In the heart of India, the drought-prone region of Marathwada, Maharashtra, a revolution is taking place. Small and marginal farmers are being empowered, communities are being uplifted, and the fight against climate change is being waged. At the forefront of this movement is Manavlok, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of marginalised communities.
In this blog post, we present some insights from a Q&A session with Aniket Lohiya, Secretary at Manavlok we hosted recently to understand Manavlok’s mission, their impact, and how you can get involved.
Q: Can you tell us about the Marathwada Farmers and the challenges they face?
Marathwada, a region in Maharashtra, is known for its scanty rainfall, which poses significant challenges for its predominantly agriculture-based population. The region's climatic conditions make farming an uphill battle, with the 2015-16 period being particularly harsh due to a severe drought. This drought led to an acute water scarcity that severely impacted crop irrigation.
Farmers in Marathwada traditionally grow two types of crops: kharif crops, which are sown with the onset of the first rains in July, and rabi crops, which are sown around November. However, due to the water scarcity, farmers were only able to harvest kharif crops, while the cultivation of rabi crops became entirely dependent on the unpredictable monsoon rains.
This uncertainty around their primary source of livelihood led many farmers to migrate in search of work, leaving behind families who had to grapple with the harsh realities of their absence.
Recognizing these challenges, Manavlok has been working tirelessly for the last 40 years to support these dryland farmers.
Q. How does the Marathwada Farmer Fund help small farmers?
Manavlok's approach is multifaceted, focusing on providing both tangible resources and financial support. We assist farmers by supplying irrigation systems and essential agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilisers. These resources are crucial in helping farmers maintain their farms despite the challenging climatic conditions.
In addition to providing resources, Manavlok also established credit access with support of Rang De Social investors to address the farmers' credit needs.
The Marathwada Farmer Fund operates on a simple yet effective principle: farmers are provided with seeds and fertilisers at the beginning of the farming cycle, and once the crops are harvested and sold, the farmers repay the fund. This system ensures that farmers have the necessary resources when they need them most, without the burden of immediate repayment or high-interest rates.
80% of the farms in the region are dryland farmers. They need a loan of 25-50k to execute the rabi crops. The private moneylenders charge anywhere from 20-30%. The Rang De loan, provided at 8% to these farmers, comes in as a big relief.
Q: What are your future plans and how crucial is this fund?
A: We aim to continue expanding our reach to more farmers in the Marathwada region. We also plan to introduce more sustainable farming practices and technologies to help farmers adapt to climate change.
Our ultimate goal is to create a self-sustaining ecosystem where farmers are empowered to improve their livelihoods while also contributing to food security and environmental sustainability.
The work being done by Rang De and Manavlok in Marathwada is not just about providing financial assistance to farmers. It's about empowering them to improve their livelihoods, combating climate change, and ensuring food security in the region.
By investing in the Marathwada Farmer Fund, we are not just making a financial investment; we are investing in a brighter, more sustainable future for the farmers of Marathwada and for India as a whole.
Through these combined efforts, Manavlok is not only helping Marathwada's farmers navigate the immediate challenges posed by drought and water scarcity but also equipping them with the tools and resources they need to build a more sustainable and resilient future.
Your social investments can make a real difference in the lives of farmers in the Marathwada region, visit rangde.in/marathwada-farmer to invest in the Marathwada Farmer Fund today!