For women in Marathwada, farming is a tool of empowerment. They are using an innovative organic farming model that saves water and doubles production.

Developed by Pune’s Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP), the ‘One Acre Model’ is a multi-cropping pattern that uses less water and more seed, and comes with zero investment.

The model was developed keeping in mind the issues that the farmers in this region face the most — droughts, depleting water tables, pest attacks, and rising temperatures.

“The model is a success in the Marathwada region and incomes have doubled,” says Tabassum Momin, Program Manager, SSP.

As per the Rabi and Kharif seasons, they divided the grains, vegetables, pulses, and millets, and calculated how many crops can be planted on the land.

“The combination of seeds is selected in a way that they aid each other’s growth. There are crops that keep pests at bay such as onions, garlic, radish, eggplant,” she says.

“The height of the plants vary as well to provide shade to one another, as well as allow the sunlight to percolate,” she adds.

The farmers save nutrient-rich seeds and sow them again for the next cycle, thus eliminating the need to buy more in the future.

“In terms of cost, this would be zero-budget farming from the second cycle,” she says.

The experiments began with three groups, each comprising 20 women. At present, close to 1,38,000 women farmers are reaping the benefits.