Journey from Learning to Delivering - Story of Sujata Paramanik

KJ Contributor
KJ Contributor
Training Session
Training Session

Two years ago, PepsiCo partnered with USAID and launched the ‘Women Empowerment Initiative’, a fairly unique initiative that has been getting an encouraging response, especially for the potato cultivation category. This initiative has already proved to be beneficial for over 1000 women farmers in the state of West Bengal.

According to the statistics released by the University of Maryland and NCAER, 2018, women constitute over 42 percent of the agricultural labor force in India but own less than two percent of farmland. Indian women typically spend as much time as their husbands working on the farm - preparing fields, planting seeds, harvesting crops, and managing animals. The rest of the agricultural value chain where crops are transformed into products is a man’s world: aggregating, sorting, grading, processing, packing, and marketing. They are all largely done by men.

To change the status quo, USAID and PepsiCo have partnered to make the business case for women empowerment in the PepsiCo potato supply chain in West Bengal, India. The partnership is improving their access to land, skills, and employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to increase adoption of sustainable farming practices (SFPs), and improve women’s livelihood.

Case Study

This is a case study of Sujata Paramanik, who lives in Chandra, Bankura, working as a Community Agronomist in Barasat under Integrated land and Resource Governance (ILRG) Project in 2020-21. Sujata is efficiently managing both household work and agricultural work. She never received any formal training on farming but managed her family farm with traditional knowledge. She is very active in her professional work as Community Agronomist and a member of the Chandra Self-Help Group.  

Learning’s from POP training:  

Sujata was an active participant in (Package of Practices) POP training since 2019-20. During the module on pest and diseases of potato and their prevention, she learned about integrated pest management (IPM) for the prevention of aphids, which can be primarily controlled to some extent by sticky trap, without using any chemicals.  

She decided to test this concept in one of her small potato plots. She took a piece of cloth of bright yellow colour, put some sticky glue on it and fixed it with the help of 4 sticks on the middle of the plot. This method cost her one-fourth of chemical interventions (approximately INR 10 for her small plot of land). For other plots, she sprayed chemical for controlling the same aphids. She found that the aphids got stuck on the piece of cloth. The results were same or to some extent better with the IPM initiative.  

Scaling up and replication:  

Sujata decided to use the IPM approach in all her potato fields next year. She said that this method is simple, easy, and cheap, as well as environment-friendly in comparison to insecticide.  

Neighbouring farmers also approached her to understand the method and showed interest to apply it in their field in coming years. She decided to discuss this with other farmers so they can monitor or control aphids without using chemicals and contribute towards environmental sustainability. 

How has the USAID-PepsiCo project changed your life?  

Sujata has learned a lot by attending the agronomy training in 2019-20. This is the first formal training she received on farming. The best part of the training is to explain the reasons behind every action – what if we do this and what if we don’t. In 2020 she was selected as Community Agronomist, providing her with another level of exposure and experience. She is now not just a potato farmer but a trainer and a motivator.

She learns about sustainable farming practices and the role of women in farming, she understands gender dynamics and how they deter women’s empowerment in her community. This project has been able to give her confidence and recognition.  

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