This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Ruchira Roy. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

National Farmer’s Day: This Marginal Farmer Made A Killing Despite A Long Latur Drought

More from Ruchira Roy

So, how did Balasaheb Yadav made ₹4 lakh by growing a single crop in less than a year with input cost of ₹40,000? Clue: it wasn’t sugarcane.

RTI data reveals that about 15,000 farmers have killed themselves in the last six years in Maharashtra alone. Crop failures, wrecked rainfall patterns and dry spells, debt pile, illnesses, financial and social pressure, and alcoholism along with a ubiquitous lack of hope, may have been the heartbreaking triggers behind the spate of suicides. But this National Farmer’s Day, we find a glimmer of hope in farmers like the 36-year-old Balasaheb Yadav, a marginal farmer with four acres of land on whom the fortune smiled once he decided to make a bold decision.

Balasaheb Yadav, a marginal farmer from Latur who is prospering in a state that has witnessed 15000 farmer suicides in the last six years

Balasaheb Yadav, along with his brother, worked at a petrol pump in Latur city, traveling for an hour from their home, all for a measly ₹1000 a month, DESPITE being owners of four acres of land in Latur district’s Jewali village.

Last year was particularly bad for Latur farmers with inordinate delays in the arrival of monsoons, even as other parts of the state jostled with flooding and water clogging. In the last few years, there has been a focused effort by civil society, NGOs, environmental organizations and social activists to support the agricultural community in coming up with sustainable solutions on multiple fronts—making more water available for farming and introducing and training farmers in drought or flood-resistant cropping patterns and an increasing impetus on using non-chemical or natural inputs that can be made at home from domestically available ingredients at near-zero cost.

Under one such initiative being run by The Art of Living and donor organizations called ‘Integrated Natural Resource Management’ in the summers of 2017, Balasaheb Yadav took training in natural farming and drought-resistant farming techniques. This was particularly useful in a place like Latur which is very often faced with dry spells or delays in monsoons because of its location on the leeward side of mountains. The clouds carrying moisture are often dispersed on the windward side, before reaching the leeward side, leaving it dry.

When we delve deeper into the causes of farmers’ distress, one finds a dark and dangerous myth that has been perpetuated among farmers for years: use of chemicals increase yield. What nobody told them further is the nutritional degradation and the permanent nature of the impact these chemicals had on the fertility of the soil, forcing farmers to increase the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides incrementally. Pesticides affected the produce as much as the health of the farmers who were the first line of consumers themselves, apart from affecting the health of ultimate buyers.

Before Yadav was trained with ideas and techniques to practice farming without the use of chemicals, his input costs would considerably eat into the price he fetched for his produce. For produce worth ₹70,000, his inputs costs were in the tune of ₹35,000. Also, he had a family of six to take care of, a huge amount of loan to repay for the bore well he built through the government scheme, adding to his financial instability.

Balasaheb with his family

The Art of Living, which has been working with farmers in Latur district for the last seven years, trained Balasaheb Yadav in making inputs at zero cost at home to drastically cut down on the input costs first. These included all the natural inputs for farming at home like bio enzymes, biofertilizers (made from cow dung and urine) and vermicompost. Along with this, Yadav was also trained extensively in mixed cropping techniques to diversify the climatic risks in cropping, so that he could grow chana, soybean and vegetables after the intervention by The Art of Living.

Armed with the education in mixed cropping, in 2017, Yadav took up banana in once acre of land with drip irrigation with the idea of efficiently producing more crop per drop, while other farmers still grew sugarcane, a rather water-intensive crop. He has adopted water and soil conservation techniques.

“In 2018, I implemented it in my banana plantation, developed using drip irrigation and chemical-free farming. The market price was ₹10-12 for others, while bananas from my farms were selling for ₹40. The customers were impressed with the quality and taste. It stayed edible even after for 3-4 days of purchase,” says Yadav.

“I made ₹4 lacs in my four acres of land, and all the bananas were sold via order. My input cost was under ₹40,000. Later, I planted cucumber and reaped ₹40,000 over 15 gunthas cultivated. There is not even a rupee of external cost involved here,” Yadav shares.

The Art of Living has helped him and 15 other farmers tie-up with a major oil mill in the area, which has agreed to purchase their produce directly for the next three years, while farmers earn a successful certification in the process, for which they would have to shell out a lot of money and time otherwise. Certification gives a boost to their efforts and gives them much-needed credibility required.

Balasaheb’s mother says, “We had bigger loans than profits earlier from the land. I used to work as a labourer in other’s farms, but that was not enough. After practising chemical-free farming and cutting down on inputs, we had more profit margins for the last two years, we have been able to pay off our loan as there are no expenses. Nobody has fallen ill in my house after we have started eating naturally grown food.”

Award winning Manjara River Rejuvenation Projent

The Manjara River Rejuvenation Project of The Art of Living has also brought backwater to the community, opening up doors for more farmers to now grow cash crops too. Balasaheb decided to invest in bore well to secure irrigation while working on reducing irrigation water demand as well. “I have no water issues; my bore wells and wells are all full. The water level has risen, especially after the project. The river is just a kilometre away, and the benefits are there for everyone to see. What better service can there be for the farmers than providing all these tools to them,” he shares.

You must be to comment.

More from Ruchira Roy

Similar Posts

By MADHAVENDRA SINGH

By Pallav Banerjee

By Saurabh Gandle

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at actnow@youthkiawaaz.com

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.









        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below