Hope you had a wonderful Independence Day. It has been an eventful three months for the team, and we are excited to share with you updates on our projects and fundraisers. Here goes!
Saint Tukaram was a 17th century poet, who wrote ” – wherever I go, you are my saangaati (meaning, guide or navigator). Last summer, Dindayal Bahuuddeshiya Prasarak Mandal worked with 40 farmers from four villages (Pathari, Borsinha, Shivani, and Malkhed) belonging to different agro-climatic zones in Yavatmal to try out organic farming practices on a part of their land (1-3 acres)”. Farmers replaced pesticides with herbal pest controllers such as neem extract and dashaparni ark (extract of 10 herbs). They also developed organic fertilizers such as jeevamrut (a liquid organic manure) and jeewamrut (a liquid herbal tonic and pest controller). Overall, these practices helped in increasing their yield by 1.2 to 1.6 times.
Making dashparni and jeewamrut
Following the success of our pilot project, we now plan to roll this out to 600 farmers over the next two crop seasons (~1 year). In addition to the farmers, one additional family member will be enrolled in the program. Farmers will benefit from the know-how of our agricultural experts and in return, points will be earned by the household members. These points can then be redeemed for soil testing, water storage, access to educational resources and so on. Our fundraising target for this project $67,000. We currently have 12 local coordinators managing this project, and we are looking for more on-the-ground resources.
Water is a primary necessity for life, and effective management of water resources is critical to sustainable development. Often, farmers take loans to drill bore wells, and their rate of use is far greater than the rate of replenishment, leaving them high and dry after a couple of years. We have begun a bore-well recharge project with Sankalpa Rural Development Society, wherein we have completed the recharge of 7 borewells in multiple villages of Dharur Taluk in Beed District. As part of this pilot project, we plan on recharging 5 to 10 more borewells in other regions of India. We will be evaluating the impact via various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as flow of water from the borewells, amount of time water is available after monsoon is over and number of crops farmers are able to cultivate in a given year. We hope to see positive results in the next 6 months, after which we plan on scaling this project to 200 borewells in various parts of India.
The name Bundelkhand may bring to mind the recent famous Bollywood historical bio-pic â€œBajirao Mastaniâ€, where Mastani was born to Bundelkhandâ€™s Maharaja. In the last few years, Bundelkhand has been affected by severe drought, so much so that the farmers have become day laborers and struggle to get enough food for their own families. After many months of research, we have identified a local NGO, Parmarth, to collaborate with in this region. For immediate help, we sent Parmarth $5040 to set up a community kitchen where grain and supplies are provided, and the villagers gather together to cook and eat. We plan on supporting this for a few months until the monsoon begins and the farmers start harvesting their crops. For the long-term, we have been working with Parmarth on understanding the key problems in this area and identifying the ones that we can help address.
In our previous newsletter, we shared with you our efforts in making educational apps from Pratham accessible to kids and teachers in Yavatmal district. Following that, we decided to extend the use of these apps to educate farmers about organic cultivation practices. We identified useful videos from MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and dubbed them into Marathi. We organized a door-to-door campaign to show farmers in 3 districts these organic farming ideas, and over 375 farmers have now started implementing these practices. We look forward to seeing them reap the rich harvest of their hard work!
We visited 7 Talukas of Washim and Beed districts and interviewed families (~20 in Washim and ~80 in Beed) with recent farmer suicides to get a picture of their socio-economic conditions. Based on data from this survey, such as land area, current loan amount and number of children, we shortlisted 12-15 widows whom we could help start a small business to sustain their families. After subsequent conversations with them to better gauge their interests and abilities, we have finalized support for 11 women from Washim. Four of them started their goat grazing small-business last month.Â
Borisinh Village Project
It was a harsh summer for the Yavatmal district with major water issues and consistent rise in temperatures. In these dry times, there is less grass for fodder, and most of the farmers who received buffaloes from SoCCs credits 5-6 months back reported a decrease in their milk yield. The good news is that the monsoons are on time, and that will alleviate their situation. We are sorting out some logistical road-blocks in Phase-II of our project, and we are working to resolve them.
Micro-loans in Varuna
Last quarter, we began providing micro-loans of Rs. 8000 each (at 5% interest) to 10 women farmers in Varuna, Karnataka for their paddy farms. To follow-up on their socio-economic conditions, a group of SIF volunteers visited Varuna along with a representative each from Rang De and SVYM. We found out that the farmers have sufficient access to water and the market since the village is located near a major highway. The areas that they could use some help in are getting access to resources from their local agricultural universities as well as maximizing utilization of government subsidies and schemes.
KALP concert (June 18 2016): We collaborated with Hidden Gems to host the Kalyanji Anandji Laxmikant Pyarelal concert in Skillman, NJ. Over 750 people attended this event, and we raised $20000 for our Kisan Mitra and Saangaati projects.
Art N Beat Recital (July 8, 2016): Smt. Kavita Krishnamurti and her son Ambi Subramaniam gave a wonderful performance at Edison, NJ, following which we spread the word about Save Indian Farmers to the audience. India Mela (Aug 13-14, 2016):A group of middle-school kids from San Ramon, CA did a fabulous job raising $2,000 for our borewell recharge project at the Independence Day mela in Fremont.
Farming in the News
- What was planted this sowing season and how much: http://www.reuters.com/
- Monsoon updates:Â http://www.aljazeera.
com/news/2016/08/south-asian- monsoon-brings-cheer-indias- farmers-160810084657131.html
- Recent paper in the International Journal of Climatology on predicting Indian monsoons:Â https://www.
- Why Rajasthan farmers are growing more pulses and less guar:Â http://indianexpress.
com/article/india/india-news- india/rajasthan-farmers-ditch- guar-switch-to-pulses-this- time-2939406/
- On livelihoods that engage respectfully with the earth:Â http://www.
- Send us your ideas if youâ€™re interested in planning any fundraising events and keep spreading awareness about the lives of the hands that feed all of us.
Save Indian Farmers