Kheyti farmers start their second growing cycle

By Janice Cantieri

Last week, farmers working with the Kheyti nonprofit in Laxmapur Village, Telangana, in south-central India, prepared their greenhouses for sowing their second crop, capsicum (bell) peppers. I also spoke with Katikela Shyamala, the village sarpanch, or headwoman, on how being a Kheyti farmer and female leader has inspired the women in her village. 

 Preparing the soil for sowing capsicum peppers. Images by Janice Cantieri.

Preparing the soil for sowing capsicum peppers. Images by Janice Cantieri.

Before the planting began, Kheyti workers tested the farmers' soil to make sure its chemical composition and pH were at the right levels. Then the farmers dug rows for planting, applied fertilizers, and sealed the rows with plastic sheeting. On Saturday, the groups transplanted 40-day-old capsicum plants into the greenhouses. Planting will begin for the 35 other newly signed-on Kheyti farmers once the greenhouses are completed. They will be growing cucumbers. 

 Farmer Appala Venkatesh had the largest yield of cucumbers of the Kheyti farmers during the last growing season. Here he stands with his newly-prepped rows, ready for planting capsicums. 

Farmer Appala Venkatesh had the largest yield of cucumbers of the Kheyti farmers during the last growing season. Here he stands with his newly-prepped rows, ready for planting capsicums. 

 Kheyti Farmers Yadav and Bujji.

Kheyti Farmers Yadav and Bujji.

I spoke with the Sarpanch, or the village headwoman, Katikela Shyamala, who is not only the leader of Laxmapur Village and responsible for looking after the needs of her village, but a widowed mother of two, and, as of this year, a Kheyti farmer. Shyamala was the first female farmer to sign up with Kheyti. (Though she was the first woman to sign up for a greenhouse by herself, the other farmers' wives are very involved in the greenhouse work.) Seeing Shyamala was incredibly inspiring because she's not only managing an entire village, she's earning enough income to provide for her family, she's running a farm, and she's setting a great example of leadership for all of the women in her village. 

 Village Sarpanch Katikela Shyamala, her daughter and I. 

Village Sarpanch Katikela Shyamala, her daughter and I. 

I am currently adding subtitles to a video with Shyamala and will post it as soon as possible!

All rights reserved to images and words.

Janice Cantieri