“During the lockdown, we were sitting idle in our homes as our regular work had stopped…now life has become boring without a job”. These were the words of Shobhana when she and six others were met by our team member to discuss the possibilities of conducting community farming at Edathuruth in Ernakulam district of Kerala.
An island in Ezhikkara region, Edathuruth is an area renowned for fish farming and pokkali (salinity resistant variant of paddy) rice cultivation. The locals are either daily wagers or are engaged in fishing and related activities. As an outsider visiting the area, one won’t miss the sight of people selling fish on both sides of the road. However, due to the pandemic, though some of them were able to venture out back into fishing and sell their catch locally, others were forced to remain home without any income.
So, when team Goonj approached this group of women, they were keen to be engaged in an activity and restart their lives. However, given the increased saline concentration of the soil, the chances of farming remained grim for this group of seven. Fuelled by the enthusiasm of the women, our team member approached the nearest agricultural centre for assistance. The women were then trained to carry out community farming in a scientific way and to tackle the issue of saline soil.
As the first step, the women began with the farming of okra (ladies’ fingers). For this, they cleared the land and planted the saplings and regularly monitored the growth. As the land bed required continuous maintenance, expert opinion was also taken on matters of pest control and fertilizers.
For the seven of them, what started as a Rahat initiative in the month of May has now attained fruition and they have been harvesting their produce ever since the first week of July. With a harvest of 10 kg till date, the ladies are thankful to have persevered.
Storyteller: Manu Sudhi
Goonj is working on various aspects such as water, infrastructure, environment, sanitation, education, livelihood, disaster relief and rehabilitation. More details on www.goonj.org