Before: Life as a Farmworker
For as long as she could remember, Lakshmi Devi, like her parents, worked on other people’s farms for daily wages. While her husband was in bonded labor, she worked double shifts and just barely got enough food for the family. When he came out of bondage, both of them migrated to work in brick kilns every year, earning Rs. 7000 for six months’ work. Low and unequal wages were not sufficient to attend the entire family needs.
Six years ago, along with representatives of the agricultural workers union, Lakshmi Devi began the process of identifying government land and applying for it. In 2015 she and 18 women obtained titles to their land and formed a seed bank where they collectively manage native seeds of minor millet and lentils, thus ensuring their own food security.
After: Lakshmi Becomes a Farmer
Since obtaining land, Lakshmi Devi has transformed her life. She cultivates ragi, jowar, lentils, vegetables, pulses and groundnuts. The ragi and lentils she grows are enough to meet her family’s needs for the year. Moving from hunger to self-sufficiency in food production is great. In addition the social status upgrade from landless “coolie” to farmer is a big jump for a Dalit woman.
AID extends solidarity to the Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vrttidharula Union (APVVU) which has helped many farmworkers become farmers.