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Farmers In Bihar Have Been Struggling Since Before The Pandemic. Here’s Why. 

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According to The Bihar Economic Survey (2019-2020), agriculture supports the livelihood of three-fourth of the population of Bihar, the reason being 85% of the people live in rural areas and do not have access to other opportunities that require more skilled workers. On analysing this data closely, we can infer that the government must have spent a lot of money in this sector. Well, this we’ll find out further.

The History Of The Agricultural Roadmap Of Bihar

Let’s have a brief look over the programmes that the Bihar government initiated under its agricultural roadmap.

  • The first agricultural roadmap came up between (2008-2012).  Bihar achieved the highest rice production of 81 lakh metric tonnes in 2011-12 and was awarded the Krishi Karman Award.
  • The two-phase agricultural roadmap (2012-17 and 2017-22) focused on food security, the income of the farmers, nutrition, conservation of natural resources and so on.
  • And the third agricultural roadmap was launched by President Ram Nath Kovind that is the Bihar Krishi Roadmap (2017-22) that allocated rupees 1.54 lakh crores to the agricultural sector.

In 2013, Bihar ranked 74th in the Global Hunger Index even when Bihar achieved the highest rice production in 2011-12. Allocation of huge amounts and production of food grains in such a huge number builds up a lot of questions in the mind when headlines such as how an 11-year-old died of hunger in Mushahar Tola of Patna district or how an 8-year-old died of hunger in the Bhojpur district of Bihar during the lockdown.

Moreover, it’s not just about the production but the consumption by the people as well. According to an article by The Wire, the presence of arsenic and other metals was discovered in food grains exposing people to various health issues and even cancer.

The Bihar government came up with a lot of programmes under the Agricultural Road Map for the development of important factors such as the crops, irrigation facilities, fishers, dairy and livestock that would be taken into consideration and will be given due importance. However, a programme can only be successful with proper implementation and a genuine and successful reach to the people.

The adoption of new technology is a hurdle for farmers who aren’t very skilled or have enough knowledge as to how to operate. The contribution of monsoon flood and residual factors along with unorganised and unsystematic methods of marketing and development creates a lot of trouble as well.


Image source: Here.

The landholdings in Bihar are usually divided into two categories:-

  • Size-based division 
  • Gender-based division 

The major source of income for the people of Bihar comes from agriculture, forestry and fishing. With the data given above, we can very well understand the differences, for example, the concentration of average size of the landholding did not change over the previous years (2010-2011) and the concentration of land for the female workers was comparatively less than the male workers. Only the average size per holding was little more for the females.

The PM-Kisan Scheme, a central sector scheme that provides income support of 6,000 rupees per year, only had 26% of the registration while Uttar Pradesh with 23.82 million farmers had the registration of 73% farmers.

The forms are available online on the official website of but our representatives should also keep this thing in mind that not all farmers have the knowledge to use computers or have access to the internet. Moreover, the verification process, the time it takes and the complications in the entire procedure don’t make a policy effective and useful at all.

Another reality of the fund’s allocation cited by the Agriculture Ministry is that the funds promised under the scheme take so much time that in districts of Bihar such as Kishanganj, Araria only 3,200 and 2,600 farmers got their third installment. The conclusion is that a complex and time taking process is the biggest hurdle for the farmers.

The pandemic made the situation of farmers and migrant workers worse. The farmers couldn’t go out in the field due to lockdown and the parts of Bihar that experienced flood made the lives of each individual miserable. The crops got destroyed, some got washed away and others submerged in water. Millions in Bihar lost their livelihood.

Not all farmers are rich. Not all farmers have tractors and money to buy the essentials they need for their land for farming. Meanwhile, the load of clearance of loans and the abuse faced by farmers for growing food for us is taken so lightly by people that the word grateful for being able to have those fresh vegetables, pulses and grains in the kitchen seems very ordinary but it isn’t. Farmers are the backbone of our economy and they deserve a lot.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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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.

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