Amid the spread of COVID-19 and lockdown situation in Manipur, many women in the state have turned to agriculture, which experts say could transform how the people think about nature, food security and communities. With time in hand and most of the markets remaining closed owing to lockdown restrictions, womenfolk of the state have started taking keen interests in growing crops and vegetables for self-sustainability.
One Athokpam Dhaneshori said a hectare of land was lying unused and had become a wasteland. But with the help of her friends, she turned the land into a vegetable garden. It all started when, during the lockdown, members of Women Action for Development (WAD) came to her home area at Yaralpat Robinhood road for distributing essential items.
WAD secretary Sobita Mangsatabam suggested turning the wasteland into a vegetables garden. She also extended help in cleaning up the bushes by providing a tractor and seeds of different vegetables. Dhaneshori expressed that even if she has knowledge of farming, it would be a big a challenge for her to maintain support for vegetation without manpower. But her friends who are mostly housewives from the locality, are working together on the vegetable garden.
They will open a bank account to save the profits, she added. “We plan to turn this wasteland into a vegetable garden and help people by providing fresh organic vegetables to them,” she stated.
They are planting fruits in surrounding garden areas and several vegetables like pumpkin, cucumber, ‘yendem’, chillies, and chives etc. Being housewives, they were busy with household work for the past many years. However, due to this lockdown they have started giving time on other activities such as farming which also can provide them some profit as well, she added.
One of the eight women, Hijam Nomita said that the lockdown for many has been mentally strenuous and buying of vegetables itself has become a difficult task. The prices of vegetables also are hiked and no fresh vegetables are available, she said. Her husband, who is an auto-rickshaw driver, is now out of work due to lockdown. Wanting to help her husband, she thought of helping at least by planting vegetables which are essential.
Lecturer at Thoubal College Samim Banu, has also started maintaining a kitchen garden. She said the focus of the fight against the coronavirus disease has so far correctly been on preventive strategies. However, the pandemic has also thrown up several social issues which are mostly gender-related, she said.
“Women are more vulnerable when they are literally trapped in their homes,” she remarked, adding due to lockdown, she has stopped going to college and it has given her time to spend on her hobby on plantation.
“I finally got the time to take up gardening and plant at my own home surrounding area due to the lockdown. I may have the money but there are no fresh vegetables to purchase. It is better to plant the vegetables on my own,” she said.
The lockdown has led human beings to get back to nature which has already been affected due to climate change, she added.
Like Athokpam and Nomita, several other women in the state have taken to not only growing crops and vegetables but also trees and flowers during this lockdown period.