Promising traditional practices and local seeds

Augustina Khalko is a 35 years old smallholder farmer living in the village of Tikariya in Madhya Pradesh. She is a mother of four children. Before SAFBIN she was struggling to feed her family – they were only food secure for 8 months in a year. The land is not easy to cultivate since it was uneven and the soil is sandy and water is scarce. Since her family couldn’t produce enough grains, she and her husband went for both wage as well as agricultural labour for 4 to 5 months in a year in order to earn the required money to purchase food grains at the market. Since Augustina joined the Smallholder Farmer Collective (SHFC) of her village, she attended the meetings and trainings regularly. She learnt about organic farming, cropping patterns, seasonal plants and trees, as well as traditional organic manure production such as “Matka Khad”. She increased the cultivation area for vegetables through a nutritional kitchen garden. Ever since she joined the SHFC her overall yield significantly increased and she is even able to sell vegetable surpluses at the market. She has not experienced pest attacks and diseases during the trial phase of SAFBIN I. She now uses additionally to “bhado chinga” seeds, which she has already used before (which require less water in undulating land) also the local paddy varieties called “luchai” and “safri” – which are suited better for deeper land. She now needs less water and seeds and her land has been levelled for proper agricultural use. It is no longer necessary to migrate to gain extra money – neither for her nor for her husband. On her farm, she cultivates paddy, kodo, maize, rai and vegetables. For her daily work she uses a variety of traditional practices such as “Dhenki”, an old-style husk lever, and “Tedha”, a traditional water lifting device. These agricultural improvements are outcomes of trials of the first phase, which she now intends to further improve in this second phase. In her community she has become a leader and role model farmer – she is taking a very active role in the meetings and shares her knowledge passionately, for instance in showcasing the preparation of “Matka Khad”. She also owns two quintals of local seeds of paddy which she can provide for the trials for her village.