My dream: “To see my children do well in school”
When the local school closed amid the COVID-19 lockdown in India, Dhirendra Mishra’s 12-year-old son Deepak Mishra asked his father to buy a smartphone so that he and his younger brother could continue their studies online.
This was no small request.
Dhirendra is a hardworking farmer who produces peppermint, rice, wheat and potato on his 11-acre property near the city of Raebareli in the state of Uttar Pradesh, supporting his wife and three children and aging parents. Farming life is tough, and there is not always enough money for unexpected expenses. This year, the pandemic made the situation even more challenging.
“We were looking forward to a good harvest,” Dhirendra says. “Thanks to our local famer producer organisation (FPO), we had access to good quality seeds and manure this year, which helped us increase our yield. However, the harvest was upon us and there were no workers to help because of the nationwide pandemic lockdown.”
A late harvest would mean a lower yield and less income for the family, but Dhirendra was just one of millions of farmers trying to bring in their crops amidst the pandemic.
Fortunately, Dhirendra’s local FPO was again there to help. Raebareli Farmer Producer Company Limited (RFPCL) works with TechnoServe, which is implementing a Walmart Foundation-supported Sustainable Livelihoods for Smallholder Farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh Program that aims to support FPOs and farmers to raise rural incomes through training, improved procurement systems, and access to inputs like seeds and fertiliser. As the pandemic lockdown hit rural communities hard, RFPCL mobilised its resources to give Dhirendra and his neighbours access to farm machinery, including a harvester and thresher, just when they needed it. The timely harvest was then aggregated by RFPCL and supplied directly to buyers.
As a result, Dhirendra was able to earn a better income than expected during the pandemic. And this allowed him to keep alive his dream of a good education for his children and buy a smartphone for them to use.
“We had a basic phone before, but this was our family’s first smartphone,” he says. “Thanks to Walmart Foundation and TechnoServe, which helped us increase our yield and earn a good income from our crops even in a bad situation, we could make sure that our children’s education was not halted by this pandemic.”