Smallholder Farmers fight the Pandemic

Ms. Sribai Adiwasi a widow is living with her two sons, daughters-in-law and two grandchildren. She belongs to Vanpura village of Sagar district in Madhya Pradesh. “Earlier life was very difficult for our family anyway but now due to this pandemic it’s like the unexpected disaster for our family”, says Sribai. Mr. Laxman Adiwasi son of Ms. Sribai Adiwasi narrates, “I went to a market in Vanpura village and the cops chased me out from the marketplace. Next day the cops asked me what is wrong with you? Do you know the condition of the global pandemic? I gently smiled & replied, I am an agricultural labourer and I need to purchase ration because my 6 years old daughter Ms. Princy Adiwasi is craving for wholesome meal since the last 40 hours”.

During Lock-down many smallholder farmers lost their additional sources of livelihood. Most of the villagers were dependent upon daily wages in Madhya Pradesh and were unable to earn & fulfil their daily requirements. Farmers also expressed their lack of information & resource about global pandemic (COVID-19).

“Imagine a 6 years old girl having a wholesome meal after 40 hours of being hungry during this global pandemic You will witness the shine of a Million-dollar smile on such a face”, said Mr. Santosh Ahiwar (VRP) during a video meeting. Extremely poor families are not able to arrange even a single wholesome meal because of limited option in livelihood. In rural India a number of challenges emerged but the brave souls are fighting their way out for survival. As of now Indian Government has announced social distancing and lock-down to reduce the risk of global pandemic. Today the world is fighting against COVID-19 outbreak and superpowers like USA, China, & European union has almost surrendered in this biological disaster. In this vulnerable situation the brave souls have no option rather than hoping for a magic wand for their well-being. However, Caritas India (SAFBIN) together with MVSS & JDSSS launched a Mission COVID-19, with the objective of “No financially backward community will sleep without food until lock-down is lifted”.

With this background, SAFBIN supported the Rojgar Sewak, Sarpanch and village resource persons to prepare a list of people that needed support based on the vulnerability such as widow women, physically challenged, senior citizen and PLW group.

To address the challenges several steps were taken by the MVSS & JDSSS together with Caritas India (SAFBIN). In the intitial phase, community kitchen was installed nearby a railway station in Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh with the joint efforts of stakeholders. Food packets were distributed to more than 50 HH footpath & slum dwellers. Around 8 wall paintings were initiated by the women leader to spread awareness about the proper mechanism of safety kits among the community. Folk songs on COVID-19 awareness lyrics has been very popular among farmers which was composed by Mr. Dinesh Namdev (Program Coordinator). More than 9,500 safety kits (Mask, sanitizer & Soap) and around 2,500 dry rations distributed to smallholder farmers including Mandla & Sagar district of Madhya Pradesh. Caritas India (SAFBIN) together with stakeholders and MVSS provided counselling to migrant labors who lost their source of livelihood and were facing mental trauma of social inequality at their hometown. SAFBIN will continue to focus on farm diversification that has proved to be helping farmers resilient to the pandemic.