Manita Ruat - Senior Research Officer, IWMI; Fraser Sugden - Senior Professor Human Geography, University of Birmingham; Ram Kumari Chaudhary - Chairperson, Woman empowering farmer group, Shambunath Municipality 2 - Saptari;
collective farming agriculture small-holder livelihood landless marginal farmers shared benefits agricultural crops sharing irrigation infrastructure Saptari District ACIAR improve water use Eastern Gangetic increase income onions tomatoes gourds DSI4MTF (Dry season irrigation for marginalized tenant farmers) improve livelihood share pumps
21 December 21
Between 2015 and 2019, a set of farmer collectives were piloted in DSI4MTF and served as a model for a novel approach to addressing the challenges of small and fragmented holdings in the Eastern Gangetic Plains, unequal landlord-tenant relations, and severe irrigation access constraints faced by marginal and tenant farmers. The collectives approach entailed the formation of small groups of 4-10 farmers who cultivate a contiguous piece of land and collaborate in various ways in land preparation, production, and marketing. This documentary demonstrates how the collective method enables farmers to overcome technical and socio-institutional constraints to increase year-round cropping intensity using an integrated strategy that addresses both technical and socio-institutional constraints. Irrigation has been made possible with the installation of electric and solar boreholes, but critically, the cultivation of a large contiguous plot of land via the collective approach has made irrigation more practical and efficient – overcoming the challenge of fragmented holdings. Twinning the formation of collectives with the assistance of such agricultural machinery/technology, has enabled resource-poor and landless farmers to farm all year round. Furthermore, farmer collectives have comparatively improved farmers' negotiating power, allowing them to negotiate cheaper rents and defy traditional feudal responsibilities.