The COVID days have changed the lives of people all over the world, so as the lives of the farmers. Stepping in to the scenario of rural Assam, and picturising such a story from our fields in Boitamari Block, Bongaigaon District, Assam, Latika Sarkar Baideu from the village Jalakhata, shared her journey from pre COVID to the recent days.
Baideu (women farmer) has been engaged with livelihood activities as agriculture, livestock rearing and weaving from the past few years, but just in the household level. Her family was mainly dependent on daily wage labour with an annual income of Rs. 10,000 approximately. Initially, with the onset of COVID 19, the family faced a lot of problems and also found ways to tackle them eventually. Baideu used to practice a small kitchen garden, which was not sufficient to spend in the initial days of lockdown. They had enough paddy, thus rice to eat, but nothing to complement with rice. During the total lockdown period, when stepping out of the house was not allowed, and they had no work in hand, the family spent a tough time in sustaining their livelihood. That was the time when Baideu saw a way out and started preparing masks and selling it in the nearby vicinity, and eventually, it got into the local market. She earned around Rs. 3000 by selling the masks.
After the total lockdown was lifted, Baideu got engaged with various livelihood activities intervened by SeSTA. She also started livestock activities and got herself involved in practicing backyard poultry. Till now, she has earned an approx. amount of Rs. 4000 by selling eggs, hens and ducks. She has also been selling cow milk and has earned an amount of Rs. 7000 in the last 6 months.
Baideu has also been actively engaged with the project of Nutrition Garden under United nations Development Programme (UNDP), practice of horticulture orchard, and Vermi composting. She earns an average income of Rs. 10,000 by selling Arecanut. She started practicing Vermicomposting since the middle of COVID days, after getting training and demonstration from the professionals of SeSTA, and she was really happy to share the profit earned out of it. She also said how easy and profitable Vermicomposting is, and believes that it is one of the best organic manures. She earned an amount of Rs. 5700 from Vermicompost and also motivates other Baideus from her VO (village organization) and SHG (self-help group) to practice it. She also earned an amount of approx. Rs. 8000 from her nutrition garden.
She was really happy narrating this journey from the pre COVID to the post COVID days, and was really excited to share her plan for the coming season. Baideu has recently started with mushroom cultivation in a very small scale, but has already gained an income of Rs. 500.This has motivated her even more, and in the coming days, she is planning to practice mushroom cultivation in a larger scale to scale up the production. In this Kharif season, Baideu in her Producer Group, along with the other PG members are planning to practice Black rice cultivation together. She is expecting that this would not just be a profit for the Baideus, but for the FPC (farmer producer group) too. Along with on farm activities, with the arrival the Assamese new year, and Bhogali Bihu, Baideu has been continuously engaged in handloom since a few days, and has earned a profit of Rs. 2000 by selling 20 Gamusas, and Rs. 1500 by selling 6 mekhelas.
From an annual income of Rs, 10,000 earlier to now, an annual income of Rs. 30,000 approximately of the household, Baideu has not only gained profit but she has also learnt a lot of new things in the last few months. This motivated her to engage in more such livelihood activities and aspires for more success in the days to come.