Padmabati Mandi is a spirited lady from Chingri village of Jhunjhka Gram Panchayat. She bears all the household expenses by cultivating her land. She used to live in extreme poverty with her son and daughter, and worked as a daily wage labourer. Earlier she used to practice chemical farming and cultivated upto 2-3 types of vegetables in one season. She used to find it difficult to cultivate her land due to water scarcity. They were unable to get sufficient amounts of nutritious food from her land due to less yield. There was no certainty of getting work every day and even when they got work, payment of wages was uncertain. Sometimes they couldn’t afford even one full meal a day.
It was in this situation that DRCSC (Development Research and Community Centre) was introduced to her in the year 2012. In the presence of DRCSC, she went through several agriculture related training programmes such as Livestock rearing, different techniques of preparing organic manure, etc. She was identified as a willed woman by implementers of the training programmes. Her homestead had a small space in the backyard, and as per the suggestion of DRCSC, they decided to turn it into a productive space. She started growing some nutritious vegetables and fruits by recycling household waste, grey water etc., and cultivated indigenous poultry in a symbiotic method. Poultry eats wastages of leafy & fruit vegetables and poultry litter is used for growing vegetables.
After harvesting the produce, she was convinced that there was scope of providing nutrition to her children through this. They had a fallow land just behind their small hut which had remained unproductive for years. She started utilizing it as well by using organic manure.
Now she grows a mix of seasonal vegetables cultivated on raised land and broadened embankments throughout the year. Crops grown include tomato, ladies finger, beetroot, carrot, chili, cowpea, ivy gourd, beans, spinach, radish, fenugreek, turnip, elephant foot yam, taro, amaranth, bitter gourd, coriander, brinjal, ash gourd, bottle gourd, pumpkin, ipomoea, ceylon spinach, cucumber, ridged gourd and snake gourd. Paddy is cultivated in the low-land during the rainy season and green gram, potato and onion during winter.
She is now empowered enough that she can take household decisions such as buying things or taking decisions in her children’s education. She and her family consume at least 450 grams of green vegetables or fresh fruits every day round the year. She shared, “This garden has become our guardian. It not only gives us nutritious food, but also gives us some income. I spent my maximum time gardening which gives me mental peace and happiness.”