More women finding passion as farmers in Odisha !

Besides information, digital service RFIS also provides hand holding support to women on livestock management, health and weather

Meet 30-year-old Namita Pal of Anji gram panchayat under Bahanaga block of Balasore district who has grown a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables in her backyard.

“At a time when it is impossible to get fresh and safe vegetables and fruits in the local market as everything you get there are chemical-laced, I get them at my backyard. Since childhood, I have a penchant for agriculture and it is my childhood hobby which keeps me engaged in farming.”

My mother used to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, and greens in our backyard. Bunking my studies, I used to assist her with great interest. I learned the basics of cultivation from her. But, often, we used to suffer loss due to pest attack and diseases.

I remember the days when I and my mother used to sit and discuss for hours analysing the reasons behind pest attack and disease infestation on our crops despite taking all possible care to get rid of them.”

“I got married to an engineer and as he stays away from home most often, I get a lot of time and started farming on my backyard. But the same thing repeated – despite taking all possible measures to keep the crops healthy, I failed. However, the things changed after I got a call from the RFIS a year ago when the caller advised me on disease control methods in the vegetable crop. I got a lot of information and guidance on different crops, the basics of cultivation and disease control methods,” said Namita.

Even as women are gravitating to kitchen gardens to meet the daily vegetable and fruit needs of their families and to keep the fertiliser and pesticide-laced stuff at bay, digital services like Reliance Foundation Information Service (RFIS) comes handy for the enthusiasts of both rural and urban pockets.

Namita further added, “The knowledge on time and method of applying fertilisers and pesticides and natural fertilisers and manures, about which, I was completely unaware of earlier, helped me immensely. While vegetables like beans, lady’s finger, cucumbers, and ridge gourd are affected by diseases like Cercospora leaf spots, fusarium wilt, powdery mildew, bacterial wilt, and belly rot, crops like eggplants and tomatoes also are affected by bacterial wilt, leaf spot and damping off. The coconut trees also suffer from bud rot, leaf rot, and root wilt diseases.”

After she followed the cultivation and disease control practices as suggested by the RFIS experts, she has been getting bumper crops – at least five times more than what she used to get earlier. After keeping them for use of her three-member family, she distributes it among her neighbours and they are so happy to get fresh and uncontaminated fruits and vegetables.

Farming, she said, engages all her senses. I have found my passion and feel very fortunate. And now, after RFIS service came handy, more and more women of my neighbourhood are inspired and finding their passion in developing kitchen gardens to cater to the needs of their families as it does not require intensive labour, a great deal of time or vast swathes of land. It has also reflected greater participation by of women in small-scale and organic farming,” she added.

The RFIS not only provides support to the villagers in developing kitchen garden, but it also provides handholding support to them on livestock management, health, and weather. For minor ailments like worms, hair fall, scabies and cracks in feet, the villagers depend on the RFIS service and get advice on homeopathy and Ayurvedic medicines.

Also read: Experts Emphasise On Healthy Food Practices For Good Health

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