Success Story: Smallholder women farmers increase their yields and incomes in Telangana

Smallholder women farmers in India have incredible potential to uplift their communities. Rathalavath Vijalaxmi is a smallholder farmer from Dachakpally village in Telangana, India. She farms three acres of land along with her husband and three sons. As a young farmer cultivating vegetables like tomatoes, okra, beans, ridge gourds, and chili, Rathalavath often struggles to earn enough from selling her crops to make ends meet for her family. Prior to becoming involved in the Siddipet Horticulture Project, her farm produced an average yield of five to six metric tons.

In April of 2019, Tanager’s extension team visited Dachakpally and began organizing training programs for smallholder farmers in Rathalavath’s village. Tanager’s team paid special attention to ensure that extension services reached women farmers. With Tanager’s support, Rathalavath began learning about new farming technologies that would increase her vegetable yield. She adopted organic pest control techniques including the use of pheromones, yellow sticky and barrix traps, border crops, and natural organic oils. All of these techniques, along with the training, changed the way that Rathalavath farmed.

A key goal for farmers in the Siddipet Horticulture Project is to reduce the cost of production – to make farming faster and cheaper. Rathalavath reduced the cost of production of her tomato crop by adopting a stacking method to maximize the yield of .125 acres of her farm. She reduced her use of fertilizers, pesticides, and improved her methods for managing weeds. Her crops benefited greatly from reduced attacks by pests leading to higher yields and better quality tomatos.

Thanks to her hard work and the Siddipet Horticulture Project, Rathalavath has succeeded in boosting her yield from five metric tons to over nine metric tons from her three acre farm. She has also become engaged in her community, helping other women to adopt organic farming techniques and encouraging them to join the project.

The Siddipet Horticulture Project, now in its second phase, has reached over 5,500 women farmers in Telangana. The project has helped women access GAP training, training on organic farming techniques, and markets. To date, through two phases of the project, farmers have supplied roughly 3,000 metric tons of vegetables to markets.