Aashwini Ashok Randive

Aashwini Ashok Randive 

Aged 24

Total of six members in household One child aged 2 ½ and expecting a second Mandwa Village, Osmanabad Ten-acre farm   “While pregnant I eat about 4 to 5 times a day and I eat a very wide variety of vegetables and more fruits. t is very important to be eating organic foods especially when I am pregnant because it is better for the health of my baby. “

BEFORE:  “My husband is in the army so I was working on the farm with my mother- and father-in-law, and we were using chemicals to grow cash crops like wheat, cotton, soya, and jowar primarily to sell,” recounts Aashwini. At the time, the foods that her and her family were eating, including her then one-year-old son, were treated with many chemicals, “the foods we were eating were not good for our health, and my family members got sick often from eating these things.”    Their large 10-acre plot of land was also difficult to maintain due to the hefty financial burdens associated with the purchase of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These inputs were eating away at the health of the soil, which Aashwini recalls having taken on an odd reddish hue, and inhibiting its capacities to retain and absorb adequate moisture. In an area prone to drought and severe water scarcity, the side-effects of chemical, mono-crop farming were becoming too challenging to bear.    AFTER:  In 2018, Aaswhini struck up a relationship with SSP and began attending training sessions to learn about organic farming and how to produce non-toxic, all-natural inputs like vermicompost and organic pesticides, which she now produces herself. When she felt she had learned enough to make a solid case to her in-laws, she set about trying to convince them.   After completing some educational demonstrations for them, and informing them about the many advantages of organic farming and the undeniable disadvantages of chemical farming, her in-laws changed their minds and agreed to adopt SSP’s model. Now, all of Aashwini’s family’s 10 acres are organic and provide her entire family with a bounty of healthy and nutritious foods. Since adopting the diversified, mixed crop method Aashwini now grows nearly 30 different varieties of fruits, vegetables, and pulses on her land, which includes fenugreek, spinach, chukka, ladyfinger, pumpkin, ridge gourd, onion, bitter gourd, tomato, chili, garlic, brinjal, cucumber, coriander, potato, bottle gourd, pomegranate, guava, mango, custard apple, matki, toor dal, moong dal, masoor dal, udad dal, chana dal, kidney beans, and cow peas. In addition to the fresh produce and pulses grown, Aashwini and her family also own 2 cows and 1 buffalo, which they use to produce milk, curd, ghee, and buttermilk.  For the most part, these dairy products are produced and consumed within their household alone; however, because the quantities of milk produced exceeds what is required for their family, the extra milk is sold to the dairy, providing the family with a more diversified livelihood that cushions them from income insecurities in leaner agricultural periods.  The changes made to the health of her land have also been keenly noted by Aashwini who says that, “since I began farming organically, the percentage of worms in our soil has increased and our harvest yields have doubled since we have stopped using chemicals on our land.” The soil, which was once an unusual red, is now much smoother and is a very rich and deep black/brown in colour as a result of treating it with the vermicompost fertilizer that she now makes at home.    For Aashwini, her growing family was one of the most important incentives to make the switch from chemical, cash crop farming to a much healthier and safer model. The well-being of her young son and of her soon-to-be-born child are paramount, and she felt uneasy at the thought of them having to grow up surrounded by, and having also to consume, harmful chemicals. Since transitioning over to organic farming just over a year ago, Aashwini confirms that, “we eat only fresh fruits and vegetables and many more different kinds than we ever did before. Also, our percentage of sickness has greatly decreased - we feel stronger and never get sick. My son also eats more vegetables and he actually really likes eating them!”