Savita Vithoba Shinde
Total of five members in household Three sons aged 16, 18, 20 Antroli Village, Solapur Two- acre farm “If SSP did not ever connect with me then I would still just be a housewife working on a small farm, but because of them I am where I am today - I have purpose.”
Prior to making a connection with SSP, Savita was growing onion, corn, wheat, jowar, brinjal, tomato, cucumber, spinach, and fenugreek on her land, and was using a mix of both chemical and organic production methods. At the time, she also owned 2 cows, 2 buffaloes, 4 goats and some chickens (the by-products of which were consumed within the household alone), while also running a joint milk business.
When she began her training with SSP in 2016, she first learned about the negative effects of using chemicals on her crops, in particular about how their use can decrease the PH levels of soil, make it more dry and tough, and decrease overall production levels. Through her training, she also learned just how harmful ingesting chemicals are to the human body. This knowledge of the many detrimental impacts of chemical farming pushed her to make the decision to stop using chemicals altogether on her land and now she is farming 100% organically.
SSP’s trainings also provided Savita with the knowledge and know-how to begin her own vermicomposting system. She has since created two vermicompost beds (fertilized by cow dung), which provide her with a rich and completely organic fertilizer that aids in plant growth and overall soil health. Additionally, she has learned how to prepare her own vermiwash organic pesticide, completely eliminating her dependency on chemical inputs, thereby further saving her money. As a result of the use of these organic methods, Savita reports a noticeable increase in soil health and overall quality.
Before working with SSP Savita estimated that she was spending roughly INR 200 – 300 each month at the market to purchase food for her family; however, since making the switch from chemical to organic farming, she has increased the variety of crops she grows and, in addition to the vegetables that she was initially producing, is now also cultivating moth beans, moong dal, toor dal, udad dal, chana dal, green peas, bitter gourd, wheat, jowar, and soya beans. Additionally, before beginning her training with SSP Savita was only producing milk at home; however, after being provided information on how to safely process milk to make different dairy products like curd and ghee, she then became equipped to produce these items herself. This increase in crop variety and dairy production skills has effectively eliminated the need for her to purchase food items from external sources, thereby saving her money while also allowing her and her family to eat a higher quality and more well-balanced diet.
The connection between growing organically and her family’s health and well-being is very apparent to Savita. She claims that after having begun farming organically, the quality, taste and amount of fresh vegetables in her and her family’s daily diets has increased significantly. Additionally, severity and frequency of sickness in her family have lowered so much that they no longer need to spend money going to the doctor. In fact, when she was still using chemicals on her farm, she reported having to visit the doctor once or twice a month, whereas now her and her family members are so rarely unwell that they almost never have to seek medical care. Beyond the positive impacts of growing and consuming organically produced foods, SSP’s training on health and sanitation gave Savita information on a number of valuable practices such as how to ensure safe drinking water and how to properly reuse waste water.
Lastly, Savita has also been able to increase her earning capacity as a result of her work with SSP. In fact, since connecting with SSP she began her own poultry and goat-farming business. Now, she sells about 25 eggs every day, earning her roughly INR 3,750 per month, and also owns generates a total of INR 42,000 in annual income due to the success of her goat-farming business.
In Savita’s opinion, the most valuable thing that SSP has given her is the opportunity and confidence to learn and do new things that she would not have otherwise had the chance to do. For example, working with SSP gave her the ability to travel to other villages to continue her training. Once she had completed her training, she began sharing her knowledge by training other women. SSP also provided Savita with some training to improve her writing skills, which she now puts to use as a media sakhi to write and publish stories about women in her village. So far, she has had 7 stories published in various newspapers and magazines. Her work is also included in SSP’s book of “success stories” which is published every 3 months. Lastly, her nomination for the Unnati Fellowship in 2018/2019 is another testament to the immense personal growth and development that she was able to achieve as a result of working with SSP.