Thrisangu Malar team - vermi-composting training
Farming has always been a dominant vocation in the tiny village of Neikulam that sits on the periphery of the grand old city of Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, India. With the advent of the green revolution in the 1960s came the inorganic fertilizer boom, and farming became a costly affair over the years. The land was stripped of its nutrients, and water table fell drastically, and farmlands ran dry of natural nutrients. Now, the farmers are taking baby steps back to their roots to switch back to the age-old natural methods. The women in the community had been silent observers of this change. Slowly they came to the forefront to lead by example in this village. They formed a self-help group (SHG), a group of people who work on daily wages, farming, and animal husbandry. They created a loose grouping or union and named themselves ' Thirusangu malar,' meaning the flower of Baobab. They decided to befriend the farmer's best friend - the earthworm. Tiny as it may seem, the humble earthworm helps turn leaf litter, food waste, and soil into 'Black Gold'- the vermicompost.
" Given the meager earnings, the men are often compelled to migrate to nearby towns and cities to find work to support their families. However, migration is not an option for the women of Neikulam.." says Amala. She is a 36-year-old housewife who used to take up daily wage works under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme. Her husband migrated to Dubai as a daily wage laborer to make ends meet. She has to take care of her two children and household work and daily labor. " It was very hectic for me. When the self-help group was formed, I was eager to take up activities with them. Since most of us do not have much land with us, we were skeptical about taking up agriculture-related activities. But VOICE trust called us for training at their Sirugannur Centre. We learned about vermicomposting and started with the bags they gave us." she says, beaming with pride. Amala spearheaded the Trisangu Malar group's activities, availed training with VOICE Trust's technical team, and got the starter pack of 10 vermicompost beds. The 12 members' strong SHG has provided these rural women the space to discuss new ideas and work towards their aspirations. To bolster the group's activities and develop it into an enterprise, they would put the earnings from the business in a joint SHG savings account. These savings are crucial for the success of the SHG and to meet the members' financial requirements in times of need. These women have started dreaming of building a good life without moving away from their village while helping the farmers heal their land. They did not just want to learn new skills but also wanted to start a shop in the village where they could sell vermicompost manure and other bio-inputs made by them. They say the earth never forsakes the one that believes in her. The group had diligently worked on the starter kit and harvested 1000 kg of superior quality vermicompost. They sold the 'Black Gold' at Rs 8 per kg, resulting in a 5% increase in their overall earnings. The earth and her tiny soldier, the humble little earthworm, kept their promise and helped these women inch towards fulfilling their dreams. The silent revolution in the countryside has begun and shall again momentum until environmental protection is a tangible reality. This project wouldn't have been possible without your kind donations!!
We are sending much love and many thanks.
With their first harvest of vermi compost