Shripati Devi Leads The Way

Shripati Devi Leads The Way

Sitamarhi’s Shripati Devi is a woman farmer who has been creating new milestones in vegetable cultivation with the support of Oxfam India-HDFC project in Bihar. The 52-year-old lives with her 60-year-old husband Karam Dev Mahto. Her three children are married and do not live with the couple. While Mahto is a daily wage earner, Shripati, a landless farmer, leased 16 kathas of land at an annual rent of Rs 12000 for farming to support the family.

During the pandemic and the lockdowns, Shripati and her husband faced financial difficulties, when they were unable to find work. This hampered Shripati’s agricultural work as well since she was unable to pay the rent on leased land and this adversely affected her livelihood.

In 2021, Oxfam India started Project Utthan in Sitamarhi. It was during one of the village development committee meetings which Shripati attended that she explained her problems. She was supported with high yielding variety seeds, vermicomposting, IPM material and training to improve vegetable cultivation.

“The training helped me immensely. I had a very good pea production on 4 kathas of my land and since I had grown it organically, I was able to get a good price for it. I sold the produce at about Rs30-40 per kg and the profit was almost 40% higher than what the others received for the same product,” says Shripati.

The training helped her polish her farming skills as well. “I began maintaining row-to-row and plant-to-plant distance when planting the crops, using organic manure and creepers farming using the Alan method (a structure made of bamboo and rope and this is a practice to grow creeper vegetables using high rise structures to get optimal production and productivity. It allows better farm management also like weeding, irrigation, fertiliser application etc.). This has reduced the cost of cultivation and increased production as well as profit. I was able to earn a profit of Rs 13000 in pea farming alone during the last Rabi season,” said Shripati. What she did not sell, she dried peas and preserved then for consumption during the lean period.

The success in 2021 has encouraged Shripati Devi to continue with vegetable farming in her own. She is now cultivating a diverse range of vegetables like okra, bottle gourd and sponge gourd using all the new techniques she learnt during training. She is confident and very enthusiastic about learning new agricultural practices; she has been a role model for several others in the village as well.

She has played a crucial role in bringing more women farmers in Project Utthan. As part of the project we are developing Farm Field School and it was decided to develop her field has an FFS, a sort of a field to experiment with new techniques and consequently adopt them.

“The training I received from this Oxfam India and HDFC Bank project has been very useful. It has helped me improve my productivity and raised income by growing vegetables and other crops in the right way. More and more women farmers should get trained in farming practices,” she sums up thanking Project Utthan.

Oxfam India-HDFC project—UTTHAN—has been working in 15 villages in Sitamarhi since March 2021. HDFC’s CSR initiative Parivartan aims to ‘Create Sustainable Communities’ by enhancing sustainable livelihood options and improving access to essential services, especially of women and girls, from the most marginalised and vulnerable communities.

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