Dressed in a simple white kurta and dhoti, and his face covered with a mask, Kanti Amliyar embarks on a routine tour of his village to identify those who are in need of vegetables during the coronavirus lockdown.
While several vegetable farmers have not been able to sell their produce amid the lockdown, Amliyar has turned the crisis into an opportunity to serve the needy.
The 55-year-old farmer from Dahod has been distributing vegetable packets for free at his village, Usarvan,
Over 40 per cent of the villagers at Usarvan, which has a population of around 5,000 people, are migrant and contractual labourers who have returned to their native village and are facing a resource crunch.
“It was anyway difficult to sell the produce this season. So I decided to help the fellow villagers who are unable to fend for themselves. My family has also been very supportive. If needed we will distribute our second round of produce among the villagers as well,” says Amliyar.
So far he has distributed 400 kg of vegetables including tomatoes, onions, egg plants and green gram, which he grew in his half-acre land .
“We are expecting cultivation of lady fingers the following week and if needed, will distribute that as well,” he adds.
While the villagers have availed benefits of free ration including rice and dal, they claim that vegetable vendors have hardly arrived in their village since the lockdown.
Badhiya Bhabhor, 53, a contractual labourer says that Amliyar’s gesture has come a great relief for his eight-member family.
“There is no income for the family ever since the lockdown was announced. We have a small farm, but we have no produce. The only support was the free ration and also the Rs 2,000 we received through our Jan Dhan accounts. When he (Amliyar) brought the vegetables to us, it was a huge relief. We can sustain on such a strict diet with rice and dal. But we also have children to feed,” Bhabhor says.
Another factor in favour of Amliyar has also been the abundant rains in last year.
“We were able to store a lot of water the previous year due to abundant rains. Otherwise water is a major issue in the village,” Amliyar says.
Despite having no income in the last one month, Amliyar and his family including his wife and three children, have been living on their savings.
“We are consuming our own farm produce as well. We realized that there are families and individuals who are going through even worse and we decided that there was no harm in helping them. If we are not able to provide for farm labourers we get together to pluck the produce and package it,” said Amliyar’s eldest son Nitesh, an undergraduate student.
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