At the back of the farm is a brick NADEP compost pit for preparing organic fertiliser from agricultural biomass and cattle droppings. This couple is a very hardworking pair who have sown turmeric on one small irrigated plot of land. They get about 60 kilograms of dried turmeric from this plot. 10 kilograms are set aside for seeding and the rest 50 kilograms are ground and sold as powder in small packets at Rs 200 a kilogram for a total annual earning of Rs 10000. They also grow sweet potatoes in another small plot of irrigated land and this too is sold along with the turmeric in the weekly market that is held on Sundays in their village. The picture below shows Batibai selling her sweet potatoes.
Their eldest son works as a mason in a nearby town and earns Rs 300 a day and that also supplements the family income. The two other adult children a son and a daughter are now studying in college, while the minor children are studying in school. Batibai is a member of a self help micro-credit group of thirteen women who save Rs 200 every month and get about Rs 10000 as short term loans through an advance from the local bank. Apart from this the family has a debt burden of Rs 20000 from local moneylenders at an annual interest of 25%.
This family is an active member of the Adivasi Morcha Sangathan and while Saligram has been to jail in the fight for his rights, Batibai has toured Gujarat to learn about new agricultural practices like the growing and processing of turmeric. There are millions of such households which are eking out a precarious existence on the margins and contributing their labour without adequate recompense. It is these people who need to be taken care of in government policies and programmes but there is not much being done in this respect.