Shiladevi – organic farmer, leader, entrepreneur!

Meet Shiladevi, a Pioneer in Organic Farming
Godiyari village in Darbhanga district, Bihar is badly affected by flood every year. It lies on the river Bagmati and community face lot of problems in flood. Unexpected weather conditions have doubled their problems due to decreased income from agriculture and the investment is very high due to cost in chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

Shiladevi is a mercurial WOMEN LEADER who motivates flood and climate affected communities to practice adaptive agriculture initiatives and livelihoods. Shiladevi make bio pesticides (called as Madka Rasayan by local community) and bio compost and practice organic farming in 1 acre land. Apart from using in her field, she also sells these bio pesticides and compost locally and earns extra income. In a recent meeting at Maulaganj with Gram Vikas Maha Sangh, Shiladevi said “even making small changes in our life can be a reason for big changes in the community."

To address these problems, Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) facilitated the process with local NGO, Kanchan Seva Ashram, to introduce innovative agriculture practices with disaster and climate affected vulnerable communities. After experimenting of the Madka Rasayan in her agriculture field, she saw the difference in production of vegetables and pulses and health and taste aspects of the crop. Using own bio pesticides and compost reduces the cost as well as protects the environment. SSP provided support for trainings and learning visits through Community Resilience Fund (CRF).

She travels to other villages and teach communities in preparing bio pesticides using local leaves and materials. More than 500 women members have learned from her practices while visiting her village and seeing her work so far. She is now recognized as a women farmer leader in her area and an active member of Gram Vikas Maha Sangh.

When she started using the bio compost, neighbours started enquiring about the ‘new medicine’. Shiladevi shared her follow community on how to make bio compost. When the response from the field was very positive as it reduced the pest attack and increased the quality of the crop encouraged her to prepare the pesticide in more quantity to sell outside.

She says, “This bio pesticide is the best alternative to chemical pesticides buy from market that is costly, damage crops, environment and affect our health.”

Now Shiladevi is selling the bio pesticide for RS.30/- per kg. She earn Rs.3000/- per month by selling bio pesticide and additional earning of Rs. 6500 per season by selling good quality vegetables. Around 40% of the farmers in the village are using this pesticide to control enemy pests. She also teaches other villages and developed 11 women who are making bio pesticides and using in their field as well as selling to others.
– Family income level increased by selling bio pesticides
– Quality are assured in eco friendly farming practices using bio pesticides and vermin compost
– 11 new women members joined in this initiative
– Soil fertility and crop health has increased by using eco-friendly farming practices
How to make the bio-pesticide: Neem leaf (Azadirachtaindica) – 1 kg, Green Chilli – 200 gm, Jaggery – 100 gm, Rejected dry tobacco leaves – 500, Akaun leaf – 1 kg, Cow urine – 10 litre, Gur 150 gm, 10 litre cow urine. (Mix this ingredient in 10 litre cow urine and keep it for 20 days and use it). Production cost for 1kg is approx Rs. 10/- only.

Shiladevi's success is enabled by organisations like Swayam Shikshan Prayog. Veterun, raise money for Swayam Shikshan Prayog India and help them reach more women like Shiladevi!

Story and image courtesy of Swayam Shikshan Prayog

Buy NGO Products

  1. Eco-Friendly Ganesha: We love the idea of these eco-friendly Ganpatis made of shaadu (natural clay). Not only is the material bio-degradable, but you can also immerse it at home. What's more, these beautiful idols are made by mentally challenged adults. You can order a Ganpati idol in a colour of your choice. Do contact them in advance to place your order. Get in touch with Kalpana from Social Services Enterprise at 
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  3. A bake sale at your office!: If you're in Mumbai and want to earn some brownie points with your office, call Spring Street Bakery! This professionally run bakery trains and employs girls from underprivileged backgrounds, so every cookie you eat helpsmake their world a better place. They can organise a bake sale in your office (all items are pre-cooked) or you can order celebration cakes, gift hampers or have them run delicious team building activities for you. Don't forget to spread the word!

Join the Atma Network for NGOs today!

Like many entrepeneurs starting their social organisations, Dr. Asavari Shinde, Founder of VASS (Vardayini Apang Seva Sanstha) – an NGO that works with children with dissabilities in Mumbai – was struggling with things like how to get the organization more organised!

This is the reason why she joined Atma Network: “We are a very young NGO and have no expertise in areas like Fundraising, Marketing, Strategy or Monitoring. In this sense, we are able to learn a lot from Atma Network”, she explains.

The Atma Network is a free, online platform for entrepreneurs starting and scaling social companies or NGOs. It offers them relevant and quality material and tools to develop and improve their organisation. “We have made a new brochure for our organisation using the tools we found in Atma Network, and even the presentations that we make to our prospective donors are based on information from the Network”, explains Dr. Asavari Shinde.

Atma’s Executive Director Mary Ellen Matsui says, “Atma Network helps organisations save time and resources by establishing efficient operational mechanisms and organisational systems. The best thing is that it is free of cost and anyone with access to internet can use it.”

The Atma Network helps organizations like VASS to determine which areas  the organisation needs to work on, and how they can be solved. Dr. Shinde explains how they used to worry about “how to go forward and what to do. Now we think about which area the problem belongs to and open that module on Atma Network”.

The platform comprises a total of 90 projects, with several hundreds of documents, templates and guides. “You'll find samples, modules and examples that are so perfect that we know for sure which direction to go to”, states Dr. Shinde.

“More than 70 NGOs, from different sectors and countries, are currently members of Atma Network. The Network also allows its members to connect to each other, ask questions, share successes and discuss best practices,” says Matsui.

Atma Network was created by Atma, a Mumbai-based organisation that helps education NGOs to achieve sustainability and scalability. The platform is based on years of expertise and work with social organisations.

“We are very happy with our experience with Atma Network”, explains Dr. Shinde. “We feel we have achieved a lot in 6 months, and we have started investing our time in bigger projects.”

Atma Network wants to bring more organisations to the platform, to participate and give feedback, thus creating a solid community in which they can share knowledge and experience. Any NGO or Social Enterprise can become a member of Atma Network, just by registering online on the website

A true philosophy of giving – Part I

What does it mean to live a good life? Is it having all your material needs met? Or is it feeling fulfilled?

We had the honour of listening to Mr. Mohandas Pai, former CFO of Infosys, current Chairman of Manipal Group of Education. Mr Pai has many successes to his credit from the corporate world – notably being judged Best CFO while at Infosys, the first Indian company to list on NASDAQ, and even conceptualising their revolutionary stock options scheme for employees.

Even as he achieved these  landmark successes, Mr. Pai experienced a feeling that something was missing. As he said in his speech, many people achieve success in their career or business. Yet a question keeps nagging at them – ‘what should I do with my life?’

This question marked a turning point in Mr. Pai’s path to philanthropy. He found himself , in conversation with Mr. Madhu Pandit Dasa, President of the ISKCON temple in Bengaluru  (and an IIT educated engineer!). Mr. Pai suggested to Mr. Dasa that he run a mid-day meal scheme for children, and with a donation from Mr. Pai and others the project was on its way!

The mid-day meal grew to feed 30,000 children, and soon citizens of Bengaluru started to write in, asking them to feed more children. The scheme was formalised as The Akshaya Patra Foundation. They gained support from the Government – Murli Manohar Joshi, then HRD Minister, gave the NGO its name. (Akshaya Patra in Sanskrit means an inexhaustible vessel that never runs out of food.) Narendra Modi as Chief Minister of Gujarat invited them to set up operations in his state, as did Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan. Children eating the food performed better on health and improved their educational attainments! The NGO currently feeds 15 lakh children a day in 11,500 government schools across India, and is one of the largest feeding programmes in the world.

Listening to Mr. Pai gives one the feeling that he has received more than what he has given. He said he feels a renewed sense of purpose, and now works harder than he did at Infosys! He feels that working for a cause has given him tremendous energy to achieve more – not for himself, but for his country and his society. It is truly a selfless sense of giving, driven by the cause and those that benefit rather than any personal sense of satisfaction. Indeed, Mr. Pai says that he is ennobled to be able to work like this.

How many people do we know who have so much meaning and purpose in their lives? True humility evades many successful people, though Mr. Pai does not seem to be one of them. His philosophy of giving is ultimately a philosophy of living – it does not have to do with how much money you make or how much you want to give.

It is driven by a desire to create value for others. As he said, it has given him more energy and purpose to achieve this objective. This energy is indeed present, and infectious!