By Aruna Vayuvegula
As I sat down to dinner, the face of Sarojamma flashed before my eyes. It is farmers like her who need to be credited for the food that comes to our table. I got a glimpse of the efforts, challenges and struggles that farmers face when I went on a field trip to Dharani Farming and Marketing Cooperative society (Dharani) organized by Rang De.
One weekend, we drove to Dharani’s office (about 170 kms from Bangalore), in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, where we were given an overview of their activities. During the course of the visit, we met farmers who were harvesting their recent crop of millets. These are small time farmers who have joined Dharani and benefit immensely from the partnership.
Farming is not an easy task. Many of the farmers at Dharani face challenges in terms of infrastructure. For instance, after the millets are harvested, they are usually left out to dry in the sun. God forbid, if it rains, they have to immediately spread their tarpaulin sheet and secure their harvest. Labour is also a challenge. All farmers need their produce to be harvested at the same time. As a result, there is shortage of labour. They can’t keep their harvested produced longer than 30 days because it gets spoilt. So even a bumper crop comes with its own set of challenges.
Earlier, the prices of the produce were fixed at random by traders and the farmers ended up getting a raw deal. Dharani assures the farmers of a fixed price for their crop right at the beginning of the season.
During our visit to Dharani, the group of farmers answered our questions with enthusiasm and courtesy. It was amazing to listen to Sarojamma as she engaged with her peers. She was well versed with the interest rates that banks give, the interest rates of gold loans and more importantly, and was conscious of the fact that Rang De offers her credit for just 5%.
Later, I got to know that she has been associated with Rang De for long — first as a member of the Women’s Self-Help-Group (SHG) and now as one of the Directors of Dharani. It is her lively face that I recollected today as I sat for dinner.
What can we do to help?
It is farmers like Sarojamma that we can help. They don’t need charity, just a little nudge, a little support in earning their livelihood. They are more than capable of handling the rest.
When you become a social investor with Rang De, you get to choose who you wish to support — it could be an organization such as Dharani, it could be a weaver who urgently needs money to buy yarn, it could be a dairy farmer who is looking to buy cows and so on.
You choose depending on what cause resonates with you. Most importantly, everything is transparent via an online portal. Mind you, this is not a donation (you could make a donation too), but a loan. You get to earn a nominal interest but most importantly, you get a chance to make a difference to someone’s life.
I have been an investor with Rang De for the past two years and Dharani was my first investment. I was a great admirer of its parent organization Timbaktu Collective and so I didn’t need much convincing to support them
I devote a part of my salary for this — I think it is a money well spent and I am more than happy to divert money that I used to normally spent on eating out, or at cineplexes.
Yes, that’s all it takes to make a difference in someone else’s life. So, do check them out. And, the next time you sit down for dinner, do include those farmers who have toiled in harsh conditions in your prayers.
Aruna Vayuvegula is a social investor with Rang De. You can become a social investor with Rang De and support Dharani by investing Rs 100 or more here.
If you would like to accompany us on future field trips, drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org