MUMBAI -- Caritas India, the social arm of the Catholic Church of India and one of country’s largest NGOs, is making a large-scale intervention against farmers’ suicides across the country.
At the fifth National Assembly of Caritas in Mumbai February 6-8, several senior Archbishops, Caritas leadership, representatives from partner agencies and external experts would firm up the plan based on Caritas experience in northern Kerala. The three-day meet in Goregaon would also discuss and finalize other action plans of Caritas for the next two years. With over 350 partner NGOs and 250,000 Self Help Groups, and consistent and large-scale disaster relief operations Caritas is one of India’s largest non-governmental operations. Caritas has over the years developed and implemented an effective Community Based Disaster Preparedness programme, and sustainable agriculture practice and natural resource management. “In hundreds of Indian villages we have successfully intervened and improved the lives of the poor, and marginalized farmers have been among our key priorities always,” executive director Father Varghese Mattamana said. “Our priority for the marginalized farmers, and their plight, would be the key theme over the next three days. We have recently implemented an integrated programme in Wynad district of Kerala, and were able to contain farmers’ suicide in areas of intervention. Caritas plans to further improve on the strategy and spread it to more areas including Vidarbha region,” Father Mattamana said. He added that, “an integrated approach to the development of the particular region including a sustainable natural resource management, effective micro-credit groups and empowerment of farmers are the key factors to fighting the high suicide rates among the marginalized farmers.” The National Assembly in Goregaon would also take up various other strategies for firming up and furthering, during the National Assembly here. The theme of this year’s national Assembly is “To revisit community empowerment methodologies and intervention strategies” (Rights Based Approach to Development).