Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh: In the present scenario not only Jhabua but the entire country is facing the problem of irregular rainfall, which is hugely affecting the condition of the farmers. Burdened by the inability to repay the loans which they have taken for buying seeds and fertilizers, the country is witnessing an increasing number of farmer suicides each passing day. In such situations, to redeem and to make the farmers self sustainable, farming costs need to be brought down by reducing the expenses on seeds and fertilizers.
Jhabua is predominantly a tribal backward area in Madhya Pradesh where majority of the villagers depend on farming for a livelihood and in this present context of irregular rainfall these farmers have to struggle hard to maintain food security for their families and to have a sustainable livelihood. All these force the farmers to migrate urban areas for a livelihood.
The IGSSS Jhabua unit, under the SOUL programme has time and again conducted sessions with the community members for the development of sustainable livelihood solutions for them. Initiatives have been taken for assembling farmers into Farmers’ Club and Seed Society and working towards promoting traditional knowledge and conserving traditional seeds to bring down farming expenses for sustainable farming. It has also been observed that farmers have shifted to growing cash crops for better returns because of which traditional farming practices have been dwindling. Prolonged use of chemical fertilizers has resulted in lowering soil fertility and now with the absence of irrigation facilities accompanied with irregular rainfalls, it has become a struggle to cultivate crops even for personal consumption.
Through the promotion of traditional seeds, the Seed Society members were successful in growing maize, pulses, etc the previous year. But, during their discussion with the elders of the community, the Seed Society realized that these were not adequate. After listening to the experiences shared by the elderly members of the community, it was discovered that in the past, minor millets were used for eating as they were a nutritious diet. It was also discovered that cultivating minor millets did not require the use of any chemical fertilizer or pesticide and they required less amount of water, which could sustain even during irregular rainfall. Pondering on all these experiences that were shared, the Seed Society members decided to include minor millets in their collection of traditional seeds and a 50 member team started the cultivation of different types of millets and pulses. The Jhabua unit has been inspired to start their own initiatives in the revival of traditional seeds and a group of 72 women from 15 other villages of Jhabua district came together, with the sole objective of maintaining food security for their families and at the same time promoting climate resilient farming.
Reported By: Harish Tiwari, Project Coordinator, Jhabua