IMSE has been working extensively with and for
the marginalized and downtrodden peasant
womenin West Bengal. It has a big campus in
Labpur, Birbhum and it is working in several
villages (including some tribal villages)
around the campus. These villages are mainly
dependent on agriculture and comprised of
marginalized poor farming households. There
are approximately 15% tribal populationamong
the most vulnerable groups, in these
villages. The major challenge faced by the
poor peasant household is limited production
and large scale dependence on a single crop
i.e. Paddy. The poor-quality degraded land,
lack of adequate water for round the year
cultivation, high input costs of production
as well as poor price of produce confine
them in perpetual poverty.
The IMSE campus has around 10 acres of land and in around 5 acres of land is used for demonstration farming of sustainable agriculture and herbal medicinal plant. Recently, IMSE has developed a nursery for Aroma Cultivation. In this demo farm Lemongrass and Palmarosa along with Vetiver, Tulsi, Serpgandha is cultivated spreading a huge area for maximum production. IMSE in Labpur is promoting herbal medicinal plant and aromatic plant cultivation through its demo farm (at campus) and thereby motivating farmers to cultivate such high value species including Lemongrass (for oil extraction) which has high market value. IMSE has been able to encourage the villagers in growing such aromatic plants in their degraded lands which is not helpful for other types of cultivation.
IMSE has received technical knowhow from Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, popularly known as CIMAP which is a frontier plant research laboratory of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), GOI. Thereafter IMSE has been able to successfully identify 50 plus farmers for this cultivation. Thus farmers are showing increased interest in aroma species cultivation and putting their degraded lands into use and thereby opening up new avenues for income generation. IMSE offers short term courses to poor farmers on making bio pesticides, fertilizers, vermicompost etc. at demo farm and provides handholding support to the farmers for aroma cultivation at fields. The main aim is to establish a good model of aroma production centre run by poor peasant women and which contributes in poverty alleviation in a tangible way by increasing their household income. It may be mentioned here that IMSE is the pioneering social organization in West Bengal which has taken an initiative to mainstream aroma cultivation for boosting rural economy and women empowerment. Our pilot project presently covers around 300 villagers across 50 peasant households (BPL).