A Model Family Farm Using Sustainable Agriculture Methods In Meghalaya
Nah, a lady farmer using sustainable agriculture methods, is like a successful female entrepreneur. Her family farm land is in Puriang Village, in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. They grow a variety of crops, use animal dung to fertilize, try new methods of farming, experiment with new seeds and have a system to reach their produce to the market.
What she makes off the land provides her family a good quality of life and better education for her children. We would like to share their success story of using sustainable agriculture methods. Read on…
Intelligent Use of Land, Using Sustainable Agriculture Methods
It was a nice sunny day in March 2015 when the Zizira team reached Puriang Village to meet with Nah at her farm. Her land is close to Jowai in the Jaintia Hills. After spending over three hours walking around her farmland, asking questions and seeing things first-hand, the team returned with lots of new learnings - how they rotate crops, how fishing, rearing chicken and having a pig farm helps them reduce risks that are associated with agriculture and much, much more.
Nah has a lot of land and uses it wisely. Most importantly, she thinks about sustainability and sustainable agricultural methods. She strongly believes that the land she takes produce out of needs to be replenished and nurtured to continue to give her returns. She deploys parcels of land for many different products and produce so as to spread her risk and get better returns.
A large patch for growing vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage and potatoes
An orange orchard
A nursery to propagate seeds
A fish pond
A pig farm and
A pond with clean potable water, which has been tested and cleared. In fact, she even sells water. It is a lot of hard work. The family works together, sharing the responsibilities.
Provides Employment to Many
Nah’s family comprises her husband and 8 children. All of them work on the farm! Her farm provides jobs to many others too as they help her to cultivate the land, to rear livestock like chicken and pigs, to mend fish ponds and take care of the needs of the pig farm.
She employs people to deliver water that she sells in nearby villages. Nah’s farm sustains many other families too. Truly entrepreneurial and an example of sustainable farming model. It is also interesting that her children have taken to farming. Read a post about another village in Meghalaya where farmers were saddened that the next generation was not taking to farming!
Farming All Year Round Improves Returns
I am able to send my kids to school as we now farm throughout the year says Nah.
Seasonal farming that they did in the past did not sustain them. Nah is full of joy sharing the news that her eldest daughter is close to completing a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing! The next daughter is ready to start college. Both of them did very well academically. All the other children are in school. All this was possible only because they now know how to rotate crops and get the land to yield returns through the year.
Doing Her Best to Keep It Organic Farming
Nah takes care to follow organic farming methods, she told the team. She uses the dung of cows and pigs as manure, as also leaf mulch and other nature given bio-nutrients. But, when it comes to tomatoes, she seems to have compromised. “Tomato plants are highly susceptible to pests and need a dose of pesticides, but we are careful not to overdo it.” she said. Surprising that she has not found an organic solution for this problem. The Zizira team plans to find out and pass on the information to her.
Easier Access to the Market – Better Price Realization
For many years, Nah had to make her own arrangements to take the produce to the city market to sell. This meant time away from the land and the returns were insufficient. But things have changed. Vendors now come to the farm to purchase the produce. This helps farmers like Nah get better returns and save on transportation charges too. Prices do fluctuate, depending on demand and supply.
Nah told the team that there had been times when the price realization for cabbage was so low that they preferred to feed them to the pigs! Interestingly, most farmers cultivate rice, but for their own consumption.
What could other sustainable agricultural methods Nah adopt? Do you have any thoughts or suggestions for Nah? Tell us!