1. Success Story

Meet Delhi teen who helps ‘deprived farmers’ in Vidarbha; increased their income by 25%

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

Vidarbha in Maharashtra is a place which has long been associated with the farmers’ suicides.  From the year 1998 to 2018, India has recorded a massive 3 lakh farmer suicide cases.

For many of us, this may just be a figure as we read and discuss the suicide cases and later forget it. But for Aarnav Aggarwal this was more than just numbers. 17-year old teenager’s efforts in the last 3 years has been significant in saving hundreds of farmers from losing hope in Vidarbha after major crop failures.  

UjjBhav, or Ujjwal Bhavisha, which means ‘bright future’ is an exclusive mentorship programme started by Aarnav who hails from Delhi. The programme not only aims to reach the root of the agrarian crisis but also helps the farmers in solving their issues.

Telling about how everything started, Aarnav said, he visited Vidarbha at the age of 14.  Even at this young age, he wanted to do something to help the farmers. So he started talking to farmers and soon realized that they weren’t frank in sharing their problems. Then one day he met award-winning farmer B R Kathalkar. The co-founder of UjjBhav and Aarnav’s guide, Kathalkar hosted the young boy in his own house and this was how they started working together.

Besides his farmer group, Krishi Vikas Audyogic Saha Sanstha, created in 2001 with 48 superior farmers and agri experts, he helped extend the plan to its actual beneficiaries (small and marginal) farmers.   

How UjjBhav works?

With around 452 farmers and agri experts, UjjBhav has launched a mentorship programme where underprivileged or depressed farmers are connected with the successful farmers and professionals in the field. And these people support them through daily field-related issues. They tell them about government schemes, enroll them to avail the benefits or direct them through the process of crop selection to crop realization. And all of this is done completely free of cost.

When they first started talking to the farmers, Aarnav came to know that their problems were too many with no particular solution. From degrading quality of soil, low production, loss of crop due to bugs, middle-men interference, increased debts, these deprived farmers were stuck in an infinite circle, where suicide seemed to be a better option than tackling the problems. Identified as the cotton-belt, most of the farmers here suffered huge losses after the pink bollworm bug attack. And as the process of growing cotton was so slow they didn’t get returns even on their initial investment. Another problem was their growing dependence on the use of chemical pesticides.

A direct result of the programme over the last 3 years has been that farmers are moving towards organic farming.

Additionally, after realizing that cotton was bringing them losses, the farmers used intercropping techniques, where they planted two or more varieties on the same portion of land. This had not only helped them recover their initial investment but also brought profits. Aarnav told, “Most of these farmers have seen a 25 percent rise in their income.”

UjjBhav’s devoted team of volunteers make weekly as well as seasonal reports about the progress or development on the ground. Aarnav himself remains in touch with all the members on daily basis in Vidarbha. The best thing of this entire initiative is that most of the costs are borne by Aarnav, volunteers and mentor farmers.

Presently the group is also working towards reviving infertile community land in the region. So far, they have planted over 6,150 trees in the region and hope to plant 10,000 by December.

For more information contact at
aarnav@ujjbhav.com or visit UjjBhav’s website.

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