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Food & Hunger

Farmers in India turn to selling blood for cash

Flickr: Austin Yoder

Farmers in India are so burdened by the current drought that they are now selling their blood for cash.

This was the case for Karna, one man living in Uttar Pradesh--a state in northern India that is home to 200 million people and where 30 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Karna’s son became ill and because of the severe drought affecting crops in his village, he was left with few options to help his son. So he turned to the only thing left to sell, his own blood.

Selling blood is illegal in most countries, including India. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for it.

Karna sold two bottles of his own blood for 1,200 rupees or $17 USD.

He says that many farmers from his village are turning to alternative means for income to make ends meet. Karna even travelled to the nearest town, Jhansi (an hour and half journey), to work as a laborer at the age of 60 to support his family.

Usually you feel proud after donating blood because it helps save a life. But when it's a last resort scheme for money, it's a grim event. 

farmers-in-india-turn-to-selling-blood-for-cash-b1Image: Flickr: World Bank

Donating blood should be a personal choice not a desperate way to make money. This type of exchange can lead to a slippery slope where the rights of the world’s most vulnerable people are turned into commodities.  

Farmers are some of world’s most important workers. But they also happen to be the poorest. And right now they need our help.

Karna’s situation reflects the dire need for two things: access to healthcare for all and financial security and assistance. In today’s digital world, the importance of internet access for farmers cannot be stressed enough. As climate change makes droughts and extreme weather more common and markets remain volatile, farmers need access to tools that will help them conserve water more efficiently, protects crops and increase harvest yield.

If such technology was made readily available to farmers, turning to life-threatening procedures for income would become less common.

And if Karna was better equipped to handle harsh weather, then he wouldn't be losing blood to feed his family. 

You may have heard the Chinese proverb, “women hold up half the sky.” Well, farmers are the reason men and women have the strength to hold up the sky. Especially smallholder farmers who grow produce on small parcels of land and feed 80 percent of the developing world. Let's empower farmers who feed the world. 

farmers-in-india-turn-to-selling-blood-for-cash-b1Image: Flickr: Neil Palmer (CIAT)

Check out this report from World Vision to learn more about the need for emergency food aid to sustain livelihoods for smallholder farms, and improve food aid assistance. Food aid is not just about donating food, it’s about creating sustainable systems for farmers and the 795 million hungry people in the world.