'From Migrant Labourer To Successful Farmer – Maheshbhai Asari’s Journey Has Been Long And Arduous. After A Decade-Long Struggle As A Daily-Wage Worker, He Turned His Fortunes Around In Just Two Years, Once He Had The Support Of Reliance Foundation. With His Business Finally Flourishing, He Now Lives Life With His Head Held High.'
Maheshbhai Asari, Dholeshwar village, Gujarat
- For years, Maheshbhai Asari had lived with his wife Leelaben, and 11-year-old son Kiran Asari, in a kuchcha house in Dholeshwar village, Gujarat. Relying on rain-fed agriculture on his half-acre plot of land, he was struggling to make ends meet.
- In a year, Maheshbhai barely managed to produce 7.3 quintals of maize and cotton, which fetched him just Rs 19,250. To augment his income, he had to resort to daily-wage work as a migrant labourer.
- The family income falling far short of sufficient, Maheshbhai’s son’s education often took a backseat. Many a time, the boy had to skip school and join Maheshbhai as a wage labourer. In the event of medical or other emergencies, the family was at the complete mercy of money lenders. Year after year, his family led its life under a shadow of uncertainty, not knowing where their next meal would come from, or where they would have to migrate, in search of it.
- Today, however, they are no longer prisoners of circumstance. Together with Reliance Foundation (RF), Maheshbhai has taken charge of his destiny, and brought his farm alive. He has enough food to feed his family, enough money to send his son to school, and lives life with dignity – a miracle of sorts, achieved in the brief span of two years.
- In March 2013, Maheshbhai met a team from RF. He was one of the first farmers from the area to join the RF-backed village association (VA). Whenever his migrant life kept him away from VA meetings, Leelaben made it a point to attend them.
- Learning about the family’s bleak financial condition, the VA helped Maheshbhai acquire a dairy unit buffalo worth Rs 36,500. The costs incurred in insuring the cattle and transporting it to his home were shared by the VA and Maheshbhai.
- Agriculture experts from RF helped Maheshbhai bring about some key changes to his farming practices. Soon, he was growing 7 quintal maize and 10 quintal Tuar Dal annually on his plot. The yields fetched him Rs 18,500. He also cultivated vegetables which brought home an additional Rs 16,000. His income from agricultural produce shot up to Rs 34,500. He also earned Rs. 68,500 by selling milk from his cattle.
- A steady income from the dairy unit, combined with RF interventions for food and nutrition security, gave the family stability. Maheshbhai got the confidence to stop migrating in search of work and focus on his own initiatives instead. Today, he and his wife are rearing cattle, with the sale of 3.5 litres of milk bringing home a minimum of Rs 140 every day.
- “I no longer have to work as a wage labourer. Thanks to Reliance Foundation, I am earning enough from vegetable cultivation and the dairy unit. Now, I even have time to visit relatives and attend social gatherings,” says Maheshbhai.
- What brings the widest smile to Maheshbhai’s face is the knowledge that his son no longer has to join him in search of wage labour. He can go to school every day.