The Bolangir area is one of the most backward areas in the state of Odisha according to government records. Bansal Oorganic Grower Group is to be formed and registered in society Act with the interest of organic cotton farmers.“This life is worse than death. But there is a debt to repay, and agriculture alone is not enough so I need to search for another work”says a farmer. This is not an isolated case in Bolangir district. Migration is a huge issue in Bolangir district. Bolangir has been continuously in the news for starvation, death, malnutrition, migration and, more recently, swathes of farmer suicides. There is a clear need for interventions to support and guide communities as they battle agricultural distress and food insecurity.
The region is known for its dismal state as far as ‘Human Development Indicators’ are concerned. Agriculture is the mainstay of the local economy with cotton being a major cash crop. Due to lack of infrastructure for irrigation, the entire agricultural activities are dependent upon the monsoons that generally occur in these parts between mid-June and mid-September. The average land holding of a small farmer is between 3 to 4 acres of which about 2 to 2.5 acres are dedicated for cotton. Further, due to lack of any other economic opportunity and total dependence on agriculture, they are faced with cash crunch almost throughout the year. This makes them vulnerable to unscrupulous traders and loan sharks who advance loans in time of need in exchange of commitment to sell the cotton produce at pre-determined prices – which are, at many times, to the disadvantage of the poor farmers.