|Name : Anjamma
Village : Gangwar
Mandal : Nyalkal
Activity : Seed self sufficiency
"We had no land, and always believed in our 'kalvar' and ' kodawali' (Sickle) . We had been going to 'Kapus' (Upper caste) for day labour, since we had no land of ours to till. Even with so much hard work, we lived in a hut. Life went on that way. My husband and I worked very hard and bought 2 acres of 'garabu bhoomi' (fallow land), cleared it and ploughed it. We grew gaddi noovulu (Niger), samalu (Little millet), sajjalu (Pearl millet), pacha jonna (Sorghum variety), togari (Redgram), manchi noovulu (Sesame), korra (Foxtail millet), taidalu (Finger millet), and in spite of all the difficulties, we also went for day labour. While harvesting, we would select some good seed, grain by grain, and keep it for ourselves. And we fertilised the land with FYM.
Slowly I bought a bullock, a cow, a goat, a buffalo and a cart. I used the one bullock of ours and one of my brother's, and ploughed the land. With the grace of God and good rain, our hard work paid off, and we harvested food for ourselves, feed for our animals, and got dung for the land. It is only because of our hard labour the kindness of mother earth and the 'pashooulu' (Cattle) that we could achieve all this. Nothing else improved our life. Later we bought 2 acres of garubu land, which was full of stones, and fertilised it with FYM. Initially, we grew gaddi noovulu (Niger), but later samalu (Little millet), and as the land improved, we grew jonna (Sorghum) also.
As of today, we grow paccha gondu jonna (Sorghum), paccha toka jonna, gondu sajja (Pearl Millet), poduva sajja, toggarlu (Redgram), yerra bebberlu (Cowpea), tella bebberlu, pedda bebberlu, Anamulu (Field bean), korra (Foxtail millet), taidalu (Finger millet), tella togurlu, yerra korra, tella korra, nalla korra, manchu korra, mudda taidalu, ecchu taidalu, yerra pundi (Hibiscus), tella pundi, teega pesurlu (Greengram), manchi noovulu (Sesame), nala togarlu, yerra togarlu, vaama (Fenugreek), dhanya (Coriander), kotta godumuloo (Wheat), mullu godumuloo, seri senega (Lentil), pulli chinta, lanka papu (Lathyrus), tella kusuma(Safflower), agisa (Linseed), satyam sai jonna (Sorghum), rabi yerra jonna, tella jonna, palala jonna, and toka jonna." Anjamma, thus, has mastered the skill of choosing the right seed during harvesting, and to treasure it for future use. She now has an ample store of these seeds, which she supplies to the Sangham members. Apart from this, she advises Sangham members. She says that "her husband knows the land, i.e. when to plough, when to roppudu, when to yedda pettali; and she knows which seed to sow, vitnam yerrudu, yepaku easi kottatum, gampa alkatum, yendapettaum, budida poyatum, buraba easi mettatam (cultivation & storage methods).
Today I am confident and ask the members to save the seed and to give it to others--if you give it to others they will also have seed, and so there is much scope for exchange. This exchange will help all the villages, Meta (fodder) and tindi (food) in the available land. Bhoomi manchiga aitadi (improves the soil fertility), and we do not have to go to anybody asking for it. Mana chenu, mana meta, mana kuragayalu mana akukuraku mandi mana degari untadi (we will have our food, our vegetables, our greens from our own land).
The Sangham has helped bring about these operations, and today we are able to bring back the lost seeds. What we have is being disseminated, and we are able to exchange seeds, sell excess seeds, and use the money for future purchases of seed material.
Finally, what I have to say is that it's because of our land and our
hard work that this was possible. And all this was made possible by
Name : Gangwar Manemma
Gangwar Manemma is a 70 year- old robust and vibrant woman, and the first one to join the Sangham as a member. She too used to go to work on others' land. Her husband died when her children were small. She had three acres of land, but it was Erra Bhoomi (red soil), and it was almost like a wasteland. But Manemma is a smart woman. She collected traditional seeds from all the places she went to work on, picked up quite an expertise in permaculture cultivation, drew strength from the Sangham, and changed the very face of her land. She says " By God's grace, and Sangham's help, we have brought fertility to our soil. We could raise 30 varieties of crops-Thogarlu (Redgram) - Eerra (Red), Nalla (Black), Aasha, Nadipi, Pundlu (Hibiscus) - Nalla (Black), Thella (White), Eerra (Red), Jawar (Sorghum) - Pacha (Yellow), Thella (White), Gareebu, Manchi Nuvvulu (Sesame) - 3 months crops, 4 months crops, Gaddi Nuvvulu (Sesame), Aargulu (Proso Millet), Kodi Sama (Little Millet), Thaida (Ragi) - rikka, mudda, Bebbari (Cowpea) - Pedda, Thella (White), Anumulu (Field bean), - Thella (White), Nalla (Black), Eerra (Red), Pesarlu (Greengram) - Chemki, Kitiki, Ganga, Minumulu (Blackgram), Korralu (Foxtail millet) - Eerra (Red), thella (White), Nalla (Nalla), Mansu, Poraka, Ulvalu (Horsegram) - Eerra (Red), Nalla (Black), Bymugulu(groundnut), Green leafs, Payeli koora, Doggali koora, Jonna chenchali koora, gangapayeli koora, tomatoes, Bendalu (Ladies finger), Sajjalu (Pearl Millet) - Gundu, Muthyala .
"Earlier, we had only four varieties of crops. Mixed cropping is the best method. Every crop does something to the soil, while helping the other crops to grow, by way of providing safety against insects or enriching the soil with leaf fall. Further, we feel secure in the thought that if one crop fails, there is always one more to sustain us. Our animals too will have different kinds of fodder. These will keep them healthy and active. The best thing about this method is that our traditional crops are very hardy, and can survive under hostile conditions. Most often, chemical pesticides and fertilisers simply mess up the land. Therefore, we use neem and chilli decoctions, and other natural agents to fight the insects. To improve the fertility of our soil, we use dung manure as well as vermicompost. These are the natural strengths of our traditional agriculture.
The modern agriculture is too complicated for us--too much science, too much politics, and too much commerce. Further, it isn't even good for the soil. Our traditional method of cultivation has some character, some culture and an identity of its own. And more than anything, it sets up a mutual relationship with our own environment.
Now my crops give so much leaf fall that they generate about five cartloads of manure. This is very useful for my soil and its fertility. Now my "Bhoothalli Manchiga Kanipisthundi, Chenuku pothe Eentiki Rabuddi Kaadu" [mother earth is looking so beautiful that if I go to the field, I don't feel like going back home].
I produce ten kgs of Pacha Jonna (Sorghum), 180 kgs of Thella jonna,
a measure of erra jonna, a measure of Thoka Jonna, ten kgs each of Chemiki
pesari (Greengram), Ganga pesari, Kitiki pesari and 20 kgs of Sajja
(Pearl Millet). All this is for our own consumption, and for the seeds.
We don't sell our produce in the market, normally. Only if we produce
some surplus, we go to the market.
Name : Permangari Narsamma
Our Sangham started 15 years ago. Earlier, we used to work on the lands of the influential people of the village during weeding and harvesting seasons. Our husbands worked as bonded labour, because they had no freedom, individuality or dignity. They just had to listen to their masters. Now, the landlords and Kapus themselves tell us, " You people have changed a lot. Now, you don't come to us for work because the Sangham has brought you prosperity. You have your own lands and your resources. There isn't much difference now between you and us in terms of status."
After the Sangham came to our village, we have been witness to a number of initiatives like Alternative Public Distribution System, Watershed, Traditional Crop Cultivation, Bullocks Loan, Buffaloes Loan, and Traditional Manure Production. And we have been able to get all these only on account of the financial support that the DDS gave us.
I have 3 acres of land, and that too Beedu Bhoomi (Fallow land) or Gattu Bhoomi. In the beginning, it was a wasteland. But with the help of the Sangham, I have been able to regenerate the land. I began by treating half my land with dung manure, and let the other half stay as it was. In the last two years, just in 1 acre of land I have raised 30 varieties of crops. I practiced multi-crop cultivation, and grew Thogarlu (Red gram) - Eerra (Red), Nalla (Black), Aasha, Nadipi, Pundlu (Hibiscus) - Nalla (Black), Thella (White), Eerra Jawar (Red sorghum) - Pacha jawar (Yellow sorghum), Thella jowar(White sorghum), Gareebu jonna, Nuvvulu (Sesame) - Thella(White), Gaddi Nuvvulu, Aargulu (Proso millet), Kodi Sama(Little millet), Ragi/Thaida (finger millet), Bebbari (Cowpea) - Eerra, Thella, Aanumulu (Field bean), - Thella, Nalla, Pesarlu (Greengram) - Balintha, Manchi, Minumulu , Korralu (Foxtail millet) - Eerra, Thella, Nalla, Mansu Korra, Poraka Korra, Bailu Vari (paddy) , Makkalu (maize), Ulvalu (Horsegram), Bymugulu (ground nut), Green leafs, Payeli koora, Daggali koora, Jonna chenchali koora, gangapayeli koora, tomatoes, Voma (Fenugreek). Earlier, we used to grow only four varieties of crops: Sajjalu (Pearl Millet), Jawar (Sorghum), Korralu (Foxtail millet) and Togari (Redgram). But our experience tells us that multi-crop system is ideal, because different crops have different antidotes against worms and insects. So, we create a system which has the flexibility to deal with a variety of infestations. Further, the multi-crop system improves the fertility of the soil enormously on account of the number of different kinds of leaves which fall and fertilise the soil. And from the food security point of view, the system is simply a winner, because if we depend only on a few crops, and if they fail for whatever reasons, then we are sunk. So, the multi-crop system promises more security.
We can have our own seeds and choice of crops. We can grow fodder for our animals and keep them healthy. Basically, the reins of control will be in our hands. The sophisticated commercial crops are weak against a number of environmental conditions. But our crops are hardy, because they draw nourishment from the traditional methods of cultivation. We use dung manure, vermicompost manure, Neem oil, Neem cake, decoctions made of neem leaves and chillies, and they give natural strength to the crops. We are so happy that our lands are free from chemical pollution and constant dependence on water.
Traditional method of cultivation embraces our age-old love for our
mother earth. Our mother and we live to mutually strengthen each other,
while the modern method of cultivation is based on the evil idea of
exploitation. It impoverishes the mother by sapping all strength out
Name : Susheelamma
We used to live as agricultural labourers, and the 'kapus' and 'reddys' (upper caste) used to call us for day labour. With just 1 acre of land and no cattle or money, it was difficult for us to cultivate our land. They used to pay just Rs. 15/- for women and Rs 20/- for men per day. And even this meager sum was not paid regularly. Sometimes they paid and sometimes they did not. So we had to go to the local 'Saukars' (the village rich) for loans. And if they did not oblige, then we had to go to bed hungry. .
The land used to yield half a bag of jonna (Sorghum) and some senega (Chickpea) and kusumalu (Safflower), lankalu (Lathyrus) and avisslu (Linseed) -- perhaps 1 quintal if the crop was good. But since joining the Sangham, the 'padit bhoomi' (fallow land) was identified, and under the 'tindi badhrata,(Food security)' Rs. 800 was given for FYM application. That year we got 2 quintals yield of mixed seeds. Next year I was advised about vermicomposting, and I felt like trying it. I took it up and now I use vermicompost for my regadi (Black soil).
I came to know from the Sangham that if we use many crops, our health and our children's health will be good; because even if a few crops fail we would still have others to stay well-nourished. The soil also will get enriched with a variety of replenishments from different crops. Moreover, none of us farmers will have to go out and buy seeds, because one or the other of Sangham members will have a stock of the required seeds. "Ma chatula vitnalu unta make manchiga anpistidi, inka mana bhoomi lo aysukunta mana ka manghiga mollaka austindi (If we possess seeds in our hands we feel secure. If we grow them in our own lands we will be much more secure and very sure of their sprouting).
This rabi, I grew: tella jonna (Sorghum), doddu sensga (Chickpea big variety), sanna senaga (Chickpea medium variety), siri senega(Lentils), avisalu (Linseed), tella kusumalu (Safflower), avalu (Mustard), pundulu (Hibiscus), lanka (Lathyrus), in one acre of ragadi bhoomi ( Black Soil).
In the 1 acre of yerra bhoomi (Red Soil), I raised korra (Foxtail millet), manchi noovulu (Sesame), kodi sama (Little Millet), chinna manchi noovulu (Sesame), nalla sama (Little Millet), argulu (Proso Millet), paccha jonna (Yellow Sorghum), gundu jonna (Sorghum), joolu jonna (Sorghum variety), tella jonna (White sorghum), sajja (Pearl Millet), yerra jonna (Reg sorghum), tella togari (Redgram- white), nalla togari (Red gram - black), yerra togari (Red gram - red), yerra pundillu (Hibiscus - red), nalla pundillu (Hibiscus - black), tella anamalu (White fieldbean), nalla anamalu (black field bean), bebbarlu (Cowpea), tella bebbarlu (Cowpea - white), ulavalu (Horsegram), tamata (Tomato), ayadalu, and banti. There were other plants that sprouted, which were used as vegetables-- tummi kura, payala kura, gunuga kura, pundi kura, anapa kaya, tarbuja kaya.
Today, if I look back, I can sense a sea-change in my life. And what
is so exhilarating about it is the feeling of control that we are experiencing.
Earlier, we were like drift-logs being swept here and there by external
forces. We had to work for others on lands alien to us. We did not feel
that anything belonged to us. We were just being used. But now, thanks
to the Sangham, we are shaping our life in a way that we have chosen
on our own. Our lands, our resources, our skills and our dreams have
totally transformed our life. And you know something? I have been made
a member of the PDS Committee, a role that enables me to guide my sisters
in the Sangham. I am ever so happy that the Sangham is building up our
confidence, and making our life possible.