Mina Devi with basket of eggplant

Rural Women-Led Vegetable Farming

Mina Devi harvests eggplant in her garden in Banka District, India. (Photo by Jake Lyell, for LWR)

The Challenges

Banka District is situated in southeast Bihar, and spreads over a geographic area of 305,621 hectares. According to a recent survey conducted by The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Banka is one of the 100 poorest districts of India.

Agriculture is the major occupation in this area with rice as the main crop grown in Kharif (monsoon season) and wheat as the other crop in Rabi (winter season). Agriculture in this area is mostly rain fed with production directly linked to the quantity of rainfall received.

More than 75% of small and marginal farmers in Banka have less than half an acre of land and cultivate traditional varieties of rice paddies during the monsoon. Due to lack of knowledge and skills on diversified farming, limited market opportunities and the lack of formalized structures at the local level, farmers are unable to earn steady income, leading to economic insecurity.

The Project

The project seeks to increase economic security of small holder women farmers through vegetable farming using innovative farming practices. This project will be piloted with 500 women farmers in 25 villages of Banka District who are currently involved in rice cultivation in their small fields of less than an acre. Although these beneficiaries have achieved availability of staple food (rice) round the year, they are in their extremes in meeting household needs such as health care, children’s education, house repair, etc.

Additionally, this project is designed as a pilot to gauge the viability of each of the various improved techniques on vegetable cultivation that these farmers will learn and adopt in their fields, and the extent to which it can be scaled up and replicated to give permanent and sustainable results.

Objectives

  • Small holder women farmers produce diversified vegetables using innovative farming practices.
  • Small holder women farmers sell high yielding vegetables at appropriate divisional/regional markets for better income.
  • Women farmers are organized into an informal vegetable producer’s association.

PROJECT LOCATION