Innovative crop management strategies transform the fallowed field —and the life —of a woman farmer
Binodini Swain’s story serves as an inspiring example for farmers in Odisha who leave their lands fallow instead of cultivating non-paddy crops. Using the knowledge to cultivate groundnuts using the recommended package of practices she learned, Mrs. Swain adopted a new diversified cropping system of rice followed by groundnuts. Her openness to new farming technologies has given her benefits beyond higher harvest and profits.
The inclusion of a new crop after the rice is harvested in the wet season is an established approach to intensify the cropping system and boost the productivity of agri-food systems in India. The best bundle of technology, a suitable rice variety, followed by a suitable non-paddy, leads to improved incomes from both crops and makes farming systems diversified, stable, and more resilient.
However, despite the positive impacts of such strategies, crop intensification, and diversification in eastern India, the practice has not caught on. Among the reasons for this are farmers possess limited knowledge about suitable crops and varieties to plant after rice and the absence of a robust seed system for non-paddy crops.
A housewife becomes a farmer
Binodini Swain’s story serves as an inspiring example for farmers in Odisha who leave their lands fallow instead of cultivating non-paddy crops. Mrs. Swain is a 52-year-old farmer from Ambapua Village in Belaguntha Block.
Because of poor health, her husband is not actively engaged in farming their modest landholding of 0.2 hectares (ha). Until 2022, the family didn’t engage in sharecropping either as their son sought daily wage jobs, leaving Mrs. Swain as the sole breadwinner. She supported the household by working as an agricultural laborer.