An inspiring journey of Farm women under Project PRERANA
Prerna: Empower Women Farmers as Changemakers in Agriculture is a unique initiative, jointly implemented by Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) CSR division and BAIF Institute of Sustainable Livelihoods and Development ( BISLD). The initiative aims at empowering farm women by enhancing their access to new knowledge, skills, technologies, schemes and services in various farming, entrepreneurship, and leadership areas like improved agricultural practices, Farm diversification, reducing drudgery through suitable farm mechanization, ensuring digital financial literacy, functional literacy and by giving opportunities to participate in training and exposures. Since 2018, the initiative has reached up to 5000 farm women from five states Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.
In Jawhar taluka of Palghar district, Maharashtra, Prerna has been operational since July 2020. The project activities are introduced in seven villages having a predominantly tribal population. The work is ongoing with around 850 Champion Women Farmers. The major interventions include floriculture with 245 participants, commercial cultivation of moisture-loving crops with about 500 participants, and nutrition kitchen garden with 100 odd participants. Women are trained in Producing organic inputs like Jeevamrut, and Dashaparni extract for reduced dependency on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Over fifteen varieties of crops are grown in nutrition gardens, including creepers, pulses, seasonal and perennial fruits, and vegetables. The seeds and saplings for the promotion of kitchen garden activity are provided by the women’s SHG Kalsubai Parisar Biyanee Savardhan Samiti, another women-led enterprise.
These Champion Women Farmers are not confined simply to the production of vegetables and flowers alone. Groups of these Champion Women farmers have now ventured out to market the product through M&M Farm Division’s Kandivali Plant in Mumbai. The plant is located 120 km away from these villages. The group members have fixed up rotations to sell farm-fresh vegetables, high-demand flowers like marigold and jasmine, and other delicacies like sweets made of finger millet. The first event was launched on October 14th, 2021 to mark the occasion of International Day of Rural Women (celebrated as “Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas” in India), and has since been carried out every fortnight. Women have taken complete charge and are managing the activity of production, aggregation, transportation, and selling quite well. This is a trailblazing effort to link rural tribal producers with urban consumers directly. The sustained enthusiastic participation of women has also resulted in improved leadership skills, growing confidence, cooperative action, and their enhanced capability to manage commercial
Case Study: Sarita Santosh Gaikar
Sarita Santosh Gaikar lives with her family of four in the village of Guhir, Wada, and Palghar. She has been educated up to the 9th standard. The family owns 1.5 acres of land, of which paddy is grown on 0.5 acres with rain-fed irrigation. Sarita’s family would earn around Rs 10000-12000 per annum from paddy cultivation.
In 2021, Sarita Tai became a Champion Woman Farmer under Prerna Initiative. In this short period of time, she has acquainted knowledge, skills for improved agricultural practices, appropriate farm technology, organic farming practices, Intercropping of Paddy with Guava, Magnolia Champaca (Champa), Watermelon, Pepper, Adoption of sustainable mulching techniques
As a result of the above, the Following are the achievements :
- Time taken for transplantation of rice reduced from 2.5 days to 2 hours
- Profit from Sale of Green Chilli over Rs 20000
- Profit from Sale of Watermelon over Rs 15000
- Paddy: savings from labor costs over Rs 4500
The added income has been utilized by Sarita Tai for the repair of their house. She has recently bought a tractor. With her strong sense of community development, she is now working as a Community Resource Person on the same project.