Every morning, Haripriya and Sivapriya prepare for varsity in Attingal, Thiruvananthapuram. But other than their baggage loaded with books and a lunchbox, there’s a bag stuffed with freshly harvested greens from their farm.
These greens are purchased by a number of the lecturers on the college. But make no mistake — this isn’t a enjoyable exercise or a pastime. The teenage sisters toil on their farm to develop contemporary seasonal greens to assist their household. Their efforts have pulled them out of poverty and made them an inspiration within the village.
“Our father used to work in a gulf country and returned home in 2017. He then started working as a daily wager but eventually incurred heavy debts due to our poor financial conditions. We could see him in pain and decided to help him financially,” Sivapriya tells The Better India.
The 18-year-old provides that their father didn’t have a set earnings and the household struggled to make ends meet.
So his daughters began rising greens in gunny baggage outdoors their dwelling. “It was minuscule, but seeing our efforts, three neighbours came together to help and leased us 80 cents of land for free, which is a little less than an acre to farm,” she says.
Another problem was that neither of them knew how one can farm.
“We had only seen our grandparents do the farming at our mother’s farm. We had a vague idea about the process and methods to follow. So first, we decided to grow tapioca, which is comparatively simpler than other vegetables,” she says.
Sivapriya says the sisters didn’t apply any scientific information to farming. “After succeeding with tapioca, we decided to grow other vegetables such as cowpeas, bottle gourd, okra, tubers and others. We did not have any money, so we used seeds from vegetables and sourced the seedlings from Krishi Bhavan, a State Government department that helps farmers,” she says.
The sisters used natural manure from close by poultry. “The owner was kind enough to give away the manure for free. On other occasions, we used goat manure from our house,” she says.
Seeing their efforts, their dad and mom chipped in to assist with ploughing and tilling the land. “Our mother also took us for farmer training workshops at the Krishi Bhavan,” she says.
The sisters then took the produce to the native market to promote. “We also took it to school for our teachers to let them know about our farm venture. We also shared a part of the produce with the neighbours who leased us the land,” she says.
Haripriya, who research in Class 9, says they can’t calculate a set determine of their month-to-month earnings. She says, “Ours is a small venture, and there are no fixed earnings. But the activity has certainly helped us to meet our daily expenses and cover our school fees. It has made our life better.”
She provides that they by no means missed any courses. “We farm in the early hours or after returning from school. We made sure that all our playtime went into farming. At times we worked at 5 pm and spent most of our weekends on the farm.”
Haripriya goals to change into an agriculture officer, whereas Sivapriya needs to serve within the military.
Their mom, Sajitha, says, “I have always felt embarrassed about friends and in-laws seeing us struggle in life. But now the additional income is helping us earn a good living.”
She provides, “I am a proud mother of my daughters and feel relieved seeing their maturity and resilience to deal with the situation. I feel confident that even though life is hard on them, in the future they will definitely endure the situation and move ahead.”
Edited by Yoshita Rao