Malho Marndi: A changemaker and a rising hope for mechanized direct-seeded rice in Odisha
Malho Marndi, standing in her DSR field, defines herself as a passionate farmer who is willing to try new technologies. (Photo: IRRI-India)
Malho Marndi proudly recounts her journey as she returned to her village in Odisha, India to engage in farming and became a progressive farmer in her area. People described her as “mad” because she was quick to embrace agricultural innovations. Most farmers typically avoid them because of the uncertainties of the outcome of implementing modern practices. Now, seeing her success, her fellow farmers come to her for advice. “Unless we farmers try, we will not be able to decide on what will help us improve our productivity. Leaving land fallow is not the solution, if there is new technology let’s try!” she said.
“Being a woman, I have a lot of additional work to do; hence the machine helps me in many ways to ease my life as a farmer!” said Malho Marndi from Angarpada Village of Kusumi Block in Mayurbhanj. Married with three children, she proudly recounts her journey as she returned to her village and did agricultural work, and became a progressive farmer in her area.
“I define myself as a passionate farmer,” Mrs. Marndi said. “I decided to come back to my village after eleven years and started farming with new improved technologies.”
A woman ahead of her time
People frequently described her as “mad” because she was quick to embrace agricultural innovations when most farmers typically avoid them because of the uncertainties of the outcome of implementing modern practices.
“I was using mechanical transplanting of rice, maize, and wheat using seed drills,” she said.
Mrs. Marndi is also one of the 43 women farmers who started using mechanized direct-seeded rice (DSR) under the DSR-Odisha Project with the Government of Odisha.
“When I came to know about mechanized DSR and its benefits, I decided to shift to DSR,” she said. “I was confident in using a seed drill but mechanical or manual transplanting in recent years proved risky in our rainfed area. I’m the first woman farmer in my village to practice DSR on almost 8 hectares of land.”
Less water requirement, savings in time and costs, reduction in drudgery, and increased yield productivity have been the major reasons for her to continue practicing mechanized DSR technology. When asked, she noted that weed growth posed a challenge.
“Weeds do create problems,” said Mrs. Marndi. “But applying then doing integrated weed management on time resolves the problem. When I see the weed emerging, taking immediate action solves the problem. Every technology has its pros and cons, but what matters the most is that we farmers must be alert.”
Timely labor availability is another serious issue we face and DSR helped me in resolving that very effectively, according to her.