Ever since the lockdown has been announced in March and extensions that followed due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, a lot of businesses have been hit badly. Even though the essential services have been permitted during the lockdown, the farmers have taken massive losses due to unsold stock or unharvested produce. One such farmer's plight was the talking point on Twitter as his cry for help on the social media platform did not go unnoticed.
Kannaiyan Subramaniam, a farmer in Karnataka's Chamarajanagara district, posted a short video on Twitter as he sought help to find buyers for his 100 tonnes of cabbage ready to be harvested. The farmer pitched the idea of using his produce to feed the poor and needy in times of this crisis and even decided to let go of his profit. Subramaniam used to sell cabbages at Rs 11.50 previously, but he was happy to sell it at Rs 3 per kg.
Farmer's plight echoed far and wide
Subramaniam got an overwhelming response for his tweet and people were keen on buying from him. His cry for help was noticed by an agri-tech entrepreneur and activist Balaji Pattabiraman, who made sure Subramaniam got the help he needed. Balaji approached an NGO "Armour for Care" to help out Subramaniam, and the NGO bought 3 tonnes worth cabbage.
Today harvested 3000 kg of Cabbages and sending to Chennai by @SRailwayIndia from Erode. Mr.Balaji sir @Balatweets has been in touch with me since I tweeted about my unharvested Cabbage due to lock down&gave an order for 3 tons yesterday,a timely support.?— Kannaiyan Subramaniam (@SuKannaiyan) May 5, 2020
Balaji spoke to International Business Times, India about how the whole thing played out and we explored his role in the process of getting Subramaniam the help he needed. Being an agri-tech entrepreneur, it gave Balaji a better understanding of the farmer's plight and have set out on a journey to other farmers with similar problems.
"The tweet has gone a bit viral and there are some good samartians who have offered to help the farmers. Some have posted other farmers in distress and have asked us to check if we can assist.
We are also trying to take these in addition to our regular activities which in times of COVID is hard in itself," Balaij told IBTimes India.
Helping farmers during lockdown
But to address this issue on a larger scale, Balaji has some ideas, which come from his experience being an agri-tech entrepreneur.
"We knew this is coming. The first pass effect of lockdown is going to be on the farmers and the most vulnerable farmers are the vegetable farmers. As we believe, there is a need for farmers to collectivize into community organizations like Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) or other commercial co-operatives that will solve some of their key market challenges, if not all. Our platform YUKT is aimed at getting more done through such community collectives - by providing them smart linkages while reducing their operations overhead through digitization," he said.
Balaji is trying to help other farmers stuck in a similar situation by putting them in touch with various NGOs. Even in these testing times, it is important to keep an eye out to see who needs our help and people like Balaji are setting an example. No deed is big or small. Participation, in any capacity, is the key.