Women members of the dairy co-operative society want to increase reliance on organic farming, turning to traditional agricultural practices.The dairy co-operative society has empowered them to enhance climate-resiliency of agriculture and also self-sufficiency.Herbal gardens, vermicompost, organic manure and abstinence from antibiotics for cattle go into making their dairy systems organic. A gaggle of laughter breaks out each morning at this one-room milk collection centre. Over 30 women have gathered to deliver milk here: a daily rendezvous for this clique belonging to a women-run dairy co-operative, in the Sundarbans delta in south Asia, that is inching its way to becoming 100 percent organic. In the bucolic settings of the Chowrangi village in West Bengal, these empowered women milk producers ranging from age 20 to 80, have now begun to think of themselves as important stakeholders in a potential organic-farming driven rural economy. As members of the Chowrangi Women Dairy Cooperative Society (CWDCS), they collect milk from native cow breeds, pour them in steel milk cans and diligently present their product at the co-operative’s collection centre for testing. Women assemble at Chowrangi Women Dairy Cooperative Society’s milk collection centre in Basanti, West Bengal. This is one of 70 all-women run co-operative operating in the Sundarban region. Photo by Kartik Chandramouli/Mongabay. Their vision is climate-resilient agriculture in this disaster-prone delta. Like island nations of Tuvalu, Marshall and Maldives, the Sundarbans archipelago straddling the India-Bangladesh border too faces an intensifying barrage of climate impacts. “We have been through floods that washed our fields with salt and then came (cyclone) Aila in 2009. Paddy fields sank. Livestock was killed. For years we could not do adequate cultivation due to the salt-encrusted soil. Heavy use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides have further degraded systems. Now rainfall patterns have also changed,” said livestock owner Suparna Deb Sharma and chairperson of the CWDCS. “We don’t want to depend on nature so our reliance is on organic farming,” she told this visiting Mongabay-India correspondent. The dominating colour in this countryside is green and blue. Close to three hours away from the state capital Kolkata, the monotone of this verdant landscape is only broken by the rustle of these women’s colourful sarees, the meandering red-brown brick-paved paths and the occasional concrete structures. Urbanisation is spreading fast, Suparna Deb Sharma said. In this climate change hotspot, women have learnt to live on the edge with rising sea levels and salt water intrusion. Globalisation is also making its presence felt. “We use mobile phones now for our day to day affairs and soon we want to own smartphones. We do know about the demand for organic foods and we want to learn more,” she said. Beaming with pride, Suparna Deb Sharma spoke of “taking matters into our own hands and transforming our systems into organic as it was done traditionally as part of inherited agricultural systems.” Suparna Deb Sharma, chairperson of the CWDCS. Photo by Kartik Chandramouli/Mongabay. Of the 102 islands of the Indian Sundarbans archipelago, Chowrangi lies in Basanti block, one of the better off islands out of the 54 inhabited ones. Women form about 49 percent of the population. Connected by a highway to Kolkata, Basanti is also the gateway for tourists to the Sundarbans- the world’s largest mangrove forests, the lair of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Sonakhali, opposite Basanti, is a popular starting point for Sundarbans steamer and launch trips. According to Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the total area under organic certification process (registered under the National Programme for Organic Production) is 3.56 million hectare (2017-18). The DCS is now gunning for organic certification, Deb Sharma informed.