Baide Kirsani's Exemplary Journey

Baide Kirsani's Exemplary Journey

Baide Kirsani is a 30-year-old woman who lives in Lunguri village (in Odisha) with her husband Pratap Jani and their three daughters. They own land that is a little more than one acre. They grow paddy on the lower part of their land and in the upper section – they grow millets, ginger and vegetables that take a short amount of time to cultivate. They also work as daily wage workers in various places to make their money. Due to a high-risk factor and low returns – they never expanded their agricultural activities. That is until Baide seized an opportunity to turn things around.

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Lunguri is a village situated between a small town called Semiliguda and Damanjodi – the alumina refinery for NALCO. The village inhabitants are mostly from the Scheduled Tribe community. Before NALCO was established the main occupation of the village was rainfed agriculture, mainly paddy and various millets as crops for food security and Niger (a native oilseed), which is a cash and preparatory crop. After growing ginger commercially began in the nineties, the village has adopted rainfed ginger cultivation. Vegetable cultivation, though on a small scale, happens during the rainy season. 

About 10 years ago, Baide was instrumental in the formation of the Matrubhumi Kalanjiam Self-Help Group (SHG). She is the treasurer of the group. This SHG is a well-performing group supported by the Bank of India, Sunabeda which provides loans for agriculture, petty business, and consumption. Baide would avail of the loan facility and get good returns during the Kharif season. While she managed financially, the technical support she needed was not available.

That was until Oxfam India began its latest project. Supported by SDMC Trust and implemented through Women’s Organisation for Rural Development (WORD), the project ‘Economic Empowerment Of Poor Tribal Households Through Women-Led Vegetable Farming And Marketing’ began. The project team started the process of concept seeding and formation of a Women Farmer Producer (WFP) Group in Lunguri.

In May 2021, Baide became associated with the project and supported the formation of the WFP group which now has 76 members. The group conducts regular meetings to discuss agriculture, specifically vegetable and ginger cultivation. The project provided various thematic training sessions, onsite technical support, and input support to the group.

Along with paddy and millets, Baide also grew ginger, beans, and tomato during Kharif and Rabi season last year. She took a loan of Rs 15,000 from the group for agriculture and consumption. She invested the money and gained a net profit of about Rs 19,000. 

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In January, SBI RSETI, a training institute in Koraput, organised a 10-day training programme on vegetable cultivation in the Hataguda village of Odisha’s Koraput district. This programme had 32 participants and Baide was one of them. The participants learned about agronomic practices, organic practices for crop protection and production enhancement, irrigation technology, and the benefits of off-season vegetable cultivation. 

Baide had never grown any crop during the Zaid (summer) season. The main reason for this was the lack of confidence or fear of loss due to less agricultural information, and a reluctance to take risks since she received no motivation from within or outside the community. 

The training inspired Baide to take up off-season tomato cultivation during the Zaid season. Thanks to the money she earned during the Kharif season, she was able to invest about Rs 5500 in this new venture. In addition, she received tomato seeds worth Rs 450 as input support from the project. She used about 0.1 acres of her low land near the village pond (for irrigation) and she set up a live fence (a barrier made up of plants e.g. a hedge) to protect the crop from animals. 

As a result, Baide received a net profit of more than Rs 9000. She is very happy with the additional income. Now she looks forward to growing even more vegetables in the Kharif season such as beans, ginger, and tomato (low water intake crops) in the future.                                      

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