In One Of India’s Most Suicide-prone Areas, Whatsapp Is Bringing Hope & Support

For ages, they’ve been fighting a tough battle against a brutal ‘system’. But now, tech-savvy farmers of Maharashtra are sharing best practices, exploring new markets and building infrastructure, all through their phones. What’s more, they are also planning to take their community’s voice to the government.

Amhi vasare vasare, muki upasi vasare,   (We are speechless, hungry calves)
Gaya panhavato amhi, chor kalatat dhar.   (We tend to the cows, while others steal the milk.)
Tapa tapa gham unarato, unarato bhuivar,   (We sweat on the fields all day,)
Moti pikavato amhi, tari upasi lekare.’   (And cultivate pearls, while our children have nothing to eat.)

– Krishna Kalamb, a farmer poet, poured out the anguish of his everyday struggle into these verses. Then one day, when the pain became unbearable, he ended his life.

When untimely rains lashed the country in March, a suburban Mumbaikar tweeted, “Wow! Surprise rain in Mumbai… I am loving it!!”

Elsewhere, in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, two farmers—a cotton grower and an onion cultivator—hanged themselves. All that had lain ahead of them was to watch their kids starve or take loans they could never pay back.

In India, 60-70% of the people depend directly or indirectly on agriculture. Yet, farmers constitute 11.2% of all suicides in the country. Long left at the mercy of an insensitive system, farmers in Maharashtra are now taking charge of their own destiny.

On a WhatsApp group, ‘Baliraja’, over a hundred farmers from various villages are seeking and sharing agriculture advice, connecting with experts in various fields and learning new practices.



Baliraja is the brain child of Anil Bandawane, once an engineering student, who has now taken up farming full time. Dissatisfied with the rather impractical ‘Kisaan call centres’, Anil found out a Facebook group named ‘Baliraja’, and brought them together on WhatsApp.

“Most of the farmers in our villages have mobile phones. They use the latest technology in their farming too. But still there are a lot of problems. In our WhatsApp group, we have a few experts too who give us timely solutions,” says Anil.

He, along with Krishnat Patil, owner of a fertiliser firm, advise the group on use of fertilisers and pesticides, and various other farming technologies. Apart from Krishnat, Anil also shared the admin rights with Sujay Kumthekar, Shubham Indhe, Ramdas Shingote, Vaibhav and Vilas Thatod, all with different areas of expertise.

Vilas, for example, is Baliraja’s resident weatherman, while chef Sujay—who hasn’t abandoned the family tradition of farming—recently educated the group about exotic vegetables like broccoli.

On Baliraja, group members can enquire about the market, utility and price of zucchini.
On Baliraja, group members can enquire about the market, utility and price of zucchini.
…or disucss innovations like the milk collecting robot.
…or disucss innovations like the milk collecting robot.

Yunus Khan, works with Akola-based ‘Agri Clinic and Agri Buisness Centre’, which provides agricultural business training. He shares his experience of various visits to agro and dairy exhibitions with the farmers.

Amol Sainwar, founder of NGO HOPE, is a Man Friday, always ready to help with whatever the farmers need most. For instance, the cultivators recently talked about the losses they faced due to unavailability of a warehouse. And now Amol, with the help of his NGO and the farmers, is ready to build one that can serve at least three villages. (You can read more about HOPE here.)

 Amol Sainwar and his NGO are ready to build a warehouse for farmers.
Amol Sainwar and his NGO are ready to build a warehouse for farmers.

WhatsApp group for Stevia Cultivation

This is invitation link of WhatsApp group for setvia cultivation. Join this group and share your experience of stevia cultivation with others or learn about stevia cultivation.

*Group Rules*

Please read following rules and I request all members please respect all rules:
*Relevant Posts Only:* Everyone must write posts only those are relevant to the group subject.
*Respect to peers, experts and admins:* Everyone must talk respectfully to other members, experts and administrators.
*Value for Time:* Please also understand and value each others time. If any one feels this group is not suitable for them, they are free to leave the group. Helps admins accommodate better focused people.
*Irrelevant Content:*
*Do not* post anything outside the topic.
*Do not* spam or post any irrelevant messages in the group.
*No* jokes, No forward messages, no greeting messages, no blank emoticons, inspirational / devotional messages, no social event wishes, no invites, no personal comments or any type of irrelevant posts. (Discretion of the admin which post is irrelevant).
Please avoid chit chat and casual / small talk. 
*All* of us are members of other groups where we get them.
Unrelated content will not be tolerated at all.
*Do not Change Group Name & Icon:* Members are prohibited from changing group name and group icon. Only admins will do it as and when necessary.
*Excessive self-promotion:* You can use the platform to showcase some nice work you have done. However, it should be related information and excessive self-promotion will not be entertained.

*No group invite links:* Members are prohibited from sharing external group invite links in the group. Only admins will do it as and when necessary. If you wish to share group link, request admin for sharing first.

*Removal from the Group*
Any deviation from the group guidelines will be taken seriously and offenders will be removed from the group permanently without notice. 

Members who are removed from the group will not be added back to the group. So please be careful about what you are sharing with the group. This is done to protect the interest and privacy of group members.
We do not take any responsibility and we are not liable for any damage caused through use of products, plants, seeds or services purchased through this group, be it indirect, special, incidental or consequential damages (including but not limited to damages for loss of business, loss of profits, interruption or the like). Before purchasing any item like plants, seeds or product or transfer amount confirm originality of person or company by yourself, in case of any loss *we will not responsible*. The basic aim of this group is sharing basic information about STEVIA and share, solve or help technical issues during cultivation.
If you are agree to follow above group rules click down to Join