As one of the key activities undertaken by our watershed projects to improve household nutrition in rural Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, India, encouraging women farmers to start small vegetable gardens in their backyards has been very successful. These ‘nutri-gardens’ also help augment household incomes, especially during times of job losses and restricted mobility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The following are some heartening stories told by enterprising women beneficiaries of two joint projects of ICRISAT with the Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (RECL), India, and AB InBev respectively.
Success stories from RECL-ICRISAT project
Nutri-garden kit comprising vegetable seeds, mini-sprayer, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. being given to women farmers
(All Anantapur photos by Samatha and ICRISAT)
“With the support of this project, I got vegetable seed, sprayer and other inputs, with which I established a small nutri-garden near my home. With no extra effort, and using my kitchen waste water, I have obtained good yield of bitter gourd, ridge gourd and leafy vegetables like ‘palak’ (spinach) and ‘gongura’. For several weeks now, we have been having fresh, home-grown vegetables and will continue this practice rather than going for long distances to purchase from shops.” Ms K Vanaja, Kondampalli village, Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.
“My family is very happy with this attempt of mine to set up a vegetable garden in our home backyard. With advice from the project staff, I used vermicompost before sowing the seeds. I could clearly see the improvement in yield and quality of vegetables, especially bitter gourd, brinjal and ridge gourd. I have sold nearly 30 kg ridge guard and 14 kg bitter gourd in the village so far and got good profits. Apart from that, my neighbors also got inspired by me and now they have also started growing vegetables in their home premises.” Ms K Gayathramma in Settipalli village, Anantapur.
“The price of vegetables has gone up very high, especially during the COVID-19 times. We could not get work during those hard times and faced financial crisis. That was when I received good support from the project. I could grow fresh leafy vegetables and guards at my home, and thus also supported my family and neighbors.”
Ms M Nagamma in Cherlopalli village, Anantapur.
“Earlier I used to buy vegetables from the shop and spent money on that. Then I was supported with inputs provided under RECL-ICRISAT watershed project and was guided to establish a small vegetable garden near my home. Now I am getting good quality vegetables like ‘palak’, ridge gourd and ‘bhindi’ (okra) from my own nutri-garden. I am using these vegetables for household consumption and saving around Rs 40 per day and selling the extra produce.”
Ms Laxmi in Rajapeta village, Wanaparthy. (All Wanaparthy photos by BISLD and ICRISAT)
“I was supported with inputs for nutri-gardens under the project which helped me establish a garden in which I now produce quality vegetables. I am providing nutritious food to my family, reduced daily expenditure on vegetables and also selling the extra produce for extra income.”
Ms Chandrakala in her nutri-garden in Peddagudem village, Wanaparthy.
“I own three cows and five buffaloes. Every year I would buy dry fodder, which is expensive, from the neighboring farms. After the intervention of new fodder grass through the project, I have got it at a very low price. I have harvested the grass multiple times, and observe quick growth after each cutting. Milk quantity and quality from my cattle has improved with this fodder and now I don’t need to purchase any grass from outside.”
Fodder Sorghum (CSH24MF) grown by Ms A Lakshmi Devi in Gonipeta village, Anantapur.
“It is easy for me to feed my cattle in my home premises as there are very few pasture lands available during the cropping season. Along with dried straw, I can feed them green fodder which has resulted in increase of milk yield by 1 liter per day. The fat content reading of the milk is also higher and I’m making up to ₹ 35 per liter compared to ₹ 30 per liter earlier.”
Fodder Sorghum (CSH24MF) grown by Ms B Kavitha in Kondampalli village, Anantapur.
“I got subsidized seeds and guidance about growing fodder sorghum through the project. This crop is giving a good yield and has improved green fodder availability. Alongside this, I am also feeding groundnut straw to my sheep. With this feed regime, the sheep’s weight gain is faster than earlier feeding system.”
Ms A Venkatamma, who grows fodder sorghum (CSH24MF) at Peddagudem, Wanaparthy.
“From the project I received ICGV 91114 groundnut variety and obtained 110 kg per acre additional pod yield compared to the neighboring farms. Apart from this, after drying, I am using crop straw as animal feed for sheep/goat which has enhanced the body weight of our livestock.”
Ms K Devi Bai in Settipalli village, Anantapur, who uses groundnut (ICGV 91114) straw as fodder for her sheep/goat.
“Through the watershed project, I was given with a ram lamb worth ₹ 3,000. I reared the lamb for about 6 months and sold it for ₹ 15,000. With this money I repaid the amount to the SHG (self-help group) and with the ₹ 12,000 profit, I purchased four more lambs and took up this activity on a bigger level. Now I and my family are living well. I could use the saved money for various family needs. Thanks to this project for bringing a change in our lives.”
Ms T Lakshmi Narasamma, Gonipeta village, Anantapur.
“I started this activity with two lambs that the project gave me in 2017-18. Now I am rearing 10 rams, some were sold for meat purpose and generated good income. With the saved money, I was able to pay electricity bills, purchase vegetables and groceries for our home needs.”
Ms P Bharatamma, Kondampally village, Anantapur.
“The project supported me with ₹ 4,000 to start a livestock-based livelihood. I purchased three small ram lambs, reared them and sold them at nine months age for ₹ 18,000. After repaying my loan, I still made a net profit of ₹ 14,000, with which I bought five ram lambs and, in this way, started this activity as my livelihood. I’m earning a good amount this way.”
Ms Bekkem Shantamma, who was part of the livestock-based livelihood interventions at Rajapeta village, Wanaparthy with her ram lambs.
“The watershed project team advised me to add gypsum, zinc sulphate and borax to groundnut crop and also provided highly subsidized inputs. With application of these fertilizers, the effect was clearly visible in the crop. It was reflected in around 100 kg more pod yield and quality in micronutrient applied plot. I am very happy with this! I’m now aware about reducing costs of other inputs such as urea and DAP (Diammonium Phosphate).”
Ms Naramma, of Peddagudem Village, Wanaparthy, who enhanced her groundnut crop by applying secondary and micronutrients.
Success stories from AB InBev-ICRISAT project
Ms Rathnavva is a 60-year-old woman farmer in Venkatakistapur village of Sangareddy district in Telangana state. She volunteered to establish a nutri-garden in her backyard, and so she was provided with inputs and other technical knowhow by the project staff. She planted vegetables such as okra in around 50 square meter area. During rainy season, she harvested around 30 kg of vegetables. She is very happy that she has helped enhance the nutritional status of her family, especially during the COVID pandemic. Ms Rathnavva feels that promoting nutri-gardens is a good practice that assists women farmers in getting incomes, while also effectively contributing to household nutrition.
Ms Sathyamma of Venkatakistapur village: “With the help of vegetable seeds and guidance provided by project team, I established a small nutri-garden with brinjal and okra in around 10 square meters. This has enabled me to not buy vegetables from the market for more than five weeks and thereby save that cost. I am happy to have such support and will seek it in future also.”
Ms Suvarnamma of Gopularam village: “Because of the Coronavirus, there was fear in visiting markets to buy vegetables, but thanks to my nutri-garden, which I started with help from the project, we now have access to fresh vegetables, while keeping the family members safely at home.”
Ms Sugunamma of Gopularam village: “I feel happy that I harvest around 1 kg of brinjal and 0.5 kg of okra every three days. I and my family are happy to have access to pesticide-free vegetables.”