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Rural Farmer Debt Reduction
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Poor rural farmers in developing countries face a number of obstacles to improving and sustaining their well-being. Specifically, given that farmers must often borrow to fund their inputs and then remain in debt until harvest, a lack of infrastructure to plan for weather and price risk can often lead to farmer's incurring large debts.

Recently, the 'phenomenon' of farmer suicides (specifically in rural India) has been rising in the thousands on account of mounting debts. Some solutions such as better markets for managing risk, and insurance may well provide the necessary institutions needed to protect these farmers against such risks.

Alternatively, these institutions are necessitated by the inability of farming communities to act to help each other owing to poverty and destitution.

For more background, see:

P. Sainath's series on farmer suicides in Andra Pradesh.

The Idea

As an alternative way to substitute for community support, I propose beginning a person to person grant scheme, much in the mold of Kiva ( www.kiva.org )

Farmers with significant debts would be able to register with a field parter, who would consequently create a profile for them on the site, and record the amount of the debt in question.

However, rather than loan money, these would be grants (of a small size: $25/$50) intended by grantors in the developed world to cumulatively erase individual debts.


I have a potential partner in mind on the ground in India who would be interested in committing to such a project.

I would, however, need someone with web site design skills to get this project up and running. It would be great to get a design figured out, so as to pitch the idea to a field partner and grant foundations.

The conceivable date for implementing such a project might be around September 2008.