The COVID-19 induced lockdown impacted the economy as several businesses and services were hit across India. This included farmers too whose supply chains came to a halt, leaving them with tonnes of produce they could not sell.
However, these women from Telangana’s Sangareddy district did not come under such pressure. Instead, they were able to produce more than their usual.
But, how did they do it? The credit goes to their sheer resilience and commitment to sustainable farming practices that they’ve been following for close to 40 years.
These women are a part of Deccan Development Society (DDS), which promotes sustainable and community-led organic farming. With about 5000 women under its umbrella, this initiative aims to bring changes in people’s lives as well in the lifestyle of women farmers. The aim is to enable them to have good health and self-sufficiency, as well as empower them through education and life skills training.
In order to sustain their families, these women farmers initially concentrated on producing indigenous crops with higher nutritional value over commercial value.
During lockdown, these women went from village to village to distribute jowar flour, chilli powder, tamarind, pulses and jaggery. Additionally, they made ragi malt and distributed the supplies among pregnant women as well as Anganwadi teachers.
This cycle of ingineous production targeting the basic needs of local communities has reduced their dependency on the market for food security.
Interestingly, these sustainable crops are also said to have the ability to withstand floods. This is because, as against the conventional methods of farming that uses pesticides where the soil retains less water, sustainable farming allows for more water retention.
In sustainable farming, sowing a wider variety of crops limits risks of damage. This means that even if some crops are damaged, they can depend on the remaining crops.
(Edited by Sanhati Banerjee)