Agri Business

How farmers in Maharashtra are enhancing their income amid Covid crisis

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on June 18, 2020

Fish farming is a secondary enterprise for farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions of Maharashtra   -  Atish Pomburfekar

They sell fish and milk products directly to consumers to sustain losses in farming

The Centre has set an ambitious target to double farmers’ income by 2022 but many farmers in drought-prone regions of Maharashtra are already close to the target, that too amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Washim district in Vidarbha is known for freshwater fish farming and fish farmers usually sell their produce to brokers at ₹70 per kg. But during the Covid-19 crisis, as the chain of brokers broke down, fish farmers sold their produce directly to consumers at ₹200/kg, which fetched them ₹130 extra per kg. Fish farming is a secondary enterprise for farmers here and the income they got from fish farming will help them sustain the losses in farming.

The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has documented innovative experiments of farmers in Maharashtra’s suicide zones of Marathwada and Vidarbha. The document, titled Innovative Agri-Solutions During Covid-19, also covers the efforts taken by farmers elsewhere in India.

The battle against Covid-19 by farmers in the drought zone is significant considering the series of natural disasters causing damage to crops and pushing farmers into distress. Devastated by a severe drought last year followed by unseasonal rains and then the pandemic, farmers in Marathwada and Vidarbha regions have put up a resilient fight during lockdown.

Milk producers

For milk producer farmers in Takli in Amravati district, the lockdown came as a blessing in disguise. About 1,600-litre milk is produced daily in the village. With the direct connection with consumers, farmers got a price of ₹60 per litre for buffalo milk and ₹40 per litre for cow milk. Farmers are also trying their hand in producing milk products. “Farmers of Takali village are getting ₹80,000 daily and ₹24 lakh a month by selling direct to consumer and making value-added products,” the ICAR report said.

Farmers in Beed came up with the idea of ‘markets on wheels’ as traditional mandis stopped operations during the lockdown. With the help of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) scientists and local officials, farmers got licences to sell their goods to consumers. Hundreds of farmers in Aurangabad joined hands to form a supply chain connecting to consumers.

‘Farm to Kitchen’

The alternative marketing and supply chain proved valuable for farmers in Nanded, who reaped the benefits of the direct sale of vegetables. KVK in Jalna developed the ‘Farm to Kitchen’ e-commerce website for online purchase of fruits and vegetables.

“Covid has taught many lessons and the important lesson for us is that one has to find solutions to problems instead of complaining and succumbing to the situation,” said Kaka Thote, a farmer in Aurangabad. Even as farmer suicides continue in Marathwada and Vidarbha, there are many farmers who have shown the way forward, Thote added.

Published on June 18, 2020

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