Stories from the Field

Growing strawberries in Jharkhand!

Neha Roba Tirkey
Jharkhand
SUMMARY

Yamuna Mehta is an educated farmer who, with a helping hand from Transforming Rural India (TRI), embraces innovative farming methods. She’s not your average farmer—Yamuna cultivates strawberries, a new crop in her region. This leap not only boosts her earnings but also sets her up as a role model for fellow female farmers.

FROM TRADITIONAL FARMING TO NEW TECHNIQUES

Yamuna Kumari Mehta is a dedicated mother and a student pursuing her postgraduate degree in Geography from Karamchand Bhagat College in Bero. Hailing from Kudarkho village, Yamuna has always been involved in agriculture, working alongside her family. Until recently, their farming methods were confined to traditional practices, focusing on crops like paddy, wheat, and vegetables.

But things took a turn when Transforming Rural India (TRI), being development designers for regenerative development, entered the scene. TRI introduced Yamuna to cutting-edge farming techniques that promised greater yields and income. Impressed by TRI’s vision and the potential to transform their livelihoods, Yamuna wholeheartedly adopted these new methods.

Yamuna’s journey began with a crucial step – joining hands with TRI’s team. Known for her immense capabilities and diligence, she was chosen for the Farmer Field School (FFS) program. This program provided her with an opportunity to learn and experiment with innovative farming methods.

SWEET SUCCESS WITH STRAWBERRIES

Yamuna’s determination and guidance from TRI really paid off. In October 2022, she received 1000 strawberry seedlings. Together with her husband, they planted these seedlings in a specially designed kheyti structure (a protected cultivation technique) and an open field. Although growing strawberries wasn’t common in their region, Yamuna readily accepted the challenge. With careful monitoring and hard work she watched her plants thrive, and by December, she harvested her first crop.

By the end of the season in April 2023, Yamuna had an impressive yield of 261 kg of strawberries, earning a profit of Rs 44,250. Notably, her marketing skills were top-notch—she sold her produce at premium prices, fetching up to Rs 400 per kg.

TRANSFORMATIVE IMPACT

Yamuna’s success with strawberries is a testament to the transformative power of TRI’s interventions. From picking the perfect spot to offering ongoing advice on crops, fertilizers, and pests, TRI’s support proved invaluable. Thanks to their guidance, Yamuna’s yearly income jumped from Rs 2 lakhs to Rs 2.8 lakhs. Plus, she earned an impressive extra Rs 74,550 from her demonstration plot.

Besides the financial transformation, Yamuna’s story holds a deeper significance. She has become a role model in her village. “Working with TRIF has helped me create an identity for myself. Now I am known as a successful farmer and this has helped me prove the fact that even women can do farming equally well. By cultivating a new crop like strawberry and also managing my household chores, I have been able to carve a reputation for myself and redefine the identity of a woman farmer,” says Yamuna.

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