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With growing challenges from climate, soy farmers in central India are only getting stronger

A farmer’s plight through the ups and downs of agricultural dynamism is best illustrated by their ability to hold on to their profession. Jagdish Gurjar’s story is one that reminds us of every farmer across central India who strives for perfection regardless of the challenges that farming as a profession may bring.

India, where more than 50 per cent of its population is involved in a farming or farming-related profession, offers challenging conditions to its farmers especially in terms of low yields and climate-related issues.

Jagdish is 40-year-old farmer and lives in village Kundla Khurd of district Agar-Malwa, Madhya Pradesh. He sows an area of 7.5 acres and lives in a joint family with a wife and two children of his own. Jagdish is one of the lead farmers who has managed to challenge the odds. In almost four years of training under the programme Good Farming – Good Food, Jagdish has shown some outstanding results. He now follows the guidelines of Climate-Smart Agriculture. The practices focus on bringing changes in production technology and techniques.

Market penetration and the rising price of transportation add up to a farmer’s difficulties. Consequently, farmers like Jagdish are often stuck with little or no option with regards to the unforeseeable variables like dry spells. Coupled with the the nature-related challenges, soy farmers also face the issue of acquiring the right seeds for cultivation, and the availability of inferior quality has lately become a pressing issue for many farmers. Jagdish talks about the program’s initiative to tackle such problems-

Then programme stresses on seed treatment, seed inoculation and germination test. But most importantly they suggest us to buy the seeds from a verified and certified supplier and sow different variety at once. Many of the varieties are climate resilient as well. We use to suffer heavy losses back when we used just one of the variety. When sowing two or three variations together, if one fails, the other works as a contingency.

By adopting new training parameters, Jagdish is slowly increasing his production. New and improved sowing techiniques like Broadbed Furrow have also helped Jagdish save his crop from heavy rains and water logging. This small step towards soil conditioning has helped him lower the cost of production as well. Jagdish briefs about the rest-

They (Solidaridad instructors) stress on the usage of broad bed and furrow, which helps in maintaining right moisture by draining the excess water. We learned about the soil test, as well. The correct amount of urea, indigenously prepared bio-fertilisers, and the pesticides were explained to us in detail. Not just me, but everyone in my village benefitted from the guidance. Some of the well-known agronomist from Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (an established university by the Government of Madhya Pradesh) and Indian Institue of Soyabean Research, demonstrated new technologies. Solidaridad arranged these training courses for many farmers like me. We save in terms of using fewer fertilisers, and at the same time, we gain in terms of high yield.

Jagdish’s has committed to his memory, all the training that he received. He is now at the juncture where his experience equals to one that of a trainer.

Climate is a source of apprehension for many farmers in countries like India. With promising results from the new technologies and training exercises, farmers like Jagdish’ are setting a veritable example for the rest of the farmers. A few necessary tweaks to build crop resilience works like magic in the fields of Agar. Jagdish is by no means any less than a magician himself.