Dhoker Jhara is a village in Jharkhand, India of a people group called the Santal. They are very poor farmers and are considered a lower caste having little hope or help of their lives changing. Currently they are caught in a cycle of poverty; 47.8 percent of the population below the Indian poverty line of 324 rupees per month per capita ($7.50 US). This is one of the largest percentages of any Indian State.
The education system is not meeting the needs of the community with more than 40% of children under age 13 not attending school and only 16% of children finish secondary and only 4% go to college or above and literacy amongst Santali’s is estimated to be under 20%.
Each year the Santal people have to borrow money to purchase seed. By the time they harvest and get the crop to market they have little money left after paying back the loan. Most grow a single crop per year which is usually rice. This makes the farmers risk very high due to crop price changes, disease and weather. Also, many children have a hard time concentrating at school because they are not getting the nutrition their little bodies need to grow and think.
The India GHNI National Leader tells us, “In my village all the people are farmers. These farmers are totally depending upon the rainy season and so they have only one crop in whole year. That means the land is used only for 4 to 6 months depending on the kind of land and crop. This situation affects the lives in village in many ways. Rest of the year they go out to search for work. This hurts the education for their children because when the farmers go out to find work their families go with them and they pull their children out of school.”
GHNI plans to begin implementing TCD efforts through a demonstration acre called ‘The Miracle Acre’ where through careful conservation of soil and drip irrigation we will be able to show local families and farmers how to get a second crop each year.
If Dhoker Jhara is successful, it will be a model village for TCD in nearby villages to also escape impoverished conditions.