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Breathing life into the suicide capital of India

Pankaj Mahalle, Co-founder at GramHeet comes from a very humble background. Being from the community of rural farmers he knows about their perils firsthand. For the 9th edition of Impact Dialogues, we had four farmers from Yavatmal. They shared vividly about how GramHeet & Rang De Social investors have made a big difference in their lives. Yavatmal is a small village tucked away in the interior of Maharashtra. It bears a grim tag to its name - The suicide capital of India. But our Impact Partner - GramHeet is working hard to change the status quo. Their intervention over the past year has shown progressive change. “During my childhood, I could see my parents in worry once they harvested the crop. The repayment of the debt, the uncertainty of the prices often kept them in despair.” shared Pankaj. The inception of GramHeet was to aid farmers with pre and post-harvesting services. To assure promising results for their hard work and save them from plunging them into debt cycles. It is sad that cotton farmers here can't provide new clothes to their kids. Food-producing farmers have to wait in long lines to get ration supplies. Such is the state of farmers.” says Pankaj. GramHeet works in collaboration with Village Trade Centres and has established a product of practice to revert the agrarian crisis. They provide a bundle of services with a ‘farmers first approach’ which is as follows -

1. Post Harvest credit GramHeet provides instant, low-cost, post-harvest credit to farmers against their stored produce. The urgency of cash around harvest season is highly unmet. Farmers often pay 40-100% to informal moneylenders. Through GramHeet they are able to store the produce, get immediate cash against the crop and reap profit from the seasonal price gain. Social investments through Rang De provide the necessary funds required by the farmers. 2. Market Linkage Often the framework in villages for deciding the price of crops is informal. The arbitrary prices often exploit the farmers. GramHeet has pioneered a Foodgrains Quality analysis Lab that ascertains farmers absolute transparency in price determination. GramHeet directly deals with big producers cutting the intermediaries off the chain resulting in better prices for farmers. 3. Storage Facility Farmers usually do not have access to storage facilities. They sell at low prices in the apprehension of crop ruin often making a marginal profit. The greater share of profits is earned by traders who manipulate the market and prices. GramHeet provides near the farm and affordable storage facilities and enables farmers to hold their crops and sell them at the right time. Rupesh, a soybean farmer, shared with us that his harvest was ready in the month of October. At the time the price for soybean was Rs 4000 per quintal. With the help of GramHeet he held onto his produce until June. He then sold his harvest at Rs 7000 per quintal. Making an additional profit of Rs 20000. With the help of this, he bought chana seeds and fertilizers for the next season. 4. Primary processing services Primary processing facilities are inaccessible and unaffordable for smallholder farmers who supply limited quantities of produce. This hinders better price realization for them. GramHeet provides value-added services at the farm gate that include cleaning, grading, sorting, and packaging services at minimal costs, bringing multifold returns. It also creates employment opportunities for women in the village. The farmers in Yavatmal will continue to need loans. It will help them manage expenses and hold their crop. Rang De Social Investments give them the freedom to decide the price of their produce. As shared by Surekha, “I held onto my produce until I got the right price. The loan really helped me to manage my expenses and avoid selling at low prices. With the profit I made, I purchased two goatlings.”

Joyful smiles as two women showcase adorable baby goats.

"Born and brought up in the smallholder farming community of Yavatmal district in Maharashtra, both Pankaj and I, experienced the struggles of this community since childhood. And these are the struggles that have left deep imprints in our hearts which continue to shape our work today. - Shweta, co-founder at GramHeet

GramHeet doesn't take any cut from the farmers’ seasonal profit. They empathize with farmers and work to ensure their livelihood. Rang De social Investments back their initiative through timely low-cost credit. This partnership is visibly game-changing and has the potential to scale greater heights. Your Social investments have been a big relief for farmers and the story from Yavatmal bears testimony to it. If you wish to support farmers head onto and make your social investment today! All images are accredited to GramHeet

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