Agri Business

How women farmers are helping Marathwada cope with Covid-19

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on April 06, 2020

Groups of five distribute foodgrains and soaps, and spread awareness on containing the pandemic

If there’s one saying that the women farmers of Marathwada believe in, it is — self-help is the best help.

The women have formed small groups to ensure that no one sleeps on an empty stomach. They are also helping the district administration contain the spread of the pandemic.

“The lockdown is having a major impact on women, especially women farmers and widows,” said Archana Mane from Ansurda village in Osmanabad. “There is no work, no wages, and very little foodgrain. The situation is worsening as those who had migrated to cities are now back in the villages. We have joined hands to collect foodgrain and other essential requirements like soaps and provide them to needy women.” Archana and other women have approached big farmers in the locality to collect foodgrain and distribute it to needy families.

There are about 1,500 women like Archana who are working in groups of five with gram panchayats to ensure that villagers get sufficient foodgrain and also protect themselves from the infection. These women are part of the Sakhi Task Force (STF), formed in 300 villages across Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded and Solapur districts. The Swayam Shikshan Prayog has activated the STF, which is working with gram panchayats on home and community quarantine, detection of early symptoms and referrals to health centres. The task force has identified 5,000 households that are headed by women, or are landless, for ration and hygiene kit distribution.

“If supported, women lead the crisis action from the front. Our sakhis are educators and counsellors, and keeping up the social fabric or spirit with physical distancing,” Prema Gopalan, founder and Executive Director of Swayam Shikshan Prayog, told BusinessLine.

Jaishree Koli from Nagarsuga village said the women have voluntarily stepped out to help others. “ We have to play a role in the hour of crisis and can't just hope that everything will be right without any effort,” she added.

Disasters are not new to the Marathwada region. It has witnessed a devastating earthquake that killed 10,000 people in Latur in 1993, the memories of which still haunt the entire region. Drought is perennial and farmer suicides are frequent here. Now, the pandemic fear has gripped the minds of the people with the detection of a few cases.

“Poor farmers and landless labourers are worried about the future. We are telling them that whatever is the circumstance, we shall fight together,” said Archana.

Published on April 06, 2020

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