Shanku and Leela walk to their bhungroo through cracked land that had received rains just eight days earlier.
Photo: Jency Samuel


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Water scarcity, waterlogging and soil salinity have long been a major problem in the Western Indian state of Gujarat. To make things worse, the region was hit by a devastating earthquake in 2001. But with a simple technology, farmers have managed to improve their harvests and earn more income. What is more, the new technology is owned exclusively by women.

“My husband asked me to leave the house when I informed him that I was one of the five women chosen to own and manage a bhungroo,” recalls Leela, a farmer from Mubarakpura village in the Patan district of Gujarat. This reaction was to be expected if a woman announced that she was going to manage the irrigation of her farm. Although equal participants in agricultural activities, women are at the bottom rung of the societal and familial hierarchy in India.

Soil salinity and hostile weather – a double whammy for farmers

Gujarat, a western Indian state, is a semi-arid region. Patan district – like many other districts of the state – suffers from flooding and drought in quick succession. Being close to the desert region, the salinity of the soil is very high, making farming extremely difficult and expensive.

Farmers look forward to the southwest monsoon in the months of July/ August, as it is the only time of the year when they get rains.

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