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.