Uma Karad is a marginal farmer in the drought-prone Osmanabad district of Maharashtra with just a one-acre land holding. But with a one-acre climate-resilient farming model, she not only earns ₹50,000 per month but also produces organic food for her family. Like Uma, hundreds of women in Maharashtra have adopted this model which has won the Local Adaptation Champions Awards, organized by the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) at the COP27. 

“With one acre of land, we were not able to sustain drought and other problems. The loan was the only source to continue cultivation. Somehow we got produce worth ₹20-30,000 out of which about ₹16, 000 went to fertilizers. I used to work as a daily wage worker for ₹50 per day as agriculture was not a profitable venture,” recalled Uma while narrating her story of resilience. 

She came to know about climate-resilient farming from other female farmers and Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), the NGO working with women farmers. The mantra of climate-resilient farming was simple but difficult to digest for traditional farming households. 

Use of biofertilizers and pesticides, preservation and exchange of local seeds, diversification from single to multiple food crops, increase in the number of crop cycles, choice of water efficient and short term crops, stress on water conservation using micro irrigation system and diversifying into agri allied businesses is the key in this model.   

Female farmers from Marathwada region

Female farmers from Marathwada region

Uma started experimenting in about 5 guntha land and also bought a cow. As she started cultivating she ensured the food security of her family and also her organic product was in demand. “I sowed corn in 10 guntha and reaped the produce of 15 quintals. Slowly I increased the number of cows and today I have 10 cows and my dairy business fetches me ₹50,000 per month. Whatever I use in my field for cultivation and to feed my cows is produced on my farm,” said Uma.    

Women taking reins 

“As men make all decisions regarding farming, nobody listened to me initially. But I insisted that I want to cultivate in ten gunthas. Using this technique (climate-resilient model) I started cultivating vegetables and earned ₹30,000 in one go. Now, we use this technique in one acre and grow 32 varieties of various crops. Also, we are using some of the crops for making products,” said Sanjeevani Mahajan from Osmanabad. 

Deepali Suryawanshi from Latur added that this farming technique has helped her to support her family and with supplementary activities like poultry and dairy she has made her two-acre farming sustainable. 

SSP won the Local Adaptation Champions Awards, at the COP27 for supporting female farmers to adopt more resilient and sustainable agricultural practices. 

“The award is the result of the recognition of women farmers’ efforts to innovate and execute climate-resilient farming. Women have changed the narrative of agriculture in drought-prone areas of the State,” said Upmanyu Patil, Director Programs at SSP.