Sunday, May 27, 2012

Galku Devi!
...breaking rules and empowering farming!

Age: 52 years
…a widow
…a farmer
…a survivor
…a brave lady to combat life situation and move a ahead with her exceptional work in agriculture

…Flash Back
At the age of 12-13 years Galku devi got married to a farmer of Napoli village and. After marriage she has started contributing to her husband in his agriculture work along with doing other household work.  In Although

“I was just looking for a way to survive and feed my family and eventually found one against society”, says 52 years old Galku Devi from Nepoli village in Mavashiya Panchyat, Shri Nagar block Ajmer.

Galku Devi belongs to a mali ( OBC) community and is extremely poor with a very small landholding of 2 acre. Her husband who passed away some 15 years back had migrated earlier to Jaipur to work as on daily wages..

Galku Devi’s husband used to send a small amount back home which was insufficient to feed the family. “It was not a matter of few days or weeks. I had to take care of my family. So I started growing vegetables just enough for consumption on the farm land”, says Galku devi. She started ploughing her land in early morning so no one can notice as women of the village were strictly prohibited from using the plough. It was believed that in such a case God gets angry leading to draught and starvation. 

How situation has changed?
“In the village where women didn’t consider themselves as farmers, Galku Devi was a small hope. With the support from LIFE ( Livelihood Initiation For Empowerment) project We tried to remove her prejudice and encouraged her to go for organic cultivation on her small patch of land and have supported her with demonstration of wheat seeds and organic inputs; initially she has used mix of organic and synthetic inputs and able to get 30% of increase in wheat production per bigha ( from 500 kgs to 650 kgs) and plough the field during day time”, says Manish, a coordinator of LIFE Project , RCDSSS-Ajmer.

The news that she cultivates her field and is able to  have better production has pread in the entire village, although many of the villages have not considered it as so important as they felt farming is only the job of “men”, but later with her various innovations in the farming in terms of having  multiple, mixed cropping, system of having kitchen garden along with the farm field for vegetables and production and usage of organic inputs.

Today Galku Devi is the motivation factor for many women not only in the napoli village, but for the other villages near by  villages also. Around 15-20 other women of the napoli village plough their land on their own. These women are aware of their rights as farmers and take all the decisions related to their agricultural land. Apart from growing vegetables for the household consumption, Galku Devi is now using shared land to cultivate grains and generate revenue. She also teaches other women to plough their fields and is proud of the difference it is making in their lives. 15 years back when Galku Devi’s husband passed away she collected her all energy to combat against the social norms of farming and with LIFE project she has learn the techniques of modern farming for better crop production. She has also shown her interest for organic certification and with LIFE project we would supporting such women farmers for the whole process of certification.

With the passage of time and better understanding of Galku Devi’s knowledge on agriculture and from last two years continious support from the LIFE project project in terms of generating awareness amongst Today she is one of the active members of the Farmers Club of Nepoli and many times she leads the entire meeting process, members of the farmers club have now decided that now Galku devi is in the position to head the farmers club!

She has become a role model for the other women, who come to her with their problems.

Support from LIFE Project!

LIFE (Livelihood Initiation for Empowerment) project has been initiated in Jan 2010 with the concept of securing the sustainable livelihood options for the deprived targeted community of the Banswara and Ajmer districts of Rajasthan.  The project is being implemented by SJVS Banswara and Disha-RCDSSS Ajmer in 20 project villages of the concerned districts (10 villages in each district). LIFE project also supports for the interests and rights of women farmers. One of the strategy of the LIFE project aims at creating an environment that recognizes women as farmers and inititiatve has been started with supporting women farmers through demonstration plots, involving them in training on agriculture and allied activities and reserving 33% women membership in Farmers club.  With LIFE project till now we are able to recognize 350 women farmers in 20 project villages.


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