It has been couple of weeks since I am in the field i.e. in a small village called Pusli in the Athner block of Betul district in Madhya Pradesh. Unlike most of the co-fellows it took me a while to hit the field and I believe Tulika (co fellow in same organization and luckily on same project with whom I had fought the most, enjoyed the most and the one I miss the most here) will agree to this that after 3 months of induction training we had forgotten almost all the teachings (gyanbaaji) given to us by Anupama and Adarsh on how to stay in the community and all the Do’s and Don’ts. Though I didn’t give much thought to this, it was somewhere in my tiny brain surrounded by the large skull.
After I reached here and spent some days, where I was completely lost in the scenic beauty and excitement of staying in a village, I almost forgot that I am a part of a project and have some tasks to accomplish. Sooner than later my project in-charge reminded me, bit harshly though, of the work which was left and how much the project has got derailed and necessity to take charge and do something. I came back to senses and realized its time to work. We had to create baseline, collect fees, visit every farmer personally, visit his field, roll out United Nation’s survey, make farm plan etc.
Just like my project in-charge pressed on me to accomplish tasks I pressed on the field staff, our correspondent from the village itself, to accomplish tasks. But we could not accomplish anything significant in next couple of days – reason being that our correspondent was hired on part time basis so he will not dedicate his full time to work for us as he himself was a farmer and owned a milk dairy and whenever I used to ask him about work he will say “I cannot do your work whole day, I have my own work as well which are also important to me.” I used to get frustrated on him that if you have so much personal work and you knew you won’t get time than why did you take this task on. But nothing could be done on that now so I keep pressing him for doing our work. Also the farmers had a fixed routine of the day. They will hit the field at around 9:30 in the morning and will not come back by 6 in the eve and the entire village sleeps by 9 at night. So we got a very little window to work that was around hour and a half in the morning and same in the evening and the worst part, this was exactly the time window when our correspondent will do his work of milk dairy which he owns. He has to collect milk, make payments, maintain account diaries and he cannot delay his work as the milk collecting vehicle will come at fixed time in morning and evening. So this was becoming something like a deadlock situation. I kind of started hating that milk dairy because it was not allowing us to work.
Now, I had three challenges in front of me first was to accomplish tasks, second was to remember the houses of all the farmer club members so that at least I can do some work and not remain fully depend on our correspondent and third to find a permanent solution to this problem.
So I started with remembering and locating houses of our farmers and I have always been very bad in this so it was like a personal challenge for me. Still struggling. but somehow I managed to fill the baseline forms in the tiny time window I get in a day. This also allowed me to connect personally with each and every farmer and listen to them. I felt it was just a matter of showing up and start doing work. Finished first task in two days and I know our correspondent was observing me doing work and we made good terms as I eased his burden a bit.
After finishing first task I kind of started feeling confident in roaming around the village alone. But the next task was of collecting monthly fee of 50 rs. from the farmers and I knew it was the toughest challenge. I definitely needed our correspondent’s help but he had his own time problems. I hated his milk dairy unit further more. But at this point I allowed him to carry out his daily routine and stopped pressing hard on him for work.
In midst of this we unknowingly took one more task in our hand that was to collect money for seeds (from 1800 to 3500 INR from each farmer) which they are going to sow for this season and if we delay in collecting money we wont be able to provide good seeds and this will badly reflect in the impact assessment to be done at the end of the crop cycle. We both started laughing thinking that we are not able to collect 50 rs how are we going to collect this huge amount. Why was it difficult? Because last season’s crop, soyabean, failed terribly for the third time in a row thanks to a viral disease called yellow mosaic and farmers were in a terrible financial situation. And we were asking for fee which was an extra burden on their pockets. About the seeds, they used to sow seeds from last year’s production (so they don’t have to spend money on seeds at least) and was a major cause for their low production so we had to change this tactic of theirs and that’s why we were pressing them to buy new good quality seeds. We tried our best but due to lack of time and the current financial situation of farmers in our village we weren’t able to collect even a single rupee.
And then we came up with a solution which not only finished my second but third challenge as well. And guess what, the solution came from something which I hated the most, his milk dairy.
Yes. One day I was sitting in his dairy and was debating with him that we are not doing any work and project is completely derailed and he was defending with same arguments while making calculations for doing payments to his customers. Meanwhile his customer and also member of our farmer club came to receive payment and our correspondent started making calculations from his diary and I started asking him for fees and payment of seeds and he replied to our correspondent “Why don’t you cut it from the payment you are going to give me.” Hence we received our first fee and amount for seed.
I was like stunned as it was so simple to collect money as most of the members are also the customers of his dairy. Following the same process we collected the whole fee in a day and a half and half of the amount for seed. I remember while taking fee from one of the member I looked up to our correspondent and said ” Till your dairy is running we will never have to worry about collecting fee.” We both felt ecstatic since we accomplished our tasks. Sense of being able to accomplish something over whelmed both of us.
And now I spend some awesome hours of my day in his dairy chilling and enjoying with the customers. But I knew this type of problems will erupt now and then and our correspondent will always give importance to his milk dairy.
Yesterday we finished almost all the work we had and I was sitting in my room lying on my bed in the evening. We had decided that we will work in night to finish little work which was left so I was free. Suddenly a motor cycle stopped at my door. It was our correspondent and he said something which I would say was my first achievement. He said “Let’s work. I want to work. I don’t want to sit idle now. Thanks for being co-operative when everybody else were pressing on me for work.” And in next five minutes he listed out all the things he wants to finish doing related to our project (after this I told him how he can gain personal benefit while doing our work :P)
And I felt I achieved something as somehow I was able to motivate him to work and make him feel the joy of accomplishing tasks. I now know he will accomplish all the task happily whether I am there or not due to my advice. 😛