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Cultivating prosperity

With determination and hardwork, Shivakka transformed her degraded land into a land that gives rich harvests. Green farming, integrating enterprises and sustainable agriculture practices have led to this wonderful transformation. Today, Shivakka’s wadi model is an inspiration to many.

The story of Mrs. Shivakka Kurubar, a resident of Bogenagarakoppa village, illustrates the empowerment process. During late 90s, Kurubar’s family was experiencing severe poverty. They had four kids to be looked after. Their 7.16 acre agriculture land was located on a hillock, heavily degraded, infested with lots of pebbles.  Mr. Basappa, Shivakka’s husband was working as a porter in Hubli town. Every day he used to leave the village at 7 am and return late night. He earned Rs. 200-400/- per day. With poor transport facilities, had to go walking 5kms every day.

Women visit Shivakka's farm
Women visit Shivakka’s farm

When the family had abandoned the degraded land, Shivakka saw a hope when BAIF interacted with her. Infact her husband had made a deal to sell off the land. But determined to practice farming with BAIF’s support, Shivakka managed to stop the land from being sold. Later, Shivakka joined the SHG group, was a quick learner, participated actively in meetings, training events and discussions. Initially, the members used to put thumb impression.  They learnt to sign when the field officers smartly motivated them, by telling them that they would get loans with a signature only. This was the beginning of Shivakka’s journey in becoming literate. Soon she handled SHG books of accounts along with her friend Mrs. Halavva.

Greening the farm

Shivakka was involved in micro-planning for her farm along with her husband.  They choose to grow twenty saplings of Alfonso mango, 20 sapota and planted 1200 forestry seedlings which included teak, acacia, eucalyptus, and glyricidia. They were planted all along the border and in a block of 1.5 acre land. They also cultivated Stylohamata fodder, constructed trench cum bunds and a farm pond, for soil and water conservation. They erected a fence to protect the farm from stray cattle.  Even, one borewell was dug to support irrigation.

BAIF’s intervention between 1997 to 2004 in Dharwad impacted the farming families positively . Initially the project area in Dharwad cluster was 10 villages, which later got extended to 22 villages. To begin with, baseline surveys and PRAs were conducted followed by maintaining a Family Information Register (FIR), The register helped in short listing the farmers, based on their poverty status, willingness, suitability of their farms for initiating tree based farming. BAIF field staff were interacted regularly as well as intensively with farming families to prepare micro planning based on each family’s needs. Both husband and wife of the farm family were involved in planning. The plans included, deciding on where to construct bunds, farm ponds, which horticulture and forestry species to be planted, etc.

Farmers were organised into self help groups, met weekly, contributed Rs.5-10 per member per week. Besides maintaining the book of accounts, the groups were also responsible for disbursing loans to members and organising inputs. Guided by field guides, the groups could build a common fund, and a strong value system. Besides savings and credit and farming operations, the groups were also trained on aspects which impact their quality of life – like use of bio-gas plants, smokeless chullas, health, nutrition and gender aspects.


Tree farming

Shivakka and her husband took care of the horticultural plants.  While Basappa made basin preparation,  Shivakka shaped the basin, applied compost and mulch and did the watering. Pot irrigation was practiced. About 15kgs of compost and 1 kg of salt was applied during each monsoon, for each plant. Gradually, the increased work load was shared by the members of the family. Basappa took 2 days off from his porter work for sharing the work load initially, but, gradually got fully involved in agriculture operations. After three years, mango flowers appeared and 4th year onwards fruiting started.  First fruiting season was very exciting for the family.  The fruits were distributed among field staff, relatives and friends.   Subsequent year, they started selling the mango produce. On an average every year, 20 trees yielded Rs. 8000/- worth harvest. During sapota season, if the local Hubli market is down, Shivakka and her husband take the harvest to Kundapur market. Sapota yields twice a year. Once it starts, it bears fruits for three months. Every day, two baskets of fruits are taken in the bus, each basket weighing 15 kg and fetching Rs. 500 to 800/-.  The total earnings from Sapota are around 10,000/- per annum while mango fetches Rs.8000/per annum. Shivakka never uses any artificial ripening agents.

Harvesting from intercrops

In one acre of low lying land beneath the hillock, local variety of paddy is being grown.  Six to eight bags of paddy worth Rs. 800/- per bag i.e, Rs. 5600/- is harvested. However, since 3 years, the land is being used for cultivating maize.  Shivakka handles sowing, planting, weeding and harvesting. The details of yields and incomes from various crops is given in Table 1.During the gestation period of tree growing, the family cultivated vegetables and seasonal crops as intercrops.  Black eyed bean, jowar, tomato, chilly, brinjal are grown as intercrops. The surpluses are sold after keeping for home consumption, except cluster beans, ridge gourd and bitter gourd, which are grown for home consumption only.  Shivakka herself goes to nearby markets like Hubli, Mishrikoti, Kalaghatagi for selling vegetables and fruits.

Sl. No. Crops Yield (kg) Income (Rs.)
1 Black eyed bean 50 1250
2 Jowar 300-400 4200
3 Brinjal 300 3000
4 Tomato 400 2800
5 Other vegetables 3000
6 Maize 2000 50000
7 Soyabean 7000 15400
Total 79650

Integrating livestock

The family had one local cow, which yielded 2 litres of milk per day. While 250 ml was retained for home consumption, the remaining was sold.  During 2010, one pair of bullock worth Rs. 15,000/- and buffalo worth Rs. 11,000/- were purchased.  Now the family is able to sell around 3 litres of milk every day, at Rs. 30/- per litre, fetching around, Rs.11250/- per annum.  Farm waste, paddy husk, cotton seed, soyabean, waste flour from mill etc., serve as fodder source.  The cattle shed waste is being recycled as compost for fertilising their land.

Income per year (Rs.)

Women learnt to sign when they were told to do so for getting loans, thus marking the beginning of the  journey in becoming literate.


Shivakka’s wadi model is attracting hundreds of farmers. Today she earns more than a lakh rupees from her land. She also serves as community resource person for BAIF’s Grama Chetana Training Centre, guiding patiently several farmers. She still actively attends SHG meetings, though her newly constructed house is away from the village. She utilised the savings for the marriage of two daughters and for constructing a farm house. She vividly remembers her past and is deeply grateful to the field staff, Mr. Deepak Ksheerasagar from BAIF who guided her empowerment process.

Ganga Ankad
Research Officer,
No. 2, BAIF Office,
Kusum Nagar 11th Cross,
Kelgeri Road, Dharwad – 580 008
E-mail: gangaankad@birdk.org.in; ganges2010@gmail.com