Maize is a staple crop that requires a limited amount of water and inputs, and earns farmers a profit, thanks to its growing demand as food and feed for livestock. Adivasi women farmers in Odisha are increasing maize yields by applying improved maize intensification technologies.
Indigenous women play an important role in reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition and promoting social and economic development. There are an estimated 370-500 million indigenous people in the world, spread across 90 countries. They live in all geographic regions and represent 5,000 different cultures. Hill Kharia, belonging to the Primitive Tribal Group classification of the Indian Government, live on the fringes of Similipal Tiger Reserve, located in Mayurbhanj, Odisha. They are very close to nature and the tribe’s culture is influenced by its ecological and cultural surroundings.
Adivasi women farmers in Gudugudia have been mobilized into self-help groups and exposed to a variety of agricultural development initiatives. As a part of OPELIP, 15 women members from four different self-help groups (i.e., Om Sairam, Maa Sarawati, Maa Sarawati and Jayabadam SHG) joined hands to cultivate hybrid maize, the first time improved maize hybrids were grown in their area.
Using improved maize hybrids, precision nutrient management techniques and improved weed management practices has helped the women increase their yields. This year the group harvested more than 33 quintals from seven acres of land. After keeping some green cob and dry grain for their household use, the rest was sold, netting them INR 52,000 (USD 730). They were able to keep their profits because OPELIP covered the cost of inputs; after selling their surplus, members split part of the income and the remaining profit was added to their corpus fund.
Vedachalam DakshinaMurthy, Wasim Iftikar, CIMMYT