Five individual NRIs came together and started an organization called i4Farmers, which is recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in USA, with a mission is to work towards engaging the society with farmers in India, to enable projects for sustainable agriculture and create a platform for NRis to help farmers.
In 2013, i4Farmers organizationwas started to provide minimal financial help to 21 widows, from Vidarbha, whose husbands committed suicide due to losses in agriculture. This year we are repeating this since the unfortunate situations still continue to prevail. And to clarify further, none of us are related to the farmers, nor is anyone of us from Maharashtra.The only thing common amongst all of us and the only reason why we came together, other than of course being Indians is that we all eat food. In 2014, so far, i4Farmers organization sponsored 20 students from Warangal to pursue their education, whose parent committed suicide, also helped 20 widows from Vidarbha to cover their losses by sowing seeds multiple times this year. The organization also helped a backward farmer from U.Rajapalem in Kadapa district to setup drip irrigation in their land. In partnership with Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), i4Farmers adopted Charlapally, Shekguda, Umri, Punaguda, Kappardevi villages, in Adilabad district and helping tribal farmers to adopt more sustainable farming and reduce the usage of synthetic chemicals in their cotton crops, organization also adopted Karirwalivillage in Faridkot area of Punjab to promote Organic farming.
When the farmer tills the land, sows the seeds, irrigates the land, protects the crop, harvests it at the end and finally sells the crop - the farmer doesn't label the food as "Politicians Only" or "Scientists Only" or "NGOs only". The farmer works hard so each one of us can eat three times a day, it's a different story that the farmer doesn't get to eat three times a day, and such is the harsh reality.
So when the farmer doesn't make the distinction who gets to eat the food, why do we discriminate as to who should be the eons who can help. Each one of us has a responsibility - a responsibility to help. No we don't have to help irrigate the land nor do we have to harvest, just be there when the farmer needs the most.
These are all the things, we as individuals can do and must do - else we are looking at a bleak future where food will be grown by the corporates and for the corporates. This is no exaggeration. If the farmer doesn't want their next generation to become a farmer and very few from our generation is encouraged to take up farming who will share the burden or responsibility of feeding the country?
These are all grave concerns requiring immediate attention and demanding a focused approach to address these concerns, rightfully so. As individuals, even if we don't have the know-how and the expertise, we can pick and choose where we could and we must help.
Helping Vidarbha farm windows - 2nd year in a row is just a small attempt in this direction. i4Farmershelped 21 farm widows last year by soliciting donations from NRI's mostly and few others from India. This year, we extended help to 20 farm widows. Similarly, small contributions from individuals helped 20 students from Warangal who could not continue their education as their sole breadwinner committed suicide.
India is facing a colossal agrarian crisis where more than quarter million farmers' suicides have been reported in the last 16 years and it is estimated that every day 2000 farmers are leaving farming. The tragic effects of this crisis demands the attention of one and all to address the issue.Hopefully more and more people come forward to actively contribute towards farmers issues and together strive for a day where there would be no need for the farmer to commit suicide. i4Famers participated in India Day Parade, 2014 in New York city to bring farmers' issues to the mainstream. The Parade was an occasion of celebration of our great history, our successes and the promising future our country looks into; we believe this is also an occasion to introspect the challenging crisis that our nation is facing today. Farmers' crisis is one such challenge that every one of us should think about and take action.
Please visit the website www.i4farmers.org for more details and information. You can also contact i4Farmers though their email address: [email protected]