Indian cities have had an influx of farmer migrations over the past few decades. This is primarily because of failure in agricultural yield and simultaneously an attraction towards higher urban wages. The financial distress faced by farmers has led to approximately 300 thousand suicides between the year 1995 and 2015. Approximately 76% of farmers would prefer to give up farming and move to the city for better prospects. While the city seems like the ultimate opportunity, being in a city has a fair share of challenges. Job opportunities for skilled farmers are scarce and therefore many end up working and construction labour, cooks and cleaners. Their skills of growing plants and knowledge of the many species of plants are misspent in a city. Migration followed by poverty in urban areas has led to a bitter existence for many farmers in India. Most migrant population have to scramble for jobs every single day. They may succeed in getting employment on a particular day, if they don’t, it means that they have lost a day’s wages. When they do get employment on a particular day, it can be in construction sites, welding shops, bathroom cleaning etc. Their desperation forces them to take on any jobs that can pay.
The UrbanMali Network is a gardening enterprise that sets up and maintains garden across Bangalore city. The gardeners empowered within this initiative are all rural farmers who are given a better livelihood and opportunity to put their skills to use within city gardens. We provide employment for these gardeners on a regular basis. They don’t have to look for other jobs and will have gainful employment always. Additionally, we also pay them higher rates than any other jobs, providing them a dignified employment option which makes them confident of being able to pay back their debts and living a better life within the city.
UrbanMali not only provides these farmers with employment opportunities, we will also create a fraternity of gardeners who have the benefit of availing small loans by way of micro finance options. These small loans can be used to pay back agricultural debts, provide education for their children and healthcare for their family members. The fraternity of gardeners would be like a family unit that supports each other in different ways.