Success Story – Madhyam Foundation

The benefits of cooperation and sharing knowledge

The 39 year old Aparna Patel and her family from the village of Temri in the Golamunda Block of Kalahandi District largely depend on the vegetable cultivation on their half acre of land. Before joining the project ‘Promoting Livelihood Security through Vegetable Growers’ Cooperatives in three Districts of Orissa’, which is supported by AWO International and implemented by Madhyam Foundation and its various local partner organisations, Aparna and her husband had been growing vegetables with only limited know-how based on traditional methods. Four years ago, she became a member of a local Self-Help-Group (SHG) and got some credit to invest in her vegetable cultivation. Afterwards, there was an increase in the productivity.

However, since the last one and half years, her situation has substantially improved after joining the cooperative ‘Kushaleswari Prathamika Pariba Utpadanakari Samabaya Ltd.’, which was promoted by Madhyam Foundation’s local implementing partner Lok Yojana. Aparna became one of the coopertaive’s promoters and due to her active engagement she soon became one of the Directors of the cooperative’s board. As a member of the SHG and the cooperative, she participated in several trainings on vegetable crop planning, financial literacy, preparation of organic manure/bio-fertiliser (Handi Khata, Jeeva Mruta) etc. With the proper knowledge of crop planning she applied her newly acquired know-how in intercultural processes and cultivated a wide range of vegetables such as radish, cauliflower, okra, chilly, bitter and ridge gourd, cucumber, onion etc. She increasingly also used organic methods making only a small expenditure of INR 6.000  towards purchasing seeds, labour charges in weeding, transplanting etc.

As a result, her vegetable cultivation yielded much better productivity levels. She now also could sell her produce at the cooperative’s sales centre as well as at the nearby local market. On average, she now earns INR 2.700 per week from selling vegetables in the peak season and her monthly selling fetches up to INR 10,000. Aparna hesitantly reveals that during the last five months her earning was INR 27.000 with a net profit margin of INR 18.000 from her vegetable sales only. Her positive experience of applying organic manure in her vegetable cultivation also had an impact on other vegetable growers. Aparna is now able to calculate the loss & profit of her vegetable cultivation. And her increased income eased the repayment of loans, substantially contributed to the family’s monthly savings thus ensuring a good health provision and enough money for the household consumptions, house repairing, purchasing of assets etc. She is now planning to grow vegetables round the year by means of appropriate crop planning.

‘Vegetable cultivation’ - a way to provide sustainable livelihood

The 33-years old Kamini Patel belongs to a poor family of Saralaji village in the Kalahandi District of Southern Orissa (Medinipur ‘gram panchayat’/local government). She has 3 children. While her husband, Tapimani Patel, makes a living as a daily wage laborer, she worked on her small patch of land. She grew seasonal vegetables using traditional methods of cultivation. The produce garnered from this kind of cultivation and the income thus generated was not enough to meet the family’s needs.

During the project intervention by the ‘Development Agency for Poor and Tribal Awakening’ (DAPTA), one of Madhyam Foundation’s local implementing part ner organizations in the AWO International supported project ‘Promotion of livelihood security through vegetable growers’ cooperatives’, Kamini came into contact with the idea of using systematic crop planning for vegetable cultivation. She attended various trainings such as crop planning, financial literacy, promotion and management of cooperatives and organic farming and started to apply what she had learnt in these trainings in her vegetable cultivation. In addition to cultivating her own land, she leased another acre of land and soon generated far better returns. She was also elected vice president of the local vegetable growers’ cooperative ‘Mahalaxmi Prathamik Pariba Utpadankari Samabaya Ltd.’ which had been created and promoted by the project. One of the skills she acquired from the trainings was a proper understanding of the ‘Low input sustainable agriculture’ (LEISA)-techniques. Previously, she had invested a lot in chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Likewise, her field was not cultivated during lean periods due to a lack of proper crop planning and Kamini had no idea about her loss and profit.

Now, she has overcome all these shortcomings. She is able to track all expenditure and income from her vegetable cultivation and to reduce her investment in cultivation inputs by using organic manure and pesticides. Kamini now has a regular income from her vegetable cultivation. Apart from that, her involvement in the cooperative has boosted her morale and confidence and she says that she is now much better prepared to face adverse situations like financial scarcity. Marketing her produce is no longer a problem, since the cooperative has opened its own vegetable sales counter as well as a storage- cum-grading centre. Last but not least, the installation of a bore well in Saralaji through the project has helped her to afford crucial irrigation. Kamini had her vegetable fields soil tested by the project staff of DAPTA and – knowing the PH and NPK levels – is now able to use that information to increase her vegetable production and to apply suitable organic manure. She also received INR 2.000 as a loan from the cooperative to improve her vegetable cultivation. On her own initiative she did a cost-benefit analysis of her vegetable farming which shows that by investing INR 1.900, she is able to gain a net profit of INR 15.316 in five months from her 5 acres of land. Her average monthly income has increased to INR 3.063 and she is keen to continue and improve her vegetable cultivation as a member of the cooperative.

 

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Aparna Patel
Kamini Patel