‘A Whole Village Going Organic'

Bhatel, a small village of 50 households, is located 5kms away from the block head quarter of M. Rampur in Kalahandi District of Odisha in India. The Madhyam Foundation has been nurturing a cooperative of women vegetable growers for enhancing their livelihood security with support of AWO International. In Bhatel the project is implemented by the Madhyam Foundation in collaboration with a local NGO partner called Mahashakti Foundation.

27 women vegetable growers of the village are members of the Basumata Vegetable Growers’ Cooperative promoted by the project. One of the main focuses of the project was to persuade the women growers to adopt organic ways of cultivation. Before the project intervention the whole village was using costly chemical manure and pesticides in its cultivation practices. Through a series of trainings and demonstrations on the preparation of organic manure and pesticides from cow dung, cow urine and leaves of specific plants, the women growers gradually adopted organic methods of cultivation. The previously substantial amount spent on chemical fertilizer and pesticides came down to almost zero, thereby increasing the growers’ profit margin. Incidences of plant disease became a thing of the past.

Word spread and the vegetables from Bhatel village became a ‘brand’ of its own at the weekly market as well as at market at the block head quarter, often fetching better returns than other vegetables. This positive change motivated all the villagers to adopt organic cultivation. Now, the village is known as the ‘organic village’ in the neighbourhood. Sarojini Gouda of Bhatel proudly shares that she is now earning INR 25,000/- (around 360 EUR) from her half acre of land by cultivating egg plants in just one cycle of cultivation. Realizing the benefits of organic manure and pesticides, the members of the cooperative have started selling HandiKhata (organic manure) and jeebamruit (organic pesticide) in neatly packed bottles to other farmers from their village as well as nearby villages.