A Shining Example

Kareli village in Jambusar taluka
Chhatrasinh ran his fingers through the rice in the sacks, playing with it in child-like awe. This was his first crop of dangar — 13 sacks, 100 kilograms each. The experiment on 0.75 acres of his farm had yielded 1300 kgs of rice. His wife secured the ends of the sacks with a deft flow of the needle and thread. He loaded the sacks in his bullock cart and rode to the nearest farmers market a flutter in his heart. “I’ve kept aside a few kilos of our rice, I will cook some for lunch”, his wife called after him.

The yield of 1300 kgs of rice fetched Rs. 45,500 rupees. This was a jump of 30 per cent in his regular income. Encouraged by the earnings he now grows paddy on 1.5 acres of his 5 acre farm.

He had never dared to grow dangar before. Rice fields needed water, standing water. All they had was the rains. Chhatrasinhbhai’s fate was similar to other farmers in the region, a small land holdingr sticking to the traditional crops-tuver (red gram) and kapas (cotton) season after season. Each sowing season started with a prayer to the Rain Gods. Good rains heralded a decent crop; scanty rains despair and debt.

Prosperity knocked at his doorstep in 2016 – he joined Aatapi’s farmers’ group and attended the meetings regularly. Through the awareness sessions he was introduced to crops suitable for the local climate and soil conditions and modern farming practices. The construction of an 1843 cubic meter pond (built under the aegis of the Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell project) changed his fate.

Keeping faith in the guidance of the Aatapi team, he planted dangar (rice) in his 0.75 acres of his 5 acre farmland. “Ma Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth came into my home in the name of Aatapi, he told the other farmers. Rice was not the only winner. A single round of water — irrigation to his cotton fields increased his income by another 10 per cent. He was able to grow fodder because of the availability of water from the pond, this added another 8000 rupees to his income.

Chhatrasinhbhai is an inspiration to the farmers in the region. Aatapi celebrated Farmers Day on his farm. Chhatrasinhbhai shared his story with the farmers. ‘A small contribution to build a pond can transform our lives. Water is nectar for our fields.” Other farmers are now keen to take advantage of the government scheme and build ponds on their farm.