The women of a village in Hinglajwadi in Osmanabad, Maharashtra have taken the onus of bringing down the rate of farmerssuicide on themselves. Also, since the time the women have taken charge of the village, no suicide has been reported.

They have developed a sustainable model to tackle the perennial agricultural crisis in the region. Their success in making their families self-sufficient financially can be gauged by the fact that the village moneylender has run out of business. In fact, he now looks for financial assistance from the women farmer-entrepreneurs, who now control the finances of their own families and of the village.

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The journey to self-sustenance

The initiative started a few years ago when farmer suicides were a growing problem in the village. This perturbed them and they coalesced to save their families and children.

Rekha Shinde, a farmer says that the first step was to make sure that in case a farmer committed suicide, his family and children do not starve.

“We asked our men to give us a small piece of land. But they said women must work at home and not in the fields,” she recalls.

However, the men relented after repeated insistence. The women then started growing vegetables together. With limited water, resources and help, they grew enough for their families and also managed to reap profits by selling the surplus vegetables.

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This experiment imbued them with a lot of confidence.

Next, the women went to Osmanabad to seek information about government schemes. Today, the village has over 200 self-help groups with 265 women as its members. “The turnover of all the women’s groups put together in our village is over Rs 1 crore,” says Komaltai, another farmer.

The women have also managed to start poultry farms, goat rearing, dairy business, cloth shops, sewing business and beauty parlours.

The village follows a thumb rule. Every purchase must be made in the village and the money must not go out.

 More power to them!

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