Snehalaya's collaboration with Paani Foundation first started through our relationship with Bollywood icon, Aamir Khan, when he presented our work in his hit TV show, Satyamev Jayate in 2012. The coverage helped raise the profile of Snehalaya nationally and we have benefitted in many different ways as a result.
Therefore when Aamir and the Satyamev Jayate founding members started Paani Foundation to help address the drought situation in Maharashtra and asked us to be involved we jumped at the chance. In the first year, we helped manage donations to support villages taking part in the Satyamev Jayate Water Cup. The next year, we worked with the team again to register villages participating in the competition, collecting funds for the hire of JCB/Poklain machines for their Mission Water.
This year we are collaborating in a very different way. While the Paani Foundation team has achieved great success in making thousands of villages water abundant, they have very little practical agricultural experience themselves. Therefore they have asked us to provide some land where they could increase their practical knowledge in the field. They want to nurture their experience in all areas and are using 4 acres of our Himmatgram organic farm to learn through action and make demo plots for new crops.
The team, assembled from the different talukas of Maharashtra, started their work in April 2023 with soil testing and preparation of the plots. To help increase the organic carbon in the soil, green manure (dhenca, tag) was spread and washed away before planting. Four types of sweet jowar, soybean, urad, moong, edamame maize, bajra, and two types of Napier, guar, okra, bitter gourd, cilantro, and onion have been cultivated.
All the crop areas have been equipped with bird stops, sticky nets, kamodandha traps, etc. for integrated pest management. Also, nimboli extract, dashparni extract and decomposer have been made to prevent insects from attacking the crops.