MitraMitra

by Ad9Mitra

In April 2016, MITRA initiative was launched by Dr. Reddy’s Foundation in Bandwan block location of Purulia district in West Bengal. The expectation was to resolve the four problems – knowledge, irrigation, market and input of farmers by establishing a delivery channel which would be sustainable, scalable and impactful.

About Village Udalbani

Udalbani village is located in Bundwan Tehsil of Puruliya district in West Bengal, India. It is situated 10.9 km away from sub-district headquarter Bandwan and 59 km away from district headquarter Purulia. This village is secluded with approximately 255 households in it and with no touch of agriculture extension services.  All households belong to the tribal community and all of these farmers depend on agriculture and livestock rearing. People also collect non-timber forest products (NTFP) from the nearest forest. All the farmers grow paddy and rear goats to earn wages. Every year, people belonging to nearly twenty households migrate to other places for work and employment.

One such farmer of Udalbani village is Nimai Ch. Mandi, aged 46. He had completed his higher secondary level of education and lives with his mother, wife and one kid, who studies in the sixth standard. Nimai cultivates paddy and vegetables like brinjal, gourd, and bitter gourd, besides rearing goats on his farm. He owns a total of 3.5 acres land. Out of 3.5 acres, the 3-acre land is cultivable and out of 3 acres, his 1 acre of land receives irrigation facilities from a small pond for six months. This year he has harvested this small pond from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). He is expecting 0.5-acre land get the irrigation facilities for whole the year. Nimai’s total annual income ranges anywhere between Rs. 35,000 to 40,000. Talking about his dream, “Through agriculture so much developed could be done but as we do not know many things, it has not happened yet. Now we can make this possible with the help of MITRA programme and you.”

Paddy training session with farmers.

Journey of Nimai with Mitra

The story of Nimai’s agricultural transformation began when he learned about MITRA in July 2016, he attended a couple of community meetings and got nominated by the villagers for the role of a Lead Farmer (LF). He has attended three capsule-based training provided by Zonal Drought Resistance Paddy Research Centre, Purulia. One of the session was about soil sample collection and importance of soil test, and another two were about Paddy cultivation. All these training sessions were organized by MITRA team of Bandwan.

Lead farmer Nimai near his paddy nursery.

Nimai began the demo of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) of paddy cultivation in 0.3 acres with the Swarna seed variety and at the same time, he implemented all the critical steps he learned during the training such as seed treatment with carbendazim, raised nursery in wet bed, transplanted twelve days seedling in line, followed intercultural operation by Cono Weeder for two times and applied Neemastram (a bio-pest control technique) and fertiliser as per recommendation. He demonstrated this entire process to other fellow farmers.  He has also done Yield Assessment as per scientist recommendation (Square Meter Method).

Nimai Ch. Mandi expresses, “If we follow SRI or line transplanting method for paddy cultivation, I am sure the production would be increased, expenses would reduce and the activity would be easier”.

Nimai in the process of preparing Neemastram.

Overview of the Demonstration

Parameters Demo Plot(.3acre) Control plot(.5acre)
Expenses 1350 1850
Tiller 35 10
Production 7Quintals 5quintals
Net income Rs 6350 Rs 3650

Wife of Nimai carrying 12- days seedling from nursery to main field area.

Learning on Field

Being the lead farmer, Nimai arranged three live demos on the critical steps of seed treatment, transplanting and neemastram preparation. He was joined by six fellow farmers during the seed treatment live demos and while transplanting, whereas the number grew to 9 farmers at the time of neemastram preparation. He had arranged one informal learning meeting (ILM) with all the critical steps in the presence of 8 farmers and arranged one field day in the presence of 15 farmers in the meeting.   

“Once I heard about the SRI method from my close relatives, I did pay any heed at first. But of late, I have realized its importance, learned a lot from training sessions and applied it on the field. Now, every farmer should follow this method for better cultivation. I am ready to help anyone interested to learn in my village” shares Nimai.

Nimai helping other women farmers in running the cono weeder.

Nimai with at SRI demo plot with seedlings of 35 days old.

Help at Hand

By undergoing the training, Nimai came to know about the toll-free Kisan Call Centre number – 18001801551. He had registered his number with Kisan Call Centre and helped 12 other farmers with the registration. He utilized this service four times so far to address farm-related problems. He had visited Assistant Director of Agriculture (ADA) office three times this year and applied for Kisan Credit Card and had facilitated 9 fellow farmers to apply for the same.

Scientist visits Nimai’s field. Showing the difference of tiller between demo plot and control plot.

Future Plans

Nimai aspires to take up cultivating all the paddy land next year using this method. He also wants to utilize one bigha land for vegetables. Currently, his house is under construction and he expects the work to completed by February 2018 and then he would be able to cultivate creeper crop from March. According to him, he needs one more season of support from MITRA team for vegetable crops, before leading the change in his village as a lead farmer.

A happy farmer – Nimai in the process of crop cutting.
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