It was a cold winter morning of December, I regularly visit villages to meet people to know about them and understand needs of energy scenario like what they use for lighting, cooking and for other purposes. I am trying to collect the data about what problem community is facing on energy issues, till date there are many villages, which don’t have access to grid electricity in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. From this month I also started to cook by myself as I finally got tired of eating out side food as daily meals. I bring vegetables while returning home in afternoons. One day I visited a lady called Gita* devi who is a SHG member & also an energy entrepreneur. She sells solar lamps for her additional earning. She is really active, hardworking and also talkative – usually village woman are too shy to ask and/or talk to outsiders.
After some discussion when I asked from where I can get fresh vegetable nearby, she asked for what purpose. I said, she heard. Then she said she had vegetables, which she picked up same morning from her backyard garden. I asked if she would sell those vegetables in market. These vegetables I understood were only used for household consumption. She had another field, for market sale. I was curious why the distinction. The story she told is really different, which I think about even today at times.
Two years before our interaction, her five years old son suffered from high fever and liver disfunctinality – a normal problem of every household of the nearby area there. After many checkups doctor found that there is problem of high concentration of nitrogen and potassium that are increased in liver, which is by consuming food as vegetables and grains with high dose of fertilizers. After one year of bed rest and treatment his condition got better. After that incident all farmers started growing vegetables and grains by pursuing organic methods.
The treatment towards other grains and vegetables is different though – why farmers don’t use organic methods in their fields otherwise? She said, to get proper yield as compared to what they invest on cultivation, they use fertilizers and pesticides, which supposedly increase yield in first one-two years but then decreased both yield and soil natural fertilizing power. It is a cycle, the usage of these poison the soil which in turn makes the farmers put more chemicals into it. So it’s like farmers are habitual of doing this and it has become a way of life now.
So it is really important issue in health care, which we need to be aware of as vegetables and grains are cooked in every household, and persisting with the chemicals is leading us nowhere.
<*Names changed to protect identity>