Change begins at home

Contributed by: Joshin K Jose, Assistant Program Manager, Digital Green – Jharkhand


Rinki Devi married into a family in Besradih, one of the most remote villages of Bundu block, Ranchi district, Jharkhand. Her husband’s family was very poor and survived on a meager income from a small land holding that the family owns. “It was very difficult for my family, especially when the crops failed due to poor rainfall and other environmental causes,” she shares.



Rinki Devi encouraging a discussion with a group of SHG members




Rinki Devi with her indomitable spirit wanted to do something to change the fortunes of her new family but didn’t know what she could do. Her family was too poor and very conservative. She was, however, very proactive and popular among her peers in the village. When self-help groups (SHGs) were formed in her village, she lost no time in becoming an active member of the group.


In the year 2014 Jharkhand State Livelihood Society (JSLPS) adopted Rinki Devi’s village to initiate the livelihood program. Knowing her to be proactive and outgoing, she was unanimously selected as the Ajeevika Krishak Mitra (AKM) for her village. However, it was a huge challenge for her to convince her family about her work.


Since her family was unhappy about her going out of her home and to other fields as an AKM, it became all the more challenging for Rinki Devi to introduce new practices such as Systematic Rice Intensification (SRI) within her own family. They ridiculed her learning. But she was determined to convince them. She thought it important to convince her own family first before convincing the others in the village.


Her persistence finally paid off and her husband agreed to adopt SRI. Rinki Devi used this opportunity to mobilize others to see the benefits and adopt the practice. I underwent a lot of anxiety throughout the crop cycle but when my family saw the tillers growing thick, the smiles of acceptance on their faces was my great reward, shared Rinki Devi. After the harvest my family was fully convinced that I was doing a good job and other farmers also started believing me. As a result now 80-90 families have adopted the SRI practice and other practices suggested by me, she adds with pride.



Rinki Devi disseminating a video to an SHG




As an appreciation for her hard work JSLPS promoted her as Senior AKM. Now she supervises 8-9 AKMs in her cluster. She regularly undergoes and upgrades her knowledge on various agricultural practices and transfers them to the farmers. In the last two years she has not only worked as AKM but also helped her husband with a loan taken from the SHG she is a part of, to start a pathology lab. She says the family who ridiculed her now values her suggestions and consults her on important decisions to be taken in the family. She says with great confidence that, I’m popular in the village and people consult me on various issues.


Since Digital Green started introducing its approach in the area, Rinki Devi has been one of the best mediators in the block. She has been disseminating videos not only in her own village, but she carries the hand-held, battery-operated projector wherever she goes and disseminates the videos among farmers. She has disseminated videos showcasing agricultural best practices in six villages so far. Videos are a very effective medium for knowledge transfer, she says.



A good farmer and neighbour

Kinu Yadav, is a local hero and inspiration for farmers in and around Dumaria village, Muraliganj block of Madhepura district, Bihar.


A marginal farmer who depends on farming as his primary source of livelihood, Kinu Yadav used to practise traditional methods of farming, like others farmers of this area, which did not help him meet ends for a family of seven, that includes his three sons, two daughters and wife. When he was younger, he used to migrate to other states for daily wage labour in the lean season. Now, his eldest son migrates to earn additional income as an unskilled labourer. His contribution helps Kinu’s family to cope up in times of adversity.


In 2013, Kinu Yadav started working with Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (BRLPS) locally known as JEEViKA as a village resource person (VRP). He received training on SRI (system of rice intensification, an improved rice cultivation technique) as well as on sharing information on this practice with the didis (women farmers and members of self-help groups). He assisted the self-help group (SHG) members in adopting the SRI method. He adopted it in his own fields as well and his yield for that particular season was 120 kilograms per kattha (1 acre is 22 katthas) which used to be 40-60 kilograms before SRI. The SHG members who adopted the practice also experienced a similar increase in yield on their farms.

Kinu Yadav showing the impact of adopted practices to SHG members




















In 2014, he was trained by Digital Green (in partnership with JEEViKA) to share information on best practices using videos. Apart from rice cultivation, Kinu Yadav learnt about improved ways of cultivating vegetables and other improved agriculture practices. He started adopting best practices such as seed treatment and maintaining space between seeds that he learnt from the videos. He took special care in adopting the key points as explained in the videos.


Kinu Yadav adopted many practices such as cultivating ladies finger (okra), brinjal (eggplant) and sack farming. In two katthas of land, he earned INR 4,000 in four months by selling okra. He grew brinjal on one acre and earned INR 60,000 within four months from selling only a part of the produce.


Videos helped him learn about sack farming and growing vegetables in sacks. The bitter gourd he cultivated using sack farming five months ago has yielded 300 kilograms of the vegetable which he sold in the market.


Kinu Yadav also learnt and adopted the practice of producing organic fertilizers and insecticides like jeevamrutham, ghanjeevamrutham, brahmastra and agniastra. He also prepared vermicompost after watching videos. Apart from adopting the featured practices himself, he also inspired other farmers to adopt these practices. And not just poor farmers like him, but rich farmers of his village also adopted and benefitted from the practices shown in the videos.


It is easier to share information with farmers through videos and the adoption of the best practices is also more feasible this way. I will continue working toward disseminating information on best practices provided by JEEViKA and Digital Green to more and more farmers to help enhance their productivity and income, says Kinu Yadav.



Watch this video about Kinu Yadav to hear his story in his words: