Northern India’s Farmers Raise Production

By Kathryn McConnell

Washington – Farmers in the northern India state of Uttar Pradesh are beginning to harvest more crops from their fields and get more milk from their cows, thanks to a joint U.S.-India project.

“I was told how to improve the feed so I can get more milk and how to keep the cattle sheds clean and hygienic,” Kiran Singh said of the techniques she learned through a project called the Partnership for Innovation and Knowledge. “I learned when to vaccinate the cows, how to handle pregnancy in my cattle and when to stop and start milking the cows so that we don’t lose milk,” she said. “I even learned about insuring them.”

The project is a collaboration started in 2008 by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which provides teachers from its agriculture department. The partnership introduces science-based methods to farmers so they can increase their productivity, earn more money and regularly feed their families healthy meals. About 40 percent of the people in Uttar Pradesh don’t have enough to eat or enough nutrition in their diets, according to USAID. “We could not even earn a rupee earlier,” Singh said of her family’s struggles earlier in the decade. Her husband, Dharmendra, could not grow enough crops on their small plot to support a growing family. When Dharmendra broke his arm, for a time he could not handle farm tools.

Singh decided she needed to find a way to contribute to the family’s finances quickly. So, in 2004, she joined the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust’s women’s development program and learned about self-help groups. Nearly 600 women are in her group in Topari village in Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar district. All of them contribute to a group loan fund. Shortly after she joined, Singh received the first of two small loans from the fund to start a dairy business.

With training, Singh began to apply new techniques on her farm. In time, the local government appointed her a “master trainer,” a position she has used to teach better cattle-care practices to other farmers. She is particularly excited about encouraging women to become dairy farmers. “I use the example of my own life to motivate them,” she said. In addition to selling milk from her eight buffalo and nine cows, she boosts her income by selling compost. “Now we get 2,000 rupees every day, or about $46,” she said. Her profits are enough to send her children to school and provide the family with a healthy diet.

BETTER WHEAT HARVESTS

Another beneficiary of the program in Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar district is Kaushalya Yadav. She grows wheat, a staple crop in India. In training with the Partnership for Innovation and Knowledge project, Yadav learned planting, tilling, weeding and irrigating methods that conserve soil and water, require fewer seeds and produce higher yields. She began by applying the technique to just a small patch of her land. At the end of her first season, Yadav nearly doubled her yield. “My confidence in this technique grew, and today I train my village sisters,” she said. For her expertise, Yadav has earned the respect of farmers in her community, she said. Yadav also grows eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers and peas.


USAID helped form village “farmer clubs.” Yadav’s husband, at first reluctant about theconservation techniques, has been active in speaking to his neighbors through one such club in Nagar’s Misr Ka Purva hamlet. He helps other farmers learn about his family’s new way of farming.

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Posted by on Jul 22 2011. Filed under Headlines, World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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