Samaj Pragati Sahayog
India diaries are personal accounts, conversations, and experiences of people we have met, innovations we have seen, institutions that have improved the water and agriculture situations in villages of India.
Here are a few examples:
1. Inspiring institutions: September 2019, and I was to experience the energy of a group of women farmers in Basti, Uttar Pradesh, like never before:
Bardohli is a small village in the Basti district of Uttar Pradesh. Mamta Devi is a farmer from this village, who works with PANI sansthan as a Community Resource Person. She engages with women farmer groups such as ‘Ma Shakti’ (as shown in picture) monthly. Ma Shakti is a group of 15 women farmer groups who meet on the on the fourth day of every month to discuss the challenges and practices they are following on their farms. Mamta Devi started her discussion with a locally shot film explaining SRI planting for paddy and its benefits, as Kharif transplanting was a fortnight away. What followed was a highly energetic conversation- some women who adopted the practice before spoke about their productivity increase and diesel costs saving by virtue of lesser water required from pumps, others spoke about the increase in labour required for SRI planting. They also discussed how they can convince their husbands to adopt this practice. A group which used conventional practices four years ago had thirteen members using SRI to plant paddy. This meeting was a sheer testimony to the power and will of a group of women.
2. Inspiring people:
Meet Suganjiji (SPS)
I met Suganjiji in January 2019, and the sheer confidence with which she interacted with me spoke about her role in the community. Suganjiji is a farmer community leader in the Dewas region of Madhya Pradesh. She had to drop out of school at the age of 11 to dig wells and look after her family. She has spent her career collectivizing farmers and urging her community to grow more water efficient crops. She has promoted the division of fields, so the community used less water, and played water games in her village to teach them to make conscious choices. Today, she is on the board of a farmer producer company in Sitapuri and addresses thousands of farmers at annual district meetings. She has been the force behind motivating and convincing hundreds of farmers in her village to adopt water responsible practices and grow crops suitable to her region. Farmers like are the force behind building resilience and knowledge in their villages.