The state of Maharashtra paints a paradoxical picture-on the one hand its capital, Mumbai is known as the commercial capital of India, boasting of the highest number of millionaires and billionaires in the country. On the other hand, it is also home to Vidarbha-a region that reports the highest numbers of farmer suicide rates in the state.

According to a report in the Times of India, Vidarbha reported 917 farmer suicides till the end of August in 2016. Tough economic conditions arising due to unseasonal rains, yielding poor output of traditional cash crops, such as rice and cotton, and low agricultural prices have nothelped. A 2015 study revealed that farmers in Vidarbha were committing suicide for debts as little as Rs. 10,000.

The Government of Maharashtra has set a target of doubling farm income by 2022 through a string of measures, according to Live Mint.

During the ‘Make in India Conclave’ last year, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Private Limited-the largest bottling partner of The Coca-Cola Company in India and Jain Irrigation for Project ‘Orange Unnati’ -an initiative aimed at helping farmers in the state enhance their livelihood by switching to orange farming.

Project ‘Orange Unnati' Aims to Improve Livelihood of Farmers
The initiative will help farmers yield better produce through training on modern irrigation techniques and applications, such as Ultra High Density Plantation (UHDP). A juice manufacturing facility and high-tech nursery will also be set up in the region. The programme benefits all parties concerned-farmers will benefit from switching to a cash crop with higher yield through sustainable agriculture practices, Jain Irrigation will in get high quality produce from the farmers and Coca-Cola will be able to procure the ingredient locally in India for its Minute Maid and Maaza product lines. Over 95% of Coca-Cola products are made from ingredients sourced in India. The success of this project will make a difference to the lives of over 4 lakh farmers in India.

With better agricultural practices and end-to-end ecosystem of cultivation, pulping, processing and packaging, ‘Orange Unnati’ is a small step offering hope to these farmers for a better tomorrow.