By Sophie Preece, second year Pearson Business School student
Sophie is currently in India, working on the 'Once Upon a Doug' project, as part of her course.
We’ve now spent a second day at Chetana Vikas with the women. It has been another hot but very useful and insightful day.
After an early breakfast and a 2 hour bus ride we spent the morning with Niranjana Maru clarifying the agricultural issues that the farming community are facing. There were 3 core problems which include:
- A decrease in the soil fertility caused by the use of GM seeds.
- The cost of buying hybrid seeds and the fertilizers and insecticides required to cultivate them is very high, if the crop fails then this cost cannot be recouped causing farmers to fall into debt often with loan sharks.
- Pests that destroy the crops have built up resistence to the Green Revolution Technologies (GRT) and therefore crops still fail at times despite the high cost invested in pesticides and insecticide.
The weather also plays a huge part in the success of the harvest with farmers experiencing droughts over the last two years. The fact that many farmers cannot afford efficient irrigation systems further contribute to a poor harvest.
After this Niranjana took us on a quick tour of the Chetana Vikas plantation which they use to teach farmers efficient methods to deal with the change in the ecological system. We then got the opportunity to try making some Dougs with the women. It was a lot harder then it looks! This was a great session to understand the process better and engage with the women more. A definite highlight of the trip.
After lunch we spent the afternoon with the women again, playing games and discussing how the project helps them personally. We asked them what they use the money for that they make from Dougs. Most of the women spoke of how it gave them greater independence (they are no longer fully reliant on their husbands). They put the money towards their children’s education as well as providing more financial stability. The women also provided some suggestions of what could be improved about the project such as ensuring a continuous stable income, something which we were working towards and committed to achieving.
Overall it has been a busy and insightful day. The women helped to answer the many questions we had which will aid us in the planning the future of the project. In terms of next steps, the time in Goa will be used to take everything we’ve learned and discussed and developing that into a long term strategy for the project to ensure it is scalable and sustainable.