This photo essay comes to us from Landesa.
Thanks to state and national level programs across India, tens of thousands of previously poor, landless women are becoming landowners and farming “micro-plots” of land to feed their families and build a better future. The tennis-court-sized home and garden plots, give previously landless families the ability to produce most of the vegetables and fruits they need and sell excess produce to supplement the family’s other earnings. India has an estimated 20 million completely landless rural families. Providing these families with secure rights to a small patch of land gives them security and opportunity. When women are given the rights to the land, the benefits ripple even further – with women gaining economic empowerment and a greater voice in decision making at home. Let’s celebrate India’s newest crop of landowners…
In 2010, Gouri received title to a micro-plot of land. She and her husband, Nipendra, have planted fruit and timber trees, vegetables and spices, allowing them – for the first time in their lives– to have a secure source of food.
Anna, a 36-year-old mother of three, is now a proud owner of a micro-plot of land in West Bengal, India. She planted fruit trees and timber trees on her micro-plot. The fruit will improve her family’s nutrition and help their bottom line when she sells the excess at market. The timber trees are an investment in the future. In a decade, when they are mature, she can harvest them and sell the wood. Previously, Anna and her husband Gopal lived day to day, without the opportunity or security to invest in the future.
Santana, a 40-year-old mother of three, grows fruit trees, bottle-gourd, turmeric and leafy greens in her micro-plot.
Her family’s micro-plot of land not only provides them with a place to live and grow food, but also gave them the security and stability they needed to apply for other government services such as electricity, toilet, and water hookups. Secure rights to even a small plot of land can give families the ability to access a host of government services including agricultural training and subsidies and feeding programs for children.
“My greatest pride is that this is my own,” said Suneka, mother of two and owner of a micro-plot of land. “I can develop a garden for my family.”
The couple can now better support their children’s education. And they can afford lentils and cooking oil – both previously luxuries.
Suneka’s husband Titun explained, “When you are landless you feel so frustrated. Nothing is your own. I felt so scared too. Scared about the future. But, now we can make a life for our son and our daughter.”
Hope grows on Anita’s new micro-plot of land.
Anita, 25 and a mother of three girls, grew up without schooling, without a home, without hope. Her landless parents never had enough money to send her to school and married her off when she was 16.
Though she desperately wanted to support her daughters’ education, she feared that circumstances would force her hand. There was never enough money for basic necessities, even when her husband Roopkumar migrated to find better work.
Then, last year, the government of West Bengal granted her a micro-plot of land. “Now I have hope,” said Anita. “I have started nurturing so many dreams after getting this land.”