When one moves away from one’s homeland, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is one phrase that stops holding true. Same goes for Suresh Ediga, an NRI software engineer in the USA. Despite being away from India for a long period of time, Suresh has been actively involved in solving problems in rural India.
Based in New Jersey, Suresh has taken up various social causes and mobilised support towards them.
He has been helping farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu for the past few years, and has now vowed to raise Rs 1 crore for the farmers’ welfare.
“The farming crisis continues to get worse. Yet, the farmers have been doing everything they possibly can, which is why we still continue to have food on our plate. But what are we doing to help our farmers? How can we get involved? What is our responsibility towards them? Can we do something that’s practical and sustainable? That was the thought behind starting the fund,” Suresh says.
The ‘One Crore Farmer Fund’ aims at assisting farmers to tackle different agrarian crises, the foremost being farmer suicide and debt. The activist has prepared a detailed plan to distribute the donations in the fund for short-term as well as long-term solutions.
The money raised is to be deposited with Center For Sustainable Agriculture, an NGO based in Telangana that works towards establishing models of sustainable agriculture by collaborating with NGOs and community-based organizations. The funds will be utilised for farmers in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.
The money will help in providing relief to the families of farmers who committed suicide, better implementation of technology in agriculture, establishing helplines and setting up farmer training centres. While earmarking 30% to 40% of the funds for the help of farmers in distress, the rest of the fund money will be invested in encouraging farmers to take up organic and natural farming techniques through farmer field schools, farmer producer organizations and a farmer helpline.
A software engineer by profession, Suresh moved to the US to pursue his Masters in 2000 and has since been volunteering to support people back home.
Last year, through his initiative Indian Farmer League, he raised funds for farmers in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region.
Image for representation only. Source: By Ananth BS, via Wikimedia Commons
He, along with four friends, has also founded an organization called i4Farmers.org i.e. Individual for Farmers, which brings individuals together to help the farmers.
“In the past seven years, I’ve done 6 or more fundraising campaigns with amounts ranging from 2 lakhs to 21 lakhs. What I’ve learnt is that people are generally empathetic to farmers causes and the onus is really on us to reach out to them and create awareness about the severity of the crisis. Once the outreach happens, raising funds becomes a little less challenging,” Suresh says.
Suresh is crowdfunding for One Crore Farmer Fund on Milaap. To contribute for the cause, click here.