Wardha district is one of the 35 districts in Maharashtra state in western India. This district is part of Nagpur division. Wardha is primarily an agriculture oriented district. Cotton farming and soyabean cultivation in kharif is quite common. Recently the district has been in news because of a number of suicides that have been committed by the farmers owing to the agricultural loans they cannot repay with the major reasons being bad crops, droughts and lack of irrigation facilities in the region.
Kamalnayan Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation (KJBF) in Wardha is doing many activities for rural people's betterment. These activities are aimed at protection of natural resources, agriculture, social progress and providing options of livelihood. Integrated approach of all these activities led to reducing poverty in the villages.
The main livelihood support i.e. agriculture should be supplemented with agro processing facilities and direct outlet for the farmers to sale their produce. Mono cropping has its own drawback of making the agriculture dependent on middle person driven forward linkages and loss of bargaining power by the farmers. Small and marginal farmers are the most affected. Second most important think is small and marginal farmers do not have storage space to hold the farm produce and wait for profitable market price.
KJBF has successfully take up the promotion of multi cropping to minimize the risk of total crop failure as well as making the things easy for farmers to sale the produce in weekly markets. Every year Grain Festival has been organized to build direct consumer linkage which has led to opening of permanent outlet at district place where farmers began to sale fresh vegetables, fruits and other agricultural produce. This is improving their profit margins and they regain their bargain power. They need not to wait for season end to earn money. They are earning almost every day and thus relieved from financial distress. Besides KJBF is also helping the families to establish small scale processing units for the crops cultivated by them. For example, processing of wheatm sorghum into Papad, Chilli and tamarind into Chatani, fruits into pickles, etc. This is not only the value addition but also generated employment opportunities for the landless poor families of the village. Thus agriculture can reduce poverty in the village. The following case story illustrate the same.
Rural Poor Family Striving Hard for Sustaining Livelihood
Maina Dnyneshwar Vasu is 55 years old living in village Pimpalgaon of Deoli taluk of Wardha district and is a member of Shri. Swami Samarth self-help group formed in 2009. She has 2 sons. Both of them are married. Elder son lives separately in the same village with his family while younger divorcee son lives with them. They own 5 acres of irrigated land. Her husband could not help in farming as he is suffering from health problems.
Since last 15 years they are living in the farm in a small hut. Repeated failure of crops in the past few years made their conditions miserable. Their present financial condition could not support the farming. They even could not afford any fan inside the house. Maina lacks the access to proper health care services due to poor financial conditions. They also do not have ration benefits as they come under OBC category.
Maina is guided to initiate an income generating activity for improving her financial conditions during SHG meetings. She was confident that Garam Masals prepared by her would impress the consumers and so she began to sale this product since 2014. Her son Manoj began to sale the Garam Masala in the village and nearby villages on his bike. He also began to sale Sabudana and dry coconut along with homemade Garam Masala. As a part of marketing strategy, he sale the quality products at a comparatively cheaper price than available in the village grocery shop. He earns Rs.400 weekly through this income generating activity. For further improving the income Maina thought of selling Groundnut Laddu, Sesame laddu and mix Groundnut and Futana Laddu. She was helped to try out these products in the market during organization of mass gatherings by KJBF.
KJBF representative further guided them to adopt practices of zero budget natural farming for cultivation of their land. They are also motivated to collect the quotations of the required machineries and having a business plan. They were supported with the required finance through revolving fund by KJBF.
Now they are growing onion, chilli and coriander seeds required for Garam Masala along with sun hemp, cotton, pigeon pea and vegetables. They are selling Sharbat of sun hemp flowers which is medicinal and protect from sun stroke. They sale vegetables at village level. They were helped to develop market in Nagpur and Wardha by rendering them opportunity to participate in Agriculture exhibitions. Now their monthly income has raised to Rs.15000 and they are planning to reconstruct the house and could afford the medical care. The most important is the happiness and smile which the family has regained.