18 June 2013
Continued from Part I
We pass through the main village habitation locally called Gavthan. To our initial surprise the Gavthan is full with dilapidated abandoned houses. Only a few houses are open with some old ladies moving around and doing some chores. Some are seen in extremely poor condition. We ask Nandu, the local volunteer youth who is accompanying us, why it was so. “Most of the villagers have gone into their field for staying. They have built houses there and abandoned their main houses in the village. You have to give proper attention to your farm which has very high value assets.” He told. That sounded great sense.
I asked Nandu how much would be the average income of the grape farmers. He said, “average net income per year goes to about 1 million Rupees per farming household in this village. Even the landless labourers here are skilled ones and earn about 2 lakhs in a year. One needs skilled labour for pruning and harvesting of grapes. Most of these labourers are part of the labour groups who take the work on contract basis. Some have gone further and have purchased lands in the village from this income and they are no longe landless. Some of the poor houses which you saw in the Gavthan are actually recent migrants came here in search of work and not the original villagers.”
We visit one farm of Mr. Chandrakant Kshirsagar. The house was completely empty since the entire family had gone somewhere out. Here you can not just go to a house and expect that they would be there available to meet you.This farmer has more than 25 acres of land half of which has been developed into orchards of grape and pomegranate. There is also a greenhouse where he cultivates bell peppers. He has a very big pond which has a storage capacity of 20 million litres. The water is drawn from his 4 wells during the rainy season whenever it is available and stored in the ponds. The irrigation is then given to the land through drip pipelines.
A lined farm pond with 1 million litre capacity
My scepticism was not completely gone away. I asked Nandu, “What about the small farmers having 2-3 acres of land. How do they manage.” Nandu himself was a young farmer with small holding. He and his brother together manage their 5 acres of land, 2 acres of which is irrigated. On about 0.5 acre, there was a small farm pond. There was about 0.5 acres of grapes. About 0.5 of acre is devoted to Pomegranate and 1/4th of an acre has one shednet covered greenhouse standing on it. Rest of ¼ acre is used for house and animal barns etc. But that did not complete picture. The interspaces in pomegranate had neat rows of rainfed Soybean and we also spotted a patch of vegetables near house. I peeked into the shed net structure. There was a green uniformly grown stand of sorghum. That was sweet sorghum. It gives higher fodder yields under shed net. They would also get some grains for home use. After harvesting he will be planting chillies in there. He showed me an arrangement where all the waste water from the house was getting collected in a tank and then pumped into drip lines. He first started using that in this year’s drought and he could save his pomegranate plot with it. After seeing this, large number of farmers made this arrangement on their own for themselves. That was really a ‘wow’ moment for me as the last bit of my scepticism had vanished then.
Nandu with his 2 acre land
This much is the physical part of the story. There is a great philosophical and theoretical angle to it about which I shall post in coming two days. Keep reading. Your comments are most welcome.
Continued in Part III