Manjulaben lives in remote tribal village Ratanpur, Khedbramha block of Sabarkantha cultivating 1 acre land and a small grocery store in village to feed her 8-member family. Five years back, Manjulaben (now in her 40s) started saving Rs.50 per month in Ambika SHG a saving and credit group initiated by VIKSAT. She continued savings and attended various trainings at VIKSAT Kheroj centre. She also participated in exposure visit to improve farming practices.
Since was regular to group meetings and trusted VIKSAT for its support. She never stopped savings even during difficult times. Based on her consistent savings, the group agreed to lend her a loan of Rs. 20,000 as contribution to buy a buffalo. She took good care of the buffalo and supplied milk to local collection centre. She steadily added animals and now she has 2 buffalos, 3 calf and 2 cows. She earns around 6,000 per month from milk, i.e., effectively earning Rs. 60,000 per year from dairy farming.
Manjulaben used to practice traditional cropping - maize in monsoon and wheat in winter in 1 acre land. When she met VIKSAT team, she learnt that several new crop varieties can be cultivated in her land that can give much better income. She introduced pigeon pea as intercrop along with Maize in monsoon. She opted for Millets and black gram as inter crop in Summer. Last year she could sell 200kg pulses at Rs.15,000 in local market. Black gram she kept for home-consumption(60kg). She cultivated 600kg Pearl Millet and sold at Rs.10,000 and fodder kept for animal feeding. As third crop she cultivated 1200kg green chillies, dried and sold at Rs.90,000. She also cultivated 400kg turmeric not yet sold. In addition, she took adjoining land on rent and cultivated cotton and sold for Rs.30,000.
She shifted her farming practices from chemical fertilizers to natural compost-based farming. She started vermi compost at home and used it in own fields. By this she saved the cost of 4 bags of DAP/Uria application.
From the earnings of past 2 years, she first built a toilet at her home. She also renovated her house and made it pucca house. She didn’t stop here. She encouraged her elder daughter to pursue degree in nearby college. Manjulaben insists that girls must be sent to school.
She also purchased a small 1 ton transport vehicle to carry produce to local market. She also rents it out to fellow farmers. One of her sons operates the vehicle. Her husband also purchased a motorcycle to reach nearby town for all needs.
With the help and guidance from VIKSAT she could set up Biogas plant. Since tribal family’s food is cooked on firewood, she prefers to make tea, rice etc., on gas.
Manjulaben says, ‘earlier we used to borrow cash from others for daily needs and to buy fertilizers or seeds in monsoon. Now we need not borrow anything from anyone’.
To sum up the gross earnings, it is Rs.1.55 Lakhs from various value-added crops and Rs.60,000 from dairy. Her annual income is Rs.2.15Lakhs. She is now Lakhpati Kisan in her village and encourages other women to become a Lakhpati Kisan.