Farming by Shree Samarth Shetkari Mandal, Yeola (Tal. Ghansavangi)

 High quality silkworm cocoons are produced through group farming and are sold collectively.

High quality silkworm cocoons are produced through group farming and are sold collectively.

Inspiration from group farming

Everyone from the Shree Samarth Shetkari Mandal observes experiments done by the others in the group and implements them in their farm. If someone lags behind, they can take the help of the other members. If someone makes a mistake, he can realize it and makes corrections. When the youth in the village started taking serious interest in farming, the elderly members of the family did not take them seriously. Now, however, as the picture of farming becomes evidently promising, and quality is seen, they have now started to trust the new generation and they have now started delegating some of their responsibilities to their children. Since it is a collective responsibility, group members eagerly help each other. If a farmer is in financial need, he is provided assistance as necessary. Agricultural inputs are purchased collectively. Also, everybody is not required to go for selling the silkworm cocoons.

Group farming has grown its roots quite firmly in Marathwada. The experiments conducted in group farming have brought about developments in farming. 20 farmers from Yeola (Tal. Ghansavangi), dist. Jalna joined hands, and they cultivated amla. Each of them owns a farm land of about two to two-and-a-half acres. But later, they discovered that the amla saplings were defective. The experiment failed. Next, there was a drought condition, and it was difficult for crops to survive. Another calamity hit this year too in the form of a hailstorm. However, these farmers were determined to do something substantial in farming. Today, the farmers have established a firm base of economic progress by doing pomegranate and silk farming.

Vilas Lakshmanrao Tangde, a villager, took the initiative to ensure that personal conflicts, politics etc. would not enter into the farming business. He brought the young farmers and the female farmers together.

Yeola has a population of about a thousand. The soil in the village is of medium to inferior quality. This area is known to be drought-prone. Naturally, the farmers here resort to conventional crops. They barely survive from its income. There was also no alternative in sight. Tangde saw the farmers suffering and he could understand the villagers’ desire to change this condition. This led to the establishment of the Shree Samarth Shetkari Gat.

Development of silk farming along with pomegranate farming

In the group, 14 members are into pomegranate and silk farming; three farmers are into mulberry (tuti) farming. The area under pomegranate farming varies from 1.5 to 2.5 acres. The planting was done in January 2012. The farmers have kept the area under mulberry farming from 2 to 2.5 acres according to needs and convenience. Everyone has constructed a shed of 60×23 feet in their farms, which has become the breeding house of silk worms. They have also received government subsidy for this. Ceiling sheets have been used for the breeding houses. Ten racks have been created inside using iron rods and nets. Shed nets have been fixed on all sides of the breeding house. Maximum use of dung manure for cultivating mulberries has led to an increase in the water retention capacity of the soil. The mulberry trees have grown healthy and this has led to good production of mulberry leaves. Water from the well was used for cultivating mulberry trees. Drip irrigation was also used as needed. Till date, every farmer in the group has taken two batches of silk farming. Each batch consists of 200 to 250 clusters of eggs. In the first batch, 80 kg of silk worm cocoons were produced per 100 clusters of eggs. In the second batch, up to 85 kg of silk worm cocoons were produced per 100 clusters of eggs.

Farmers have become more confident as the planting, silkworm breeding house, and sale are managed collectively. Considering the income received this year, 20 hectares have once again been recorded with the Silk Board and now, about forty to fifty farmers from the village have turned to silk farming. The farmers are guided by the office of Silk Board in Jalna. The group leader, Tangde, believes that if mulberries are grown in 2.5 acres and if silk production is taken in two batches, it can fetch an income of 30 to 40 thousand rupees per month. The group has selected the V-1 variety of mulberry and Bivoltine breed of silk worms.

Growing pomegranates via the Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS)
The farmers from the groups have started farming of pomegranates via the Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Scheme. The production of pomegranates will begin soon. In the drought last year, other fruit orchards in the Taluka including those of sweet lemons, pomegranates, were scorched because of lack of water. But all the farmers from the group supplied water through tankers and revived and took care of the orchard. The unseasonal rains and hailstorm that hit two months ago also caused the pomegranate blossom to drop. But undeterred, these determined farmers did not leave the orchards. They began the management anew, and made the orchards productive. Now, the trees are bearing plenty of pomegranates. The farmers hope for a good harvest.

This is how silk cocoons are sold
Experiments and farm activities are reviewed during the group meetings. When the silkworm cocoons mature, they are collectively recorded and the goods are collected in one place. Then, the cocoons produced are transported to Parbhani by a tempo. Then they are sent by railway to the famous market of Ramnagar in Karnataka for sale. Three of the farmers from the group go there for this purpose. The collected goods are weighed and then sold collectively. Transport expenses are deducted from the money received, and the remaining amount is distributed according to the share of each farmer. In this arrangement of sale, the first batch fetched Rs. 432 per kg and the second batch fetched Rs. 390 and Rs. 405 per kg. The local branch of Bank of Maharashtra gave loans to all the farmers for the construction of sheds. The silk department gave a subsidy of Rs. One lakh for the construction of sheds.

“Shree Samarth Shetkari Mandal, Yeola, dist. Jalna has started collective farming of pomegranate and silk. This collective farming has proved that support from each member is extremely essential to cope up with calamities like drought, hailstorms or other problems.” – Subhash Bide

“For many years, silk farming was new to us in this village. In the beginning, we faced problem in its management. We were under the impression that the silk farming business is a difficult and complicated one. We were also worried about how it would be successful in the summer heat. But the aspiration to do something new did not let us sit idle. We sought guidance from experienced farmers, and tried to make the farming successful. Agrowon too provided guidance and it helped a lot. Almost all the people from the group receive Agrowon regularly. The success stories in it inspire all of us.”
Vilas Tangde: 9404482748, 7350943331
President, Shree Samarth Shetkari Gat,
Yeola, Dist. Jalna

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