Published: 13th October 2018
Aarnav Aggarwal's UjjBhav is helping 452 farmers of Vidarbha and making their lives a little easier
We talk to him about how sometimes, only a farmer can help another farmer out
At the very beginning of our conversation, 17-year-old Aarnav Aggarwal makes it clear that he has an ambitious streak. And by the end of our conversation, we feel thankful for it because if it weren't for his ambition, 452 farmers would have been depressed due to crop failure. It was, after all, for the farmers that Aggarwal started UjjBhav. And to get to the root of the problem, he visited Vidarbha, a place we have come to associate with farmer suicides. "Through a survey, we found out that there are too many problems and there is no single solution," says Aggarwal who is a class XII student of Bal Bharati Public School, Pitampura, New Delhi. One thing that Aggarwal understood was that technology was not the immediate answer as farmers often take time to adapt to new technology like smartphones. But he figured that retired or senior farmers and agriculture professionals could help the distressed farmers if they are connected. So, in 2015, the idea of UjjBhav was born.
Aggarwal started UjjBhav with Krishi Vikas Audyogik Saha Sanstha. They have a network of 48 senior farmers and agriculture professionals in place
Under UjjBhav, there are two programmes. Their peer-to-peer programme is where senior farmers reach out to distressed farmers and help them through any situation, right from government policies that can be availed to market research. Their mentorship programme places agriculture professionals right in the distressed farmer's village and they handhold farmers through all that needs to be done. UjjBhav does have an app in place, which we are told is in the beta testing phase, and farmers are being eased into using it. "The digital divide and the literacy gap are making marginal and small farmers vulnerable as they are unable to utilise the resources around them," says Aggarwal, who is trying to bridge this divide with UjjBhav's programmes and the app. As of today, UjjBhav is helping 452 farmers.
Aggarwal is in touch with the core team in Vidarbha on a daily basis and discusses weekly and monthly reports over Skype
Plant A Tree is another initiative of UjjBhav through which they have planted 6,150 trees on barren land, where farmers invest or raise their own money and plant the saplings themselves. By the end of the year, they hope to touch 10,000. And we sure hope they do.
Two problems that plague Vidarbha:
- Some parts grow cotton, which is a slow and tedious process. So, the team is encouraging them to grow different kinds of crop as well
- They are discouraging the use of pesticides which was being used extensively in the area