Lal Mesa lives in the village of Bedo Matio, nestled in the forested hills the eastern corner of Jharkhand State India. Lal is barely literate, but progressive and quickly put into practice new farming methods taught by Tearfund Canada and India partner agency EFICOR, with support from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. 6 years later Lal explains how this community economic empowerment program has changed his life!
“I used to broadcast my seed, but they showed us that is wasteful. Now I plant my crops with proper spacing. The pigeon pea variety they arranged for us is a short-season variety but high yielding. So that is becoming a cash crop too. We now store our grain seed in a seed store where the pests are controlled, so the seed is reliable. Now I grow quite a few horticulture crops also, like turmeric, ginger, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, chilli, different kinds of gourds, and pumpkin. Plus fruit trees, like guava, mango Jackfruit, litchi, and ‘mahua.’”
Today, the hilltops of Bedo Matio are well forested – all green as far as the eye can see, in sharp contrast to days gone by. According to Lal, the whole community is reaping the benefits.
“Our forest is getting thicker, and people are planting trees for fruit and timber by the village. I’m teaching some of my neighbours how to plant trees, and crops; and we are all seeing good results from our efforts.”