Mrs. Rahkima Pradhan of Burupati village in Kandhamal district, Odisha, India belongs to a poor family from a Scheduled Caste community. Her family’s income is dependent on agricultural and labor work. The family also engages in collecting non-timber forest products from the nearby forest.
Mrs. Pradhan has actively participated in all of the trainings given in her community by CARE Pathways’ implementing partner PRDATA. The CARE Pathways initiative seeks to increase Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe female farmers’ productivity and empowerment in more equitable agricultural systems. The program also recognizes the importance of male involvement in agriculture. The Pathways program focuses heavily on extension activities aimed at enhancing farmers’ decision-making skills. Messages around improved agricultural practices are spaced out over four stages in order not to inundate farmers with too much information at one time.
Mrs. Pradhan was so convinced about the practices shared by her local community extension worker that she not only began adopting these new practices herself, but also convinced her husband to start taking action as well. Now both husband and wife have decided to adopt improved practices on a small patch of land to test the new ideas they have been presented with.
In this community, male farmers used to be engaged almost exclusively in plowing the land—spending the rest of their time in leisure and playing cards while their wives took on a number of agricultural and household chores. Now, male farmers have joined together with their wives to test the soul, conduct deep ploughing, use dhanicha cultivation (green manuring), treat seeds, use high yield variety seeds, and follow the pest management practices recommended for paddy crops. Despite some negative effects from Phailin Cyclone in 2013, these farmers have increased crop yield by 16% over the previous year.
These changes have inspired high hopes among men and women and encouraged commitment to the improved agricultural practices, with farmers planning to use these new practices in the upcoming Kharif season in order to increase crop yields and household income. There is a strong feeling that, if husbands and wives support one another, they can overcome any hurdle.
Contributed by: Tapas Das