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Growing Roots

GROWING ROOTS

In the Gabindapur village of Kumari Gram Panchayat in India, monsoon season controls the community’s agricultural activities. Durgamoni Mandi, 38, and her family are only able to cultivate rice paddies during the wet season.

 

Because they have no water resources to irrigate their land in the dry season, they can only grow crops for one or two months per year. In a good monsoon season, they can cultivate up to three months worth of food from their own land, but these good years are very infrequent. Before joining the Trickle Up program’s Ma Annapurna Self-Help Group, Durgamoni and her husband’s only economic activity in their village was rice cultivation, forcing them to migrate to Bardwan for work when they couldn’t grow rice. They migrated for wage labor three or four times a year and still only earned INR 10,000-12,000 ($150-$180) a year total. Even in a good year, they struggled to make enough to eat in April and May – the hungry season.

 

Durgamoni has two sons and a daughter. Five years ago, her daughter was married at only 15 years old. Her oldest son, 14, dropped out of fourth grade a few years ago due to the family’s extreme poverty and frequent migration. Now Durgamoni’s younger son, 11, is her only child still in school. For many years, especially during a bad monsoon season, the family was forced to borrow money from a local moneylender with high interest to pay for education and medical costs.

Durgamoni joined the Trickle Up program in June 2014 and began to turn her family’s life around.

 

With the help of staff from our partner Jamgoria Sevabrata, she planned to cultivate tomatoes and beans in the monsoon season, initially investing INR 6000 in vegetables. She also bought a male goat for INR 3000 to start another source of income rearing livestock. The next year, she made a profit of INR 2500 by selling the first goat, and invested her profits in another male goat. She purchased a water pump with the rest of her seed grant and some of her profits, allowing her to continue tomato cultivation in the winter season. With this increase in productivity and income, she was able to cultivate vegetables during two seasons and purchase more livestock.

“After making some initial losses, we now have a fair idea about the right market price,” Durgamoni says.

 

In the three years since she began goat-rearing and diversified her farming, she has earned a total of INR 38,000 ($572). She now owns three adult sheep, a kid sheep, and a cow. She has INR 3,325 in her savings account with the Ma Annapurna savings group and has set aside INR 11,000 to make a bigger goat shed, which she has just started building. Her husband works with her on the farm full-time now, only occasionally working as a local wage laborer if needed. She also was approved to receive benefits from  a local government program, Gram Sansad. She expects to receive funding from Gram Sansad soon, allowing her to fulfill her dream of building a good house and providing for her family. Trickle Up often helps participants like Durgamoni access government social programs that they wouldn’t know about or have access to otherwise, leveraging government funds to help the extreme poor graduate out of poverty.

 

“I will take care of my younger son’s education. Now we have no need to go to Bardwan to earn money,” Durgamoni says proudly of her new success.

Durgamoni Mandi of Gabindapur, India
Tomato and bean farmer, shepherd, wholesale supplier