Sunday, November 17, 2019


Organic Farming Project 2019-20 :

Supported by ERM, a project titled Women for Greens - Improving Livelihood of Marginalised Rural Women By Providing Training & Support to Cultivate The Fallow Land has been initiated in a cluster of villages in Poorvi Singbhum district in Jharkhand.  The project aims to :

- Help the local women to take up farming as an occupation and a means of livelihood.

- Motivate them to utilize the available fallow land through land reclamation techniques
using organic methods.

- Build access to the government support programmes that provide seeds, saplings and other farming related support.

- Improve green cover which results in improved access to produce like fruits, additional fodder for livestock, mulch for farming and firewood.

The project expects the following outcomes:

- Village based women of marginal section will become full-fledged farmers and have an additional means of livelihood.

- Fallow land will be utilized resulting in increase of green cover, in turn providing additional value to the women farmers

This effort is already progressed well. To begin with there has been a Training organized for the village women leaders and Swadhina field volunteers, to create knowledge base on Organic Farming. Thereafter with the help of these human resources the work in the field started and has now taken a good pace. The work has the following aspects:

1.      Creation of Organic Manure Pits
2.      Reclamation of Fallow land
3.      Farming on these land
Organic Manure Pit

Land needs food, and, not chemicals. Use and over use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides may in

the short run give more crop production, but the process also de-grade the quality of the land as the process kills the food for the land. That means that the land that give us food is not getting its own food. We need to replenish food for the land, so that the quality of the land is upgraded. Organic Manure, prepared in the natural way can provide appropriate food for the land.

How these are being done:
A pit is dug, 4’ x 3’ x 3’ of size or nearer the size, depending on the place or available space. This Organic Manure Pit is then filled with a layer of cow dung, a layer of soft soil, leaves - green or dried ones, broken plant branches, straws, plant recedues and anything that is natural. Thus several layers are laid. After some weeks the manure is ready. After tilling the land this manure is used before planting the seedlings.

 Land Reclamation
The area of our project is drought prone. This is basically forest area and inhabitants are primarily tribal and other backward caste communities. This is a forest and hilly region, and hence landless-ness is not the issue. Topographically the land is divided into four categories.

Tad, -the upper most layer, hilly-stony-dry sloaps with almost zero water-retention capacity.

Baid, - the next lower rung, mostly used for cultivation purpose during rainy season.

Kanali – Lower level land, has water retention, and can be used even during moderate dry period. Ideal for plantation of the type of crops requiring less irrigation water.

Bohal- very low land normally remain inundated during rainy season, but can be beneficial  during drought period.

Fallow land is the Tad land for which the land reclamation is done. This means clearing the stony and  hard soil. The tilling is hard, and, at times difficult for the bullock-supported ploughing. Our
effort is to bring in the Tad Land into agriculture use thus augmenting enhanced income for the family. Moreover, our aim is to involve women in this agricultural development effort so that women become prime actors in the field. This of course stand out as greening of earth and thus support the cause of environment sustenance. 

Here are the glimpses of the Land Reclamation effort:

Encouragement is provided to plant easily manageable items, also looking at the demands of the local markets. Also emphasis is laid on cultivating plants which help in nitrogen fixation on the soil like various forms of beans, lintels, grams etc.

 Chasing the Dream !!
Regular interaction is done with each woman involved in the programme. This is basically to learn about the final objective of them - what is the dream they are chasing as a result of the effort they are putting in. 
Very interesting observations are recorded:
-       Some wish to use the money thus earned on the education development of their children,
-       Some want to put the money in the savings in their own bank account
 Some want to repair and renovate the house roofing.
Wish them Every Best !!   
Those Who Dared to Dream

Here are the stories of some brave hearts who dared to plunge into the journey.

1.Sabitri Mahato:
She has a small family - Sabitri, her husband and two sons. The elder one has just completed college studies and the other one is just admitted in a college. They live in Hurumbil village and this is one of the rare scenario where there are two college going children  in a family !

Sabitri has reclaimed one Bigha (about half of an acre) of fallow land, prepared an Organic Manure Pit. She has planted Tomatoes in the reclaimed land and is expecting at least 20 quintals of produce and can sale it for about Rs. 16000/-. They plan to repair and renovate their house with that money.

2. Astami Mahato
She lives in Hurumbil with her mother. Astami lost her father at an early age some years ago.  She did not marry and she gets a Government stipend of Rs. 1000/- per month. She has reclaimed 2 bighas of fallow land and has also dug an organic manure pit.

She has planted Kulathi lentils in the reclaimed land. She expects about 40 kgs of lintel which will help her family in food security.

She is aware that this particular plants will help in improving land quality, and hence for next crop she can plant good profitable item.

3.Sharmila Hansda
she belongs to Hutupathar, a Santhal tribe village. She has a small family with husband and two sons. Both the children study in primary school. Sharmila and her husband occasionally go for daily wage-earning work as farm-hands whenever available. They have dug an organic manure pit and reclaimed 2 bighas of land. They planted tomatoes which they expect to fetch 30 quintals, which would give them about  Rs. 24000/-. They have two rooms house. One room is yet to have good roofing and they plan to go for tile roofing with the money they would get from the earning.

4.Kalyani Mahato
She lives in Hurumbil with her husband and two children. Her husband is well educated but could not secure a job which will earn money for the family.

Daughter is appearing for School Final Exam and the son studies in fifth standard. They have sent the daughter for good schooling at a far off place called Dharampur who stays at a relative’s house. This is encouraging since not many family would put in so much time and effort for   education of a girl-child. She has prepared an Organic Manure  Pit and reclaimed 1 bigha of fallow land. She has planted tomatoes and she expects this effort would yield 13 quintals of tomatoes. She would get about 10000/-rupees. She plans to put the money thus earned as savings in her bank account.

5.Sajani Mandi
She is from the Santhal tribe village of Hutupathar. She lives with her husband and two sons.
Both the sons studied up to high school. They all survive primarily by doing daily-wage earning jobs in the village, i.e. whenever available. They have prepared an organic manure pit and reclaimed 2 bighas of land. Tomatoes have been planted and they expect at least 25000/- after selling the produce next month.                                                        
The programme has taken a good momentum, despite untimely rainfall and we record our sincere appreciation for our field volunteers and the village women group leaders. They have indeed put in hard work and moved in a planned way. We plan to bring in our next progress report around end of this year.                                                                                     

Diptendu Mukerji

Saturday, November 16, 2019


Seeking your Blessings: Children’s Day 2019

Every year Swadhina makes specil efforts to organize significant event for the Chidren’s Day. On the 14th November, this year, we organized this event in five locations, in Poorvi Singbhum district in Singbhum state – Latia, Dungridih Dhabani, Kanku,  Chirudih, Hurumbil.
The children held rallies in the villages, visited village elders , touched their feet and chanted together “We seek your blessings on this special day, bless us that we grow to become good human beings”.

Hurumbil village. This is a village near Katin, a small town in Patamdah block, about 50 kilometers away from Jamshedpur. Here about fifty gathered together , at 8 o’clock in the and Padayatra (village march) held. They were singing “Hum Hongey Kamyaab” (hind version of We Shall Overcome) during the march. They first came to the house of Dr. Sahebram Gope – a local health practitioner. They came one by one and touched the feet of the doctor and said the words seeking his blessings. They then came to the houses of Ananda Mahato -a local elder, Laduram Mahato -a local vet and Jayanti Mahato – a local social worker. The elders were happy and they presented a pen as gift to each child. At the end of this rally each child was given a packet of biscuits.

Latiya village is about 5 kilometers away from the mining town Mosaboni. It is very interior
village and Swadhina has a village centre. About 40 children of this centre gathered at 8 hrs and thereafter they had their Padayatra across the village singing “Hum hongey kamyaab”. They reached the home of Sri Bhabataran Mahali the head-master of the local primary school. Here they touched the feet of their dear “Sir” and he blessed the

children by touching their head. Likewise they visited elder farmers of the village Sri Chukka Mahali. After this the children took the blessing of three senior women farmers – Uma get-together where some of them recited poems, sang songs and danced with recorded music. It was indeed a very joyous moment. At the end each child was given a packet of biscuits. The event was organized by the able Swadhina programme associate Ms. Papiya Shama.

Dhabani Dungridih is small village located near Shantinagar. About 20 children of the local Swadhina Good Hope School gathered at the school premises at about 8.30 hrs. Programme here was
at the school room. The venue was decorated nicely with colour papers and balloon which provided the needed festive ambience. There was a cultural function and everyone participated by singing song, reciting poems, dancing with music recorded on mobile phone. This programme was conducted by Ms. Madhumita Sarkar which was her very first programme. Every child was presented with a pack of biscuits.  

Chirudih village is located about 15 kilometers from Paatamdah Block office. About 40 children gathered at 9 hrs for the programme. They participated in the opening song “Manush to ekdin jagbey jagbey” –meaning people will arise and be awakened, and, together they can bring the social change if there is an all-round development in the village. Three elderly women farmers were there who blessed the children. At the end of the marching, the children gathered at the Swadhina Tuition centre where Ms. Basumati Mahato, the organizer of the even explained to the children the significance of

the Children’s Day. Thereafter some of the children joined in an entertainment programme wherein they performed songs, dances and recitation of poems. At the end of the event the children were given a snacks packets containing biscuits.

Kanku  Village is located in a remote corner of the Poorvi district bordering West Bengal state. A gettogether was organized at the Swadhina Tuition Centre. The programme started at 9 hrs.
with participants lighting candles. Thereafter special guests Sri Kirtibas Mahato and Shibani

Mahato explained to the children the significance of the Children Day. The venue was well decorated with flowers collected locally. There was a cultural function held thereafter. There were recitation of poems, singing and dancing in the function. The programme was convened by Swadhina work associate Rupali Mahato. In all 40 children were present. At the end of the programme every participant was given a packet of biscuits.

Diptendu Mukerji

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


A one day thematic  workshop was held for the project “Women for Greens - improving livelihood of marginalised rural women by providing training and support to cultivate their fallow land” for the trainers, field volunteers and supervisors of the project supported by ERM-India. This was held on September 1, 2019 at the Marwari Dharamshala Auditoriam at Ghatsila, East Singbhum, Jharkhand.

The participants arrived in the morning and the session began at 8.45 hours with a group song “Manush to ekdin jaagbei…tumi noy aaami noy…” (If all are socially aware and work on the development issues, there would be change… but we must work together in unity)

After the initial self introduction of the participants the first session was conducted by the experienced resource person Sri Diptendu Mukherji who is a renowned environment and rural development expert. He said “on simple term, organic way of agriculture means avoiding chemical fertilizer and chemical pesticides, and, instead use natural manure and pesticides. Plants and trees are providing us food for all, but they have lost their own food. Plants and trees get food from the earth- meaning the soil. But due to over use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides we have killed many natural food of the soil that the plant use for their own survival and growth. The only solution is to re-fill, rejuvenate and replenish the lost food to the soil. We will have to explain these issues to the villagers in simple terms in the language they understand easily, with using lot of pictures and other audio-visual media including songs, street theatres, posters, flash cards.

Ms. Saswati Roy Patnaik, Secretary Swadhina explained about the various aspects of the present project documents which was translated into local language and all participants were given copies. She explained that the project has the following components:
- training women leaders of the villages on the need for safeguarding environment by stressing more on organic farming so that various forms of pollution can be tackled.
- promoting compost pits in every house hold for preparing organic manure by using natural and easily procurable ingredients like cow-dung, dried leaves, kitchen waste and and anything that are degradable.
- reclaiming fallow land and bringing them under dry farming, fodder cultivation, fruit cultivation, sabai grass (used to make ropes)
- making full use of various Govt. Schemes that are geared to agro-development for which local Swadhina WRC (Womens Resource Centre) are to conduct awareness training on existing and the forthcoming various Govt. Scheme documents.

Ms. Smriti Sarkar, Swadhina senior trainer conducted a detailed training sessions with the help of 3 Study Booklets which were prepared for the use of this project in all the target villages soon.

Study Booklet 1: “Organic Farming: A Brief Orientation”
This is a nine page (A-4 size) documents in Bengali providing brief introduction to the subject. It  stressed that the basis of Organic Farming is to create cycle for plant nutrient, by using various  natural ways. The booklet also provided ideas on low cost manure and how to get rid of various pests in a most environment friendly. In our hurried attempt to kill pests we have contaminated our soil with harmful toxic materials, and, thus created long-term damage to the soil, and, thereby placed our plants to face the danger.

Study Booklet 2: “Organic Pesticide”
This is a seven page (A 4 size) document in Bengali which provides first hand idea of using locally available ingredients like Neem, Wood-apple and many locally available leaves and seeds in the forests. Use of every-day kitchen items like Garlic, Red Chilies and so on.

Study Booklet 3: “Organic Fertilizers” 
This is fourteen page (A 4 size) document in Hindi on organic fertilizers. It has a straight forward approach: chemical fertilizer & pesticides brings categorical harm: 
-it damages the soil, 
-the produce is less is taste and nutrition, 
-harmful for human health, 
-ever expensive for the farmers, and fore most
- harmful for environment. 
While chemical fertilizers and pesticides is a dependant system, for, one can not make it. Where as Organic way is easy, because the farmers can easily make organic fertilizers and pesticides at home. The booklet clearly explains ways to prepare several plant nutrients by using simple items like rotten fruits, jaggery, rice water, ginger, garlic and so on.

During the post lunch session, Sri Prabir Sarkar, experienced in organic farming, explained the know-how of making and use of compost pit.

Some of the village leaders present narrated their own limited experience in organic farming and showed keen interest in learning more through the forthcoming training programme to be conducted in their respective locations.

The programme came to a close with the participants singing together Tagore song “Aguner Parash Moni Chhoao Praney” ( Let the light glow on us).


1. Ms. Alochana Mahato, Indatara, Poorvi Singbhum
2. Ms. Rupali Mahato, Kanku, Poorvi Singbhum
3. Ms. Jayanti Mahato, Hurumbil, Poorvi m
4. Ms. Daupadi Mahato, Hurumbil, Poorvi Singbhum
5. Ms. Papiya Sharma, Latiya, Poorvi Singbhum
6. Ms. Madhumita Sarkar, Mosaboni, Poorvi Singbhum
7. Ms. Tapasi Sahis, Kuchia, Poorvi Singbhum
8. Ms. Sarala Hembram, Layadih, Poorvi Singbhum
9. Ms. Basumati Mahato, Chirudih, Poorvi Singbhum
10. Ms. Rina Acharjee, Purulia, West Bengal
11. Mr. Banka Bihari Mahato, Geruala, Poorvi Singbhum
12.Mr. Laduram Mahato, Hurumbil, Poorvi Singbhum
13. Mr. Sanjay Mahato, Chirudih, Poorvi Singbhum
14. Mr. Prabir Sarkar, Resource Person, Mosaboni, Poorvi Singbhum
15. Ms. Saswati Roy Patnaik, (Secretary-Swadhina) Poorvi Singbhum
16. Mr. Diptendu Mukherji, Resource Person, Kolkata
17. Ms. Smriti Sarkar, Resource Person, Kolkata

Diptendu Mukherji

Monday, June 10, 2019


Since inception, in 1986, the Environment Day has a special place in the life of Swadhina. Every year we observe this day in remote village areas with women leaders and children. This year too, we observed this day on June 5 in Jharkhand in four locations.

Hurumbil, Patamdah, East Singbhum
Here the programme was mainly for children. We have an Education Support Centre here where about 30 children come every day in the centre for strengthening their quest for school education, beyond school hours.

Around 9 in the morning these children, along with other children of the village, gathered at the open space in front of the Centre. Ms. Jayanti Mahato was conducting the programme here. She explained to the children the significant of the day and told them about the various facets of pollution - soil and water pollution due to irresponsible use of chemical pesticides, environment hazards due to indiscriminate felling of fores trees and the danger of ever dwindling number of various birds - many of them are on the verge of extinction.

Thereafter they joined in a painting programme on environment- whatever they see around them.

Kanku, Patamdah, East Singbhum
At 12 noon the programme here started with a group song. Abount 20 membes of
Swadhina Village Women Group joined in the session. The discussion was mainly on use of plastics. Ms. Rupali Mahato, the Swadhina volunteer spoke on the subject. She felt that the use of plastic even in this remote area is on the increase at an alarming rate. She explained that plastic is one of the most known enemy of environment, as this does not get dissolved in the earth soil and hence remain buried for ages, thereby obstruct all forms of vegetation. This must be consciously stopped.
Thereafter there was a lively session on “our gift from nature” a participatory session wherein each participant named a few fruits or vegetables as the gift of nature towards fulfilling our nutritional needs. Some of them also narrated about the various recipes with those vegetables which became very interesting for all participants.

Chirudih, Patamdah, East Singbhum
At 9 a.m. the programme started here. 20 children, belonging to the Education Support Centre gathered here to attend a ‘sit and draw’ contest on Environment. Their drawings of fruits, trees, flowers, vegetables, hills, rivers were very nice. After this the conductor of the programme Ms. Basumati Mahato, the Swadhina volunteer, explained to them that nature has given us many things which in fact are basic part of our environment. We should all make effort to preserve them. We must plant trees to save our environment. Each child should plant atleast one important tree near her or his home like papaya, mango etc.

Latiya, Mosaboni, East Singbhum
Here the programme was conducted by Ms. Papia Sharma. About 30 children gathered around 10 in the morning. At the outset they were told about environment. It was said that animals and birds we see around us are all part of our environment. We must respect. Many of the children get excitement by throwing stones at a dog, or a cat or a bird ! This should stop. We should remember that every time we do this we make an onslought on our environment. We should love dog, cat and bird. This the children liked very much and many have said that they have small cows, goats and they love them very much !

Thereafter there was a sit-n-draw progamme for the children and there were many interesting entries !

Thursday, May 30, 2019


Yes, we should go back to the basics : Education”. 
Education brings progress, Education brings Change.

About an year ago we launched a programme called “ EUCATION SUPPORT CENTRES”, in several remote villages in Jharkhand.  The reasons behind was manifold:

Over the past years there had been certain infrastructural development as far as education is concerned. While there is still a long way to go for proper schooling of children the pace of education development at par with the available infrastructure is not proportionate. There are number of points that need to be looked into and correctional measures be adopted.

Drop Outs: Though in most cases there are schools established within manageable distance at the rural or village level, the children soon stop going to schools and thereby drop out. In most cases middle school students find the courses difficult to follow as their parents are not adequately educated to guide them.

Common Place of Study:  Secondly in most cases village children do not have space or educational atmosphere at home for doing the school home work.

Tuition Guidance: Thirdly the children do not get tutorial  guidance at the village level, unlike their counter parts in the city and towns who get excellent tuition beyond school hours. Hence there is a need to run school education support centers. In this effort, special emphasis is given to education supports towards girl-child.

The EDUCATION SUPPORT CENTRES are run in 6 places by Swadhina:

1. LATIA: This village is in Mosaboni Block, in East Singbhum district in Jharkhand amidst the copper mining area. The village is about 6 kilometers away from Mosaboni bus stand. Here the centre has 18 children (2 boys and 16 girls) 5 are from Class II, 5 study in Class III, 5 are from Class IV and 3 study in Class V.  Ms. Papiya Sharma is the tutor here.

2. BENASOL: This village is in Mosaboni Block, and, located in a forest region. It is about 7 kilometer away from Ghatsila Town in East Singbhum district in Jharkhand. This centre has 16 students, all girls. 5 are studying in Class VII, 6 are studying in Class VIII, 5 are studying in Class IX. Ms. Reshmi Soy is the tutor here. The local primary school has kindly offered a class room for this centre.

3. CHIRUDIH : This village is in Patamdah block in East Singbhum district in Jharkhand. It is about 15 kilometers away from the Block office. Patamdah is about 35 kilometers away from Tatanagar. There are 27 children (15 girls and 12 boys) attending the centre. 11 are from Class II, 9 are from Class III, 7 are from Class IV. Ms. Basumati Mahato is the tutor here.

4. KANKU : This village is about 4 kilometers away from Chirudih village. There are 21 students, all women. 6 are from Class V, 5 are from Class VI, 5 are from Class VII, 2 are from Class VIII and 3 students are from Class X. Ms. Rupali Mahato is the tutor here.

5. BONDIH : Here the centre is conducted in a room provided by the local School. There are 25 children attending the centre, 13 girls and 12 boys. 5 from Class II, 10 from Class III and 10 are from Class IV. Bondih is about 15 kilometers away from Patamdah. Sri Banka B Mahato is the tutor here.

6. HURUMBIL: This village is about 12 kilometers away from Patamdah block office. There are 17 students, all girls, attending the centre. 5 are from Class V, 6 are from Class IV, 6 are from Class III. Ms. Jayanti Mahato is the tutor here.

This programme is showing some definite results. We recently conducted an evaluation in all these centres to find out the progress of these children. The outcome is indeed encouraging.
- Every student in every subject of study has improved !
- This has definitely encouraged the students about their own studies and they are now putting more time for their studies.
- This has also made their parents very much happy to see that their children too can excel in their class exam !

Here are some highlights:

1. Apurba Mahato, studying in Chirudih in Class III. He belongs to a poor family, his is a marginal farmer family. His parents also work as daily-labourer. He has little sister.  Last year his over all score was 180 marks. This year he scored 320 marks. On individual subject he has remarkable improvement - in  Hindi he scored 40, but this year he got 80. Similarly in Mathematics too he scored double the marks than his last year’s score.

2. Sunita Mahato, studying in the same centre is a Class III student. She has an elder sister. She belongs to a marginal farmer family. When there is no work in the own field, her parents work as agricultural laborer on daily wage basis. Last year she scored 200 in overall rank. This year she scored 300. She too doubled her Hindi and Mathematics marks.

3. Annapurna Mahato, Chiirudih studying in the same class and she has a younger brother. She too belong to a marginal farmer family and her parents depend on daily wage work during the dull agricultural season.
She scored scored 200 in the
overall rank in the last year. This year she scored 300. In Bengali her score was 40 she doubled it this year. In Mathematics she scored 60, and this year she scored 80. In English she got 40 and this year she doubled her score.

4.Premlata Das studies in Class V in Hurumbil Education Support Centre. Her father is a mason on daily wage basis. She has two younger brothers. Going is tough as there is not much construction activities going on in the village. She scored 250, and this she improved the tally to 313. In Mathematics she s cored 39, but this year scored 55. In Hindi scored 35 and this year she got 51. In English she scored 38, and this year she could get 50.

5.Sangeeta Mahato is in Class V in the same centre. She belongs to a marginal farmer family. Mother sometimes go out to work as daily labour in agriculture field. She
has an elder brother and a younge brother. Last year her overall score was 253 and this she could improve it to 323. In Bengali she could score 46 and this year she scored 53. In Social Science last year she scored 38, and this year she scored 55. In Mathematics last year she could score 47, and, this year she score 58. In Hindi this year she scored 52 while her marks in this subject was 42.

6.Monika Mahato is in Hurumbil centre and she studies in Class IV. She belongs to a marginal farmer family. She has a younger sister. Her overall score was 265. This year she could get 315. In Bengali secured 38 marks, and, this year she could master 47. In Social Studies she scored 35 in last year, and, this year scored 50. In English she got 46 marks and this year she scored 56 marks.

7.Rupali Mahato also attend the same Hurumbil centre. She has two younger sisters and a younger brother. She is a Class III student who scored 256 on overall ranking. This year she got 308 in this count. In Hindi she scored 35 and this year she could get 53. In English, last time, she got 40 marks and this year scored 55. Her father is road-side snacks seller.

8. Puja Mahato is in Class III. She has a younger sister. Father is daily wage earner. Mother earn some money through goat rearing. Last year her overall score was 227. This year she got 310 as overall marks. In Bengali she scored 39 last year. This year she got 54 in Bengali. In Mathematics, in the last year’s exam she scored 36, but this year she scored 51. In Hindi her last year’s marks was 35, and, this year she got 55.

- Diptendu Mukherji