Ramrati Devi is a small-landholding farmer, from district Sant Kabir Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. When floods hit her land in 1998, her crops were submerged and there was no food to eat for her family of seven. Since then, she has come a long way.
She had observed how the weather had changed; experiencing it first hand as it directly affected her farming and her food production from her land. The rainfall patterns had shifted, with erratic and heavy surges being a common occurrence. To continue farming the same way that she had been doing for the past so many years, was neither profitable nor practical.
Ramrati associated with Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG), joined lessons offered by them and learning from these inputs, she adopted an integrated farming system. This inclusive method is a change in the traditional farming techniques so that maximum production takes place in the cropping pattern and ensures that there is an optimal utilization of all existing resources. She began to follow a judicious mix of poultry & fishery, along with her crop farming, while also ensuring that her farm waste was better recycled and re utilised.
So she build a small pond in where she reared fishes, and also built a poultry house on stilts, right next to it. The excreta and waste feed from poultry thus acts as manure and feed for the fish in the pond, as well as manure for the crops in her farm. She planted banana trees on the pond periphery to avoid soil erosion and planted vegetable creepers on the poultry house, for a steady vegetable supply.
Rather than be a silent spectator, she decided to take on her problems head on. She learned new methods & innovations and then applied these new ideas to her farmland. In 2012, Ramrati began this experiment with a small investment, and today her profits have increased to more than 300%. She has ensured that there is total utilization of land and water resources in her farm, resulting in a large, diversified farm output, with minimum financial and labour costs.
Now, she has a threefold income- from selling meat, eggs, vegetables and farm products in the market. . The use of bio-manure and bio-pesticides which she prepares herself has further reduced her dependency on the market. Wastewater from the house & the pond water are utilised in the kitchen garden, and even the mud of the fish pond used for her house construction. Not only has she a stable income today, but her farm is better strengthened to face adverse weather events.
Today she stands taller & prouder. After all she has just been felicitated with the HT Woman 2016 award, by the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, in a glittering ceremony. Chosen by a panel of eminent judges, her work and her farming methods are seen as an inspiration and she as a role model. She tells happily,”The Chief Minister asked me questions about my methods and how I adapted them in my fields. I explained to him in detail about the integrated farming that I have learnt in detail and how it has helped me stand on my feet today.”
She holds her trophy and citation proudly, happy to be a part of a celebration that felicitates women, and someone as varied as her. Someone who is wise enough to learn new ideas, strong enough to implement them, and proud to be a woman of positive influence, an inspiration to many more.