How the Sustainable Guar Initiative can change the life of a local Hindu family

Rukmani Devi Purnaram, 30 years old, lives with her three children in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan. She has studied till the 5th grade. Agriculture is the main livelihood source of the family. Purna Ram, her husband, is engaged in the farming of Guar, among other crops.

 

Women hardly have access to the market in the village of Dhirera. They are dependent on the male members of the family to procure vegetables once a week from the local markets. Since the men go to the market once a week, they prefer to procure vegetables which last longer without any additional storage requirement. Hence, the family mostly depends on potato, pumpkin, onions and bottle gourd to fulfill their nutritional needs. This makes it difficult for them to consume nutrient rich vegetables such as spinach and fenugreek as these leafy vegetables don’t last more than a couple of days. 

 

Development of kitchen gardens

 

Rukmani Devi attend two training sessions conducted by the NGO TechnoServe on the development of kitchen gardens. She also visited the demonstration kitchen garden developed by TechnoServe at Dhanni Devi Khetaram’s house. She was very excited by the prospect of growing vegetables in her own backyard, and soon adopted the practice. After the visits and training sessions, she worked closely with the NGO TechnoServe team to convince her family to recognize the nutritional benefits of developing a kitchen garden. Following this, she sowed ten vegetables in the first cycle – spinach, radish, carrot, fenugreek, turnip, pea, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato and onion. She made and applied amruit pani (organic repellent) according to what she learnt in the training. She regularly hoed and watered her garden. She also applied farm yard manure.

 

Benefits of the kitchen garden 

 

Rukmani Devi’s hard work has reaped her rich dividends. A total pf 33.5 kilograms was the produce of her kitchen garden in the first cycle. The family has saved INR 1340 (INR 40 is the average market price of per kg of vegetable) over three months on their vegetable consumption.

 

The benefits of the kitchen garden have been manifold. First, it has increased the frequency of the family eating nutritious leafy vegetables such as spinach and fenugreek. This has a long term benefit of improved health. Second, the kitchen garden has given a purpose to Rukmani Devi. She feels important as she is contributing productively to the family. This success has also helped in building her confidence and self-respect. Third, the produce of the kitchen garden has significantly reduced the food bills of the family.

 

In the second cycle sowing, she has already sown ridge guard, bottle guard, chili, tomato, brinjal, cucumber, and okra. Like her, there are twelve more women practicing kitchen gardening in Dhirera, and 79 women in total in the project.

 

"Earlier, my husband used to go to the market to procure vegetables on a weekly basis. It was mostly potatoes. This pattern of eating could not meet our nutritional needs. Ever since I started practicing kitchen gardening in my backyard, my family consumes highly nutritional fresh green vegetables. The training conducted by Technoserve has been a boon. Producing vegetables in my own backyard has given me a sense of accomplishment and purpose. I will be practicing kitchen gardening all year round and will encourage other women in my village to adopt kitchen gardening as well."

Guar farmer and his wife in their field, India