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Caritas India draws up plan to prevent farmers' suicides

 Caritas India, the social arm of the Catholic Church of India, has drawn up a large-scale intervention to help deal with farmers' suicides across the country. Suicide is a growing problem among India's rural community, with more and more farmers driven to killing themselves each year because of desperate poverty and spiraling debt. At the fifth National Assembly of Caritas in Mumbai, from February 6-8, several senior Archbishops, Caritas leadership, representatives from partner agencies and external experts drew up a plan to begin to deal with the problem. The three-day meeting in Goregaon also discussed and finalized 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," Fr Mattamana said. Source: Caritas India