Bailmare family hails from Vidarbha, notorious for cases of farmer suicide. This family due to their strong family ties, commitment to ecological agriculture, have not only come out of the indebtedness but made agriculture a profitable venture and the family has progressed in all aspects. They have set an example for all the farmers in the region.
Bailmare family live in a village “Bailmarkheda” in Amravati district of Maharashtra where average rainfall is just 800-900 mm per year that too just for 40-45 days (average). A family of 5 members i.e. Sudhakar and Usha Bailmare along with their three children, Arvind, Reshma and Shraddha. Arvind is a graduate in arts and has a special affinity towards their family farms. Reshma is married and comes to help her parents during the sowing and harvesting season. Shraddha is studying in 12th standard and wants to do her graduation in agriculture.
Till the year 2004-05, the family was practicing conventional farming on 2 acres of land and this was not profitable for them. They were compelled to spend a lot of money buying chemical fertilizers, chemical pesticides and hybrid seeds from the market. The costs of all these inputs increased sharply but the market prices of the different crops increased only marginally. At times, when the crop failed due to adverse climatic conditions, sowing a second time would double costs.
Additionally, to cultivate, they had to take a crop loan from the local bank. Since the amount of crop loan is linked to the size of the land, they could get a small loan of about Rs. 7000 – Rs.8000. After the purchase of an additional 4 acres, they started getting crop loan of about Rs. 30000. Even though it was an interest free loan, at times it was difficult to pay installments. On few occasions, to repay the bank installments, they were compelled to borrow money from the traditional moneylender at high interest rates.
Later Arvind came in contact with a partner organization of Aid For Change working on ecological agriculture in the region. He participated in awareness and training programmes, exposure visits on ecological agriculture to demonstration plots conducted by our partner organization. Realizing the importance of ecological farming techniques, he learnt all the techniques and slowly started practicing them on 2 acres first and then gradually over entire 6 acres. In addition to use of biological fertilizers and pesticides, he adopted practices like inter cropping. Earlier they would take only soya bean, later they started sowing pulses with soya bean, which fetched good income. Arvind and his family started making and using bio pesticides and fertilizers at home. Instead of using hybrid seeds from the market, they started using seeds from their own crops.
Over the period of 6 to 7 years, it resulted in reduction in inputs and other costs related to agriculture and agriculture production and income increased. Agriculture started becoming profitable for the family. After 2008, the family has not taken any loan from the bank for agriculture.