Meet Daasi, the tribal woman from the Sollepura resettlement colony, who had no clue about farming few years ago, but is now a model farmer!
Written by Manish Machaiah
Daasi was a widow with ten children, living in the Nagarahole forest and eking a living from selling minor forest produce. Till an opportunity to move out came her way in the form of a voluntary relocation package. Along with some 60 other families, she left the national park in 2007. She was given a house and three acres of land at Sollepura in HD Kote taluk.
That was around ten years ago. Today, Daasi, aged 55, belonging to the Jenukuruba tribe of honey collectors, earns around Rs 4 lakh annually, from the crops she grows on her land. She harvests a variety of crops ranging from maize, pepper, beans, tomato, and chilli. Daasi also rears some poultry, sheep, and goats.
No small wonder that this woman has been bestowed recently with two awards for her achievements in farming. These are the awards from HD Kote Agriculture Department and Vijaya Karnataka. The latter, a Kannada daily in the state of Karnataka has recognized Daasi as ‘Superstar Farmer’ for cultivating diverse crops. She is among 13 other farmers honoured across Mysore and Chamarajanaagar district.
From a forest dweller living in Sunkada Katte range of Nagarahole National Park to a 'super farmer', this is the story of a transformation where hard work, perseverance and support played a big role.
WCS-India field staff played a significant role in this achievement. The team helped in providing Daasi with seeds as also providing access to attend various training programs in Mysore and Bengaluru. The team has left no stone unturned in giving her access to all facilities available from the government, including medical facilities.
“I felt like an officer on the stage," said Daasi after the award function. "I am very happy. I lived half of my life in forests with no clue of the world outside. After moving out I know lots of things, which I still find difficult to believe. I have learned a lot from all the training programs which happened in Mysore, Bengaluru and other places. That is the reason I was able to accomplish what I did. I just want see my kids to stand on their feet and do hard work. I thank the WCS team who made all this possible. Not only me and my family, but there are around 60 plus families around here who are happier than me now,” she noted.
According to Govindappa H L, the WCS-India staff who works at the Sollepura centre, “These are people who had no clue of farming. That makes their success really commendable. I must say that the women here have been more enterprising and ready to put efforts, than the men. While some have taken the training we have helped them access, and gone on to other areas of livelihood, few like Daasi have decided to stay put and make a success on the land given to them.” Adopting the multi-crop pattern has helped them by ensuring that if one crop fails, there are others to fall back on, he adds.
He points out how the people have picked up the skills of farming purely from the training and exposure to various Krishi melas. WCS staff have taken them to agricultural colleges, poultry training centres, etc.
Daasi’s husband, who was a forest watcher, passed away in 2005, leaving Daasi with 10 kids (6 daughters, 4 sons). Four of her daughters are now married. One works at a beauty parlour, thanks to the training sponsored by WCS-India and four of her sons are into farming, one of who helps her with his wife in farming the land. The rest of the labour, who work on her three acres, are paid by Daasi, the woman who once owned nothing more than a hut inside the forest.
It was primarily the need for education for her children and better health facilities, as also fear of wildlife, that made her opt out of the forest, she says.
“After my father’s death in 2005, my mother decided to take up the relocation package which was provided by the government. She was struggling to take care of me and my siblings. We were somehow surviving in the forest. When mother accepted the relocation package it was a boon for us. We have improved a lot since we moved out. We are now able to live happily all because of my mother,” says the Daasi’s eldest son, Daasappa who was only 18 years old when they moved out.
Daasi plans to continue with her hard work as much as she can in future. She is an inspiration not only to her own family but also to the whole society.
(So far, 792 families have moved out from remote corners of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve to the four resettlement centres in the outskirts of Hunsur town.)