Her oldest son is 18 years old and her youngest child is a one-year-old boy. Her husband, being a seasonal migrant worker, is often away from home. To support her family, she looks after the farming operations with some support from her father-in-law and older children.
Instead of hiring farm laborers, Mrs. Devi herself works in their fields where she grows rice, wheat, potatoes, peas, pulses, and vegetables during the kharif and rabi seasons. Their harvest is for both family consumption and sale to the market.
She was approached by a local non-government agency (NGO) to participate in the drought-tolerant rice variety promotion initiative facilitated by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) with the support of the state government of Uttar Pradesh.
“After being oriented about the new stress-tolerant rice varieties I decided to plant BINA dhan-11,” said Mrs. Devi BINA dhan-11 is a medium-duration (110–135 days) high-yielding variety that is tolerant of flooding. The farmers in the region have been used to growing medium-duration varieties under rainfed conditions where intermittent dry spells due to scanty rainfall is a common phenomenon. In recent times, BINA dhan-11 has been generally selected for its higher yield potential.
The selection of BINA dhan-11 proved to be a prudent choice when the farms of Mrs. Devi and her neighbors were deluged with raging floodwaters in August during the 2017 kharif season. The flood was caused by the excess water flowing down from high-altitude areas of neighboring Nepal, which had experienced heavy rains. Entire low-lying fields and villages in Maharajganj and adjoining Gorakhpur were swamped with water up to 1.8 meters deep causing severe damages to the region’s entire transplanted rice crop. The rice crop planted only 5–6 weeks earlier would probably have a slim chance of surviving the high levels of flood water.
The farmers were caught completely unaware and unprepared as the unforeseen calamity, which came at midnight, brought widespread destruction and sorrow.
“This kind of flooding had never been experienced for at least the last two decades,” said Mrs. Devi.
Mrs. Devi was able to timely transplant her BINA dhan-11 in spite of the somewhat late arrival of the monsoon. However, she never anticipated the climate change-induced flooding that completely submerged her crop just a month and a half later.
The few kilograms of seeds supplied through the local NGO were more than just a handful of seeds for Mrs. Devi. They had provided her with the means to cope with the impact of climate change. She now has an additional source of income to supplement the remittances of her husband hopefully for many more growing seasons to come.