In a successful experiment by the help of NGO, Himalayan Action Research Centre (HARC) to ensure profitable cultivation in the hostile terrain of the hills of Garhwal where it is difficult to cultivate anything, women villagers have successfully adopted the farming of tulsi. The herb, which does not require much water or fertile land (and is also not eaten by animals), is now being cultivated and exported in bulk in its various forms.
Such has been the success of the tulsi cultivation that the project which started with 23 women of two villagers — which generated a total output of one metric ton — people of almost 40 villagers are involved in its cultivation now and are producing almost 500 metric ton of tulsi every year. Villagers say that tulsi cultivation has come as a ‘life-saver’ enabling them to stay on in their homes which otherwise they might have had to abandon and go to cities in search of employment.
Mahender Singh Kunwar, secretary HARC said, “HARC began this cooperative of women five years ago and, have been providing them good quality seeds, training, help in packaging and selling the product. Unfortunately, banks including district cooperative banks are not forthcoming to extend lone and ask for assests first. The state government must support collective women enterprises as they support industries. Now a Bangalore based woman oriented organization, Rang De, have come forward to give us loan at 5%.”
Sangeeta Devi, farmer from Jalasu village of Chamoli said, “I get an income of Rs 20,000 per crop from tulsi farming. Earlier I would earn five to six thousand from rice cultivation which would require so much water and grow once in a year. But now I get two crops of tulsi in six months’s time which does not need much maintenance and water.”
Tulasi is highly medicinal and used from granny days. Wonderful if ALL houses grow and eat atleast 5 grams daily green leaves to prevent many deadly viral diseases. She said, she is able to buy household ration for the entire year from earning generated by tulsi and has also bought a water tank of 10,000 litre, with which she has started farming of vegetables.
Anita Devi of Langasu village share as to how they had abandoned farming after their fields were repeatedly destroyed by wild boar and monkey and were dependent on meagre income of her husband, who run a small tea shop in the village. “Initially villagers discouraged me that tulsi would not grow in the farming field but I persisted. the first three months, I had production of 10.20 quintal and earning of Rs 10,140. Now some 12 more women have joined me and in our village, we are producing 50 quintal tulsi.”