Thanks to new farming technologies that make better use of their hilly land in the mountainous tribal area in the country’s northeast, farmers like Mr. Omoilo and Mrs. Dibi who participate in FRB’s India-Patharkhmah program are harvesting more food for home consumption and income.
Mrs. Dibi is a poor farmer with two sons who farms a small plot of land her parents gave her at the time of her marriage. She has participated in the farmers club program in her village since 2009, and, after attending various trainings through the years, she is practicing several of the methods she’s learned in order to take full advantage of her farmland. She is now involved in kitchen gardening and livestock management and has dug water catchment ponds. Mrs. Dibi is using Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT), as well as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a method that often increases yields by 50% or more.
Mr. Omoilo lives and farms with his wife and five children on a small plot of land given to him by his grandparents. He joined a farmers’ club in his village in 2012, and became intrigued as he learned how his peers came to increase their yields significantly.Mrs. Dibi and Mr. Omoilo have both planted nitrogen-fixation trees and pineapples as contour lines to hold in soil and moisture on their sloping land. They’ve added a variety of fruit trees such as orange, litchi, lemon, and guava. They have also integrated pig rearing on their SALT farms to increase their income and supply of organic fertilizer for their crops.
Mr. Omoilo had been concerned that in winter it would be difficult for him to cultivate other crops besides the fruit trees, since there is no rainwater to irrigate the crops. However, like Mrs. Dibi, he dug a large pond to catch water during the monsoon period to irrigate during the dry season.
Mrs. Dibi recently completed harvesting her SRI rice paddy, continues to plant vegetables, and is preparing a place to start worm composting (vermiculture) for fertilizer. She says, “The villagers know that I am a poor farmer, and that my family has always had a lot of problems financially. But now I am growing enough rice and vegetables for my family’s consumption, and even sell some in the rural markets, so we are much better off.
”At the time of this report, Mr. Omoilo had not yet harvested the crops he’s growing in these new ways, but he is thrilled to be approaching the rice harvest soon. He says, “I never practiced new methods of cultivation because I was afraid that if they failed my family and I would not have food. But after I attended the trainings I felt motivated and confident and wanted to give everything a try. Seeing my neighbors’ results from SRI, SALT and water harvesting has convinced me it has been worth it. I know this year will be the best ever for me and my family because we will reap more from what we sow on the same amount of land as before.”
Excerpted from program reports by Cosmos Khonglah & Kohima Daring
India Patharkhmah encompasses 18 communities, 1250 households, and 6250 individuals