Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for communities in Vidarbha, which lies to the east of Maharashtra. In the year 2005, the region came into national and international focus due to a series of farmer suicides. The agrarian distress situation was caused by many factors — years of drought, low yields, poor market access, dependence on money-lenders and unfair trade practices, among others. An increased input cost aggravated the pressure on the farmers and left them burdened with debt. The worsening situation prompted the Trusts to launch the Sukhi Baliraja Initiative (SBI) in 2008.
SBI has been developing a holistic livelihood strategy for the region to reduce distress among the farming community and empower them to face production and market risks. Efforts have been made to promote livelihood options through thematic interventions, with focus on the most distressed districts in Vidarbha, especially Yavatmal, Amravati and Akola.
So far, the programme has reached out to over 25,000 households, focusing on multiple aspects – sustainable agriculture, soil and water conservation, community development and institutions, farmer producer organisations and collective agri-marketing, fisheries, poultry, dairy, and mental health. Having made an impactful presence on the field, SBI moved from a partner-based programme implementation to a direct implementation mode, commencing from mid-2015. The goal remains the same – to develop resilient production methods for the farmers and diversified on-farm / off-farm livelihood options for their sustainable income generation.
Every project under the SBI is regularly monitored for its impact and progress at various levels by in-house and external agencies. These interventions have now been expanded to newer locations in the region with a focus on other themes to impact beneficiaries holistically. This has made it possible for SBI to jointly scale up and intensify its efforts in Vidarbha.
Sukhi Baliraja Initiative
Collector Office Premises,
Amravati, Maharashtra 444602