Outside Banubai and Dansingh’s back door runs a pipe. It’s a water supply that’s stretching to the far reaches of their land. Until recently this bit of the field was barren, but with the additional income they have since switching to organic they’ve been able to invest in developing their farm.
Banubai explains: “Before, when we were doing chemical farming I had to go to the market to buy chemical pesticides, but now I make natural pesticides at home. With the money I am saving, I am cultivating more vegetables on our land.” She learnt how to make the organic fertilisers and pesticides at a women’s group run by C&A Foundation partner Agha Khan Foundation. There are 10 members of the group and already eight have converted to organic.
As well as learning new farming techniques, the group pools small amounts of money so they can operate a microloan scheme to support each other. It was via this loan system that Banubai was able to invest in the irrigation pipes needed to make sure all their land is viable. Now, while her husband Dansingh focuses on the cotton farming, Banubai is developing their vegetable business. She is growing maize, black gram, red gram, soya bean, okra, turmeric, chillies and aubergines.
The increased profits from the vegetable production means she will have paid off her interest free loan in just one year. Had she borrowed the money for the pipe from a traditional money lender she would have had to pay it back with 60% interest.
It’s not just the family’s financial health that’s improving since the switch to organic, it’s their physical health too. Banubai describes the better tasting vegetables and says the family very rarely get sick anymore and no longer visit the hospital.