are able to sustain their 12-member family throughout the year and earn a monthly income.

————————With her one-acre farm, Ramrati and her husband Rambahal are able to sustain their 12-member family throughout the year and earn a monthly income.


With her one-acre farm, Ramrati and her husband Rambahal are able to sustain their 12-member family throughout the year and earn a monthly income.

At a time of widespread concerns about the crisis situation faced by an increasing number of farmers, the remarkable achievements of some women organic farmers have appeared like a ray of hope in Gorakhpur district of eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Prabhavati Devi is one such farmer based in Dudhai village (Sardarnagar block). Along with her husband Suryabhan she owns one and a half acres of land. It is a very small farm, but this family utilised it in such a well-planned way that this small piece of land provides nutritious food to the 10 member family all through the year, apart from earning them a steady cash income all through the year. In addition, the cost of cultivation is kept very low. The quality of grain, vegetables and other produce is very good as no chemical fertilizers and pesticides are used. Hence the vegetables grown here have many eager buyers.

Another interesting aspect of this family is that while all members make their contribution, the leadership role of Prabhadevi is clearly and easily accepted. This became obvious from the way in which she provided us all the details and guided us in the farm at the time of our visit. Prabhavati, 53, follows the ‘food first’ approach by trying to meet as many of her family’s food needs from the small farm. So not only her family’s grain (rice, wheat, maize) and vegetables (over 20) but also many pulses, oilseeds and spices are grown on this small field. Every nook and corner is utilised in a judicious way to grow some food crop or the other. The way in which one plant can support another crop – for example by providing shade – is kept in mind while growing various diverse crops. Fruit trees like mango, banana, jack fruit, bel, papaya, mulberry, lemon and pomegranates also have a place in the farm. Medicinal plants like tulsi and jwarankura have a place of honour in the fields.

All this is nice, but obviously Prabhavati cannot ignore the cash needs of her family. So, various crops are planned in such a way that beyond the family’s needs, a cycle of vegetables, fruits and other crops for the market is ensured. Prabhavati has also leased a small plot on sharecropping basis to grow groundnuts for the market.

When an attempt was made to count all the crops grown by her on the small farm, more than 50 crops could be counted. Fuel wood and small timber needs were also met by the bamboo grown. In addition there were three buffaloes and four goats. Last but not the least important component of Prabhavati’s success is how she makes judicious use of local resources to provide her farm inputs and does not purchase any fertilizers or pesticides from the market. She and her family prepare their own compost. Here also they improvise – when they could not easily buy cement for the composting tank, they made do with branches and bamboos from their own field. To prepare pest-repellants, Prabhavati uses neem and dhatura plants as well as cow’s urine. Her main cash expense is on diesel for the borewell.

Prabhavati inherited a field of low fertility, but her farming methods have improved the fertility of soil. This was achieved at a time when elsewhere complains of nutrient depletion of soil are common. Prabhavati has also trained other women in organic farming practices, something she has gained knowledge about after nearly 13 years of such farming.

The pattern of successful organic farming followed by Ramrati in Sarpathan village (Compereganj block) is somewhat similar. Using her one-acre farm in a very careful way, Ramrati and her husband Rambahal are able to provide nutritious, wholesome food to their 12-member family throughout the year, and in addition earn a monthly average income of Rs. 3000.

Ramrati, like Prabhavati, clearly plays a leadership role in the farm. She also uses innovative ways for getting her banana (and other fruit) crop market-ready so that the use of harmful chemicals can be avoided. In recent years, Ramrati has emerged as a much-in-demand master-trainer of sustainable mixed farming.

Similarly, Dhaneshwari and Sonpati of Avadhpur village, Shanti Devi of Dudhai village as well as other women farmers of this area have rich experiences of low-cot, environment-friendly highly diverse and productive farming. What is common to all these women is that they were all contacted some years back by Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG).

They attribute their exposure to alternative farming practices and their subsequent success largely to the guidance they received from the organization. But as the director of GEAG, Shiraj Wazih says, “We just provided some training, ultimately it is their own dedication, hard work, earthy wisdom and on-the-work innovativeness which gave these good results.”


One response to “Earthy Wisdom – Women organic farmers of eastern UP show the way”

  1. Laura Wodens Avatar
    Laura Wodens

    I learned that this Tulsi herb is also called the “Queen of Herbs” because of it’s antioxidant capacity which is beneficial for our body. There’s a lot more I found out at this video from mercola tulsi articles. What can you say about it?

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