Archana Dalui

Vegetable grower keen on latest techniques

Achana Dalui, 26, and her husband Narayan are vegetable growers in West Bengal’s East Midnapore district who sell their produce directly in four nearby markets. Each market is open two days a week normally, but their hours have been cut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Archana and Narayan were growing ladies’ fingers or bhindi, cucumbers, pointed gourd or parwal and ridge gourd or jhinge, among other things, when the lockdown was imposed. They had to dump a lot of their harvest or simply leave it for stray cattle.

Narayan cycles with sackloads of vegetables to the markets of Ramkrishnabazar, Lakkhir Bazar (Rajarampur), Vivekananda Bazar (Mograjpur) and Chandir Bazar (Sashiganj). The closest is Ramkrishnabazar (1-2km) and the farthest Chandir Bazar (7-8km).

The couple, who own a one-bigha plot in Rampur village, are again busy, with the general lockdown having been lifted.

Archana, whose husband inherited the one-bigha plot from his father, took her first loan from Village Financial Services almost ten years ago for pesticides and fertilisers.

Now, they are growing cauliflower, shalgam or German turnip for the coming winter.

The couple employ 10-15 farm hands to do the sowing and planting for the first 15 days, paying each Rs 350 a day. Then Archana and her husband take over the work.

Archana helps her husband in the entire process, right up to harvesting the vegetables and packing them in jute bags. Narayan takes the vegetables to the four markets, by turns, in the morning and evening. Archana and her husband earn Rs 400-500 a day by selling vegetables.

Narayan also works part-time as a mason. This work fetches him around Rs 8,000 a month.

The hardworking couple have big dreams for their land and are especially keen to use modern techniques. They have two sons—one is in Class 7 and the other in Class 1.

Archana had been struggling to keep up with the payments for her current loan of Rs 50,000 during the lockdown. But she is again repaying regularly.

VFS has become a part of their business and they attribute the success of their vegetable farming venture to the first loan from the company.

Published on Sep 2, 2020