Sarita Devi joined WAFD in 2012 when she learnt of the benefits she would gain from the association. The first few benefits were the free ‘rajma’ (kidney bean) seeds she got for sowing in her farm, learning the right method to grow vegetables and herbs in a kitchen garden, and knowledge about practising organic farming. Though Sarita Devi does not have any animals or a compost basket, she uses organic compost when cultivating crops, thereby improving the fertility of the soil. She gets the organic compost from those who have surplus in exchange for the dry grass meant for fodder. Bartering may sound primitive however for these women it is a fitting solution. She uses the compost primarily for the vegetables and herbs she grows in her polyhouse.
Sarita Devi’s polyhouse
The polyhouse is a smaller and economical version of a greenhouse. The structure is made from bamboo and covered with plastic sheets. Sarita Devi is one of the select few who got a polyhouse made from WAFD. She has had it since February 2015 and in a single year has noticed the benefits of growing vegetables and herbs in a polyhouse.
Apart from offering protection against the elements, a polyhouse’s greatest benefit is that it eliminates the dependency on seasons. Sarita Devi opens the door of the polyhouse to show how the crops growing inside it are much better.
She points to the ‘rai’ (mustard) growing outside in the kitchen garden and the one growing inside the polyhouse and explains the difference. The crops that are sown in the polyhouse grow faster and are better. Organic farming had already shown her the improvement in crop quantity and quality. The polyhouse has taken it a step further. Capsicum would never grow well in her kitchen garden, or if the plants did grow then they would not bear fruit. In the polyhouse however, the capsicum thrived. She has also grown coriander, spinach, brinjal, carrots, and ‘rai’ (mustard) in the polyhouse.
Inside the polyhouse
She is looking forward to the polyhouse training that will take place in the coming months to learn the right method of using a polyhouse. Though the crops in the polyhouse have been growing really well, Sarita Devi is well aware that to make use of its full potential, she needs to attend the training.
The ‘rai’ bed in the kitchen garden