Women leaders in initiating organic activities
Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP)

Nochikkadu is a disaster-prone seaside village with 350 households close to Cuddalore old town. The village is surrounded by river and sea. The 2004 tsunami had severely affected their livelihoods, shelter and agricultural lands and it was severely affected by 2006 and 2010 heavy floods. People were shifting to other forms of livelihood. This is when NGO Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) promoted organic farming in the village to improve the livelihood condictions of the people. SSP is promoting ec0-friendly practices in agriculture among poor families in order to cope with the impacts of climate change. Most of the people are agricultural laborers or small farmers.

Rajeswari an inspiring lady for many communities belonged to Nochikkadu village is part of the women’s federation in Cuddalore. Like other women in the village she was earlier farming in her small piece of land which gave her a petty income. She got an opportunity to visit Allivilaham village near Sirgazhi in March 2011 throug a learning exchange organized by SSP. The federation partnered with Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems (CIKS) for training on organic farming methods. CIKS had organised training at Allivilaham village near Sirgazhi. Around 28 women participated in the training on vermin-compost making, organic cultivation, waste management and bio-compost. They have learned about various aspects and benefits of vermi-compost production during the training. In this learning, Rajeswari observed how the community in Allivilaham and Athamangalam community started organic initiatives and the villages are now considered as model village for organic methods and practices.

After her return she was determined in adopting those practices in her village and hence organized a meeting with women SHGs to share the success of organic farming and allied activities in Allivilaham village. Initially most of the SHG members were not convinced about its success but a few leaders took interest in moving the idea forward. The federation supported more women to go on study visits to the model villages for learning and motivation. The women’s federation decided to start organic agriculture as part of resilience initiatives in their village. Today they are producing vermi-compost and are selling it locally and using it for own vegetable garden whish as a good demand in neighboring villages and Cuddalore town. They are now lobbying with the local government to sell their organic products. They do not use any chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They also got advanced training from CEAD from Thavalakkuppam on making bio-pesticides. The cultivated organic vegetables are in good demand in the local market as well.

Due to Rajeswari’s skills, capacity and motivation this initiative took the path of success and she is being recognized for her efforts by the government authorities. The Block Development Officer (BDO) approached her for buying vermi-compost, and she had been able to create market for the compost and selling the produces to the government. She also sells the produces at NGO fairs and directly to farmers. Today, Rajeswari has built her capacity to such a level that she conducts training on vermi-composting and allied activities in other villages of Cudallore district. She is recognized as a leader in her community. The income level of her family has increased due to this initiative and has set an example to other women. She attends SHG and Federation meetings to promote organic farming methods. In the district today more vermi-compost units have been set up and people are moving towards cultivation of organic vegetables. Each of these units are monitored by around seven SHG members.

Now the groups want to involve more members in these activities and expand the work to increase the production and income as the demand is high. Rajeswari and some of the women leaders are exploring new avenues for using organic waste. They are planning a visit to Panrutti village to learn about flower cultivation which has a huge demand in the market.

- Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), 2012




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