For Sidhappa and Gangamma from Kadampura Village in Gadag District there is no challenge that is too great. Sidhappa was born with a congenital limb defect with mobility constraints and his wife Gangamma is severely visually impaired. Despite their disabilities and long term limiting conditions, the couple have taken up farming on the three acre stretch of agricultural land owned by them.
Unlike persons with mobility impairment in urban areas who are used to travel over hard surfaces, as farmers working on their farm land both Sidhappa and Gangamma encounter many different challenges.
These include being able to:
Navigate the farm land with weeds, grass, mud, crushed stone, hard-packed dirt, sandy soil, tilled soil, field drainage, ditches, seeded crops, over grown vegetation, uneven and rugged surfaces.
Navigate fences and gates.
Prepare land for cultivation.
Undertake optimum cultivation including inter-cropping.
Inspect portions of the fields for weeds and insects.
Prepare and administer bio-fertilizers.
Locate and monitor livestock.
Carryout surveillance of crops
When asked how the couple manages to overcome these and other insurmountable challenges, Sidhappa puts his success down to three things. He says,
“Without a doubt firstly it is the team work between my wife and me. We complement and help each other out and not try to do everything on our own.
Secondly, we always plan ahead and decide what needs doing, where and when. This helps us determine tasks that could be performed independently and those that will require some assistance, and the kind of assistance that will be required.
Finally, we believe that we need to work with what we have and not keep lamenting about things we don’t”.
Here I should point out that Sidhappa who is born without both feet, uses a basic improvised limb accessory which serves as an ambulatory device.
Fighting the vagaries of nature, being dependent on rain fed agriculture and subsistence farming; the couple are working with DEAL Foundation to assess suitable additional options for sustainable livelihoods.