Andhra farmers rise above personal financial constraints, help needy migrants
The poor farmers from this perennially-drought-stricken district, are pulling out all stops to help the stranded migrant workers, who are staying in relief camps and shelter homes.Updated: May 01, 2020 12:11 IST
Several small and marginal farmers of Andhra Pradesh’s (AP) Anantpur district have risen above their personal financial constraints and joined hands to help the poor and needy stranded migrant workers. Anantpur, which is one of the worst-affected districts in AP and has 10 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) red zones, has reported 61 positive cases and four deaths to date.
The poor farmers from this perennially-drought-stricken district, however, are pulling out all stops to help the stranded migrant workers, who are staying in relief camps and shelter homes. The farmers, largely from the district’s Kalyanadurgam area that is located adjacent to neighbouring Karnataka, are pooling in their meagre resources and supplying groceries, vegetables and fruits for the migrants.
K Chandra (40), is a small farmer, who owns a 2.5-acre of an arable tract in Kanukuru village that’s barely enough for subsistence living. However, he’s moved by the pitiable plight of the stranded workers and has decided to contribute in a bid to alleviate their misery.
“I grow groundnut and onion on my tiny tract of land and sell them to open market. I’ve decided to donate my meagre produce to feed the poor and the needy in the relief camps amid the ongoing lockdown restrictions,” Chandra said.
Chandra and enthusiastic village youth are going about their task quietly since the nationwide lockdown restrictions initially came into force from March 25 for 21 days and then further extended for another 19 days till May 3 to contain the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak. They have been sourcing assorted foodstuff from Kanukuru and neighbouring villages and then bringing them to an adjacent warehouse that belongs to the Rural Development Trust (RDT), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has been working on inculcating the best agricultural practices in the drought-hit Rayalaseema region.
The trust has taken up the responsibility of supplying food, groceries and vegetables to the relief camps and shelter homes since the lockdown was imposed. “So far, we’ve donated 4,300 quintals of rice, chillis, tamarind and leafy vegetables. I’m acutely aware of the pangs of hunger, and I don’t want others to suffer,” Chandra said.
N Krishna Reddy, a farmer from Venkatampalli village and owns a five-acre arable plot, is also donating his vegetable produce to the trust daily.
Anne Ferrer, executive director, RDT, finds the farmers’ response amid this grave humanitarian crisis “overwhelming”. “Anantapur is one of the worst-affected districts in AP. However, the viral outbreak scourge hasn’t deterred over 600 farmers from seven Red Zones in the district to generously contribute, as we’re feeding 7,000 poor people daily,” Ferrer said.
On Thursday, several small farmers from Bathalapalli donated 5,000 kilograms (kg) of rice, 312 litres of edible oil, 30 kg of brinjal, 20 kg of tomatoes, 10 kg onions and 30 kg of green chillies to the RDT canteen in Anantapur.
“A group of farmers from Gooty donated us firewood as well, which is coming handy for cooking,” Ferrer said.
Most of the migrants living in the relief camps and shelter homes belong to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, and they have been working in local cement factories and stone crushing units in Anantpur district.
“Local farmers are supporting around 75% of our food distribution programme. However, the daily demand is growing. On Wednesday, we prepared food for almost 10,000 people. We’re working closely with the government and local authorities to support those in greater need,” said Visha Ferrer, director, RDT women empowerment director and also a programme coordinator for the food distribution programme.