Sabita Singh walks to her newly constructed house, with the sea breeze blowing over Village Guptapara in the Andaman Islands, reflecting on the irony of life. The very same Tsunami which wreaked havoc in the Indian Ocean was indirectly responsible for changing her life for the better. With a shudder, she remembered her earlier days of working as a farm labourer, living in a leaky little hut, the backbreaking toil in the field for just Rs. 100 a day and that too for only 7 months in a year, her three children crying due to hunger as she struggled to make two ends meet... those were some difficult times.
All these problems were compounded when the Tsunami struck and she had almost given up hope of a better life. Hope was, however, on its way. She remembered the day she was contacted by the officials from Department of Bio-Technology (DBT). At first she did not believe them when they told her that her half acre land, presently leased out, was good enough to change her life She was instructed on the virtues of Integrated Farming and slowly began to see the light of the day.
She was finally convinced when they taught her how she could get low cost manure through composting using organic sources and how the breeding of pigs, goats, cattle and poultry would supplement the crop income and build up capital. The team also impressed upon her the need to grow different vegetables like chillies, spinach, coriander, etc. which would also be a source of good nutrition for her children. Best of all, funding was provided under DBT's Scheme on "Rehabilitation of Tsunami Affected People through Technological Intervention in A&N Islands."
With modern methods, right farming technologies, vision and hard work, Sabita's small holding has not only been transformed, but also has changed her family's future for the better. Today, Sabita's income has multiplied to Rs. 55,000 a year, her children are attending school and there is a proper roof over her head with nutritious food on her table
Highlights of Success
- Crop diversification - addition of non-conventional crops like chillies, spinach, coriander, cowpea, French beans etc.
- Innovative composting methods by using garden weed and other cheap organic sources for steady supply of manure
- Integration of pigs, goats, cattle and poultry with agriculture to supplement farm income
- Identification of private markets for the farm output
(Source : CARI, Port Blair )