Since 2007, in India’s Maharashtra state, World Vision has been working with communities of the Yavatmal district to reverse a trend of farmer suicide due to crop failure, extreme debt, and economic desperation. Today agricultural training, improved technologies, and targeted cash-for-work activities are boosting farm production and bringing hope to 9,000 people in 35 villages—with zero reported suicides in the target area since the project’s inception.
A huge transformation has taken place in these communities, as farmers have diversified crops, reduced indebtedness, increased savings, and improved women’s participation in household decision-making, economic activity, and community meetings:
- Income has increased by at least one-third among all participating households and by more than half among farmers who received agricultural training.
- Less than 1 percent of the population migrates elsewhere for work, compared with more than 10 percent three years ago.
- Access to a stable supply of food doubled from 6 months to 12 months for more than half of the most vulnerable households.
- In response to water conservation measures, the groundwater level rose by more than 3 feet; streams that once went dry by November now flow through February.
- The average time spent gathering drinking water decreased to 10 minutes from 30 minutes.
- Millet production doubled, soybean production increased by one-half, and cotton production rose by one-third among participating farmers.
In the next phase, World Vision seeks to develop this area as a Center of Excellence, where farmers from across India can come to learn from successes in this region: 1) Enhanced coping abilities through diversified crop cultivation and off-farm income generation activities; 2) Increased nutrition and food security through the promotion of kitchen gardens and backyard poultry; and 3) Promotion of life-affirming values and behaviors through interfaith cooperation and dialogue.
New hope has emerged as communities join together, families strengthen their economic resiliency, children excel in school, and relationships are healed.