In an uplifting display of success and environmental goodwill, farmer collectives in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra, marked the Indian Men’s Cricket Team’s ICC T20 World Cup triumph with a unique celebration.

Members of the Samruddh Shetkari Vikas Gat and the Saikrupa Mahila Shetkari Gat, alongside the Paani Foundation, engaged in a series of community-focused activities in the villages Sarola Kasar and Savrgaon Tal of Ahmednagar.

Inspired by the cricketing achievement, the Samruddh Shetkari Vikas Gat took up an innovative approach by planting saplings named after players of the Indian cricket team. Notably, they also dedicated a sapling in honor of the prestigious tournament trophy and hoisted the national flag. This initiative was carried out at the Zilla Parishad Primary School in Sarola Kasar, the Nagar block, ensuring that these saplings are in an environment where they will receive optimal care and attention.

A group work

“The sarpanch of Sarola Kasar, Jayaprakash Patil, had an idea to plant trees in the name of the players of the Indian cricket team, as something that could be done from their side to celebrate the team’s victory. The entire gat (group) gathered for this activity,” said Vikram Fatak, 34, the regional coordinator for Ahmednagar and Nashik districts, Paani Foundation.

Festive offer

He underlined the collective spirit of the Samruddh Shetkari Gat, which was initially formed to participate in the Satyamev Jayate Farmer Cup, a competition conducted by the Paani Foundation for farmers to compete for best work in the field of sustainable agriculture.

Indian flag hoisted by women’s collective

Similarly, the Saikrupa Mahila Shetkari Gat joined the celebrations by planting saplings and hosting their own flag hoisting ceremony at Savrgaon Tal, Sangamner. This group, previously recognized for their state level achievement in the Farmer Cup, added their own form of celebration to the festivities. “Just as our flag was lifted high in the West Indies, the members of the Mahila gat made sure they did the same here,” noted Fatak.

“They do birthdays together, they support each other when there is a family wedding, they are there for each other when there is a death in the family; all along, through grief, loss and celebration,” said Lipi Mehta, 33, Head of Outreach and Partnerships with the Paani Foundation.

‘Farmer collectives came up with ideas’

She added, “The sapling plantation was not something we suggested; the farmer collectives came up with these ideas on their own and have been working together for the longest time. So, when the Indian cricket team won, they were jubilant and wanted to do something to mark it.”

The Paani Foundation, active for around seven years in the villages of Maharashtra, has empowered nearly 50,000 farmers and 4,356 farmer collectives, from which almost 1,000 plus groups are an all women collective.

Role of Paani Foundation

Over 6,000 villages have also unitedly learned the science of watershed management from Paani, culminating in another competition for the farmers, called the Water Cup. The residential training provided by Paani is absolutely free of cost.

“The best part about all this is, Paani does not give a single rupee to the farmers – we create an ecosystem of knowledge and training and the farmers themselves decide to participate and gain from this ecosystem. There is no monetary exchange, it is not a regular CSR activity where we go to their fields and work on casual tasks. The farmers have all done it by themselves,” said Mehta.

Paani Foundation also has a platform called the Digital Farming School where the farmers join classes via Zoom and YouTube and speak to the best scientists in Maharashtra from different agricultural universities and learn about such sustainable and healthy practices directly from them.