Atop a rocky hillside lives Sundra Paharia, his wife and their six children. For years Sundra struggled to grow enough food to feed his large family.
Sundra and his family are a part of the Malto people, an ethnic minority group that faces extreme levels of poverty in remote regions of India. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged their community and restrictions have cut off trading with other parts of the country.
Sundra and his wife were struggling to grow enough food to feed the family. He couldn’t afford to send his children to school and was concerned that his next harvest would fail, leaving him penniless and his children starving.
Growing hope amidst hardship
When Tearfund’s local partner, EFICOR, started offering farming workshops at the local church, Sundra immediately signed up. He was intrigued to hear that using new growing methods (like building vine trellises) he could double, and maybe even triple his harvests.
Sundra was skeptical at first. How could this be possible in a place like Churidari, where the soil is often rocky and the landscape is full of steep hills?
As a leader and a respected farmer in the community, many others followed Sundra and signed up for the training despite their hesitations. In the training the farmers learned new techniques like how to build a vine trellis for growing gourds, how to conserve water in a dry climate, and how to effectively use livestock manure as a natural fertilizer.
Sundra was quick to get to work on his crops after attending the workshops at the local church. He saw firsthand evidence that these growing methods could improve food production and was excited to bring the methods back to his own land. Sundra and his family planted eggplant, beans, tomatoes and gourds.
They waited anxiously to see what would happen.
A ‘horse-sized’ harvest
The results at the end of his harvest were incredible! Sundra harvested 600kg (1322 lbs.) of gourds along with large harvests of tomato, eggplant and beans.
In all his life, Sundra hadn’t seen this much food before. His harvest of gourds alone weighed about the same as a fully-grown horse!
Despite the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sundra and his family have had more than enough to eat this year. They’ve even had extra to sell at the local market. He now wants to teach the rest of the village about the new farming methods he’s learned and how it could change their lives.
Sundra smiles proudly as he tells us about his incredible harvest. He is particularly proud of his gourds, all 600kg of them! He now has enough money to send his children back to school and no longer worries that they will starve. Despite the ongoing pandemic restrictions, he is confident in his farming and is excited to see what he will grow next season.
It’s because of our supporters and the work of the local church, that despite the odds against them, Malto people like Sundra and his family are lifting themselves out of extreme poverty for good.