Organic Inputs For Farming Improve Sustainability In The Long Run

Farmers at Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, find that despite increased labour, organic inputs are attractive for sustainability in the long run.

 According to the Census 2011, 263 million people were employed in the agricultural sector in our country, of which over 144 million are agricultural labourers. Agricultural labourers are generally those who either do not have land of their own, or whose land is of poor quality and hence cannot earn a remunerative income. Dumari Singh, in the Banar village of Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla district, is one such labourer who had to regularly migrate for his livelihood.

Despite owning 2.5 acres of land, prior to 2012, Dumari Singh would earn barely Rs. 1,000 a month during the Kharif (July- October) season, due to the poor quality of his soil. He would often migrate to Mandla district in MP or Raipur in Chhattisgarh or Dholpur in Rajasthan, in search of agricultural labour work, where he earned slightly more, ₹2,000 to ₹3,000 per month, during the rest of the year. When there was a lack of rainfall, he often spent the entire year working outside.

In 2012, the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) took up a watershed development project in Banar, after which Dumari Singh could grow kodokutki (inferior millets), and later in 2016, he started growing arhar (pigeon peas) and toor (split peas). He was able to earn an average of ₹3,000 per month, in Kharif and about ₹2,000 in rabi.

Despite this positive change, Dumari Singh notes that his earnings did not rise as much as he wished, mainly due to high expenditure on chemical fertilisers. Explaining the situation, he said, “I had to travel three to 10 times to nearby Babalia market i.e. 20 km away from my village in Kharif season to buy chemical fertilisers. I was able to make an income of around ₹35,000 per year, but I had to spend ₹3,000- ₹4,000 in Kharif season and ₹5,000 – ₹6,000 in Rabi season, for buying urea and other chemical fertilisers.”

In 2017, to address this issue of high dependency of farmers on chemical fertilisers, degraded soil quality and to improve the livelihoods in rainfed areas of Madhya Pradesh, the WOTR initiated eco-friendly agricultural practices. These activities were supported by the NABARD’s Watershed Development Fund (WDF) project. Training programmes were started by WOTR on organic farming and vermicomposting in 3 villages of Mandla district namely: Banar, Barbati and Gadadeori. Dumari Singh was one of the farmers who attended the training, which made him aware of organic farming.

In this context, Lalit Kumar Nirmalkar, the WDF project manager at WOTR’s MP Regional Resource Centre shares, “In Banar, we gave a demonstration which 8 of the 12 village development committee members attended. There was a common fear observed among the farmers about the reduction in yield. They all felt that nobody would compensate them when their yields reduced, after switching to organic practices. But we patiently explained to them that though their incomes may reduce a little in the beginning, their input costs would also go down and quality and productivity would improve”. With time, Lalit adds, they would start with a demonstration on small 30mx30m size plots to fight this scepticism and fear about using organic inputs. It was only after seeing the success on such a ‘demo-plot’ that Dumari Singh eventually shifted over to using organic inputs like vermicompost and dashparni ark (an organic pest and insect repellant) in 2017.

Dumari Singh expresses his appreciation at the benefit it has brought to him, saying he had never imagined that he would able to grow food on his land, which had bad soil quality. He says “Now I am able to grow paddy, kodokutki and arhar (pigeon pea), maize and til (sesame seeds) in my own plot. My input cost has also reduced a lot by using home-made manure like vermicompost. My per-year input cost of fertiliser has reduced by about 50% over a single season by using vermicompost and other organic manure. One, however, has to be prepared for a lot of additional labour and preferably have access to manure from livestock in order to consistently use organic inputs”, he concludes.

Geetanjali Prasad & Lalitkumar Nirmalkar; Banar, Madhya Pradesh

Featured Image for representative purpose only
Similar Posts

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below