At the crack of dawn, Lipi Basak and her sisters Smriti and Mamti are already out of their home, with a group of quacking ducks ahead of them. It is raining. The road is muddy with small puddles. But this does not deter the feisty young women from reaching their ultimate destination — paddy fields about a kilometre away from their home.
Once there, the ducks, altogether eighteen of them, merrily glide onto the paddy ponds flapping their wings, wading past the tender saplings that are about 1.5 feet-2 feet tall.
“They have been brought here with a purpose,” said Lipi, a home maker turned neo-farmer from Keotal village in Uttar Dinajpur district of West Bengal.
“The ducks eat up the harmful pests and weeds from our fields, their droppings make the soil fertile. This saves us from using chemical fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides and their escalating costs,” she informed.