I have never felt hungry, that is probably why I could never appreciate the value of food, I have never faced the dearth of bread and that is probably why I could never understand a farmers significance. 641,402,514 or approximately 64 Crore people are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood in India, who in winter’s chill or summer’s heat, work tirelessly so that we can eat. But we fail to understand the story behind their pain and sorrow. They are the only beings in our economy who buy everything at retail, sell everything at wholesale, and ultimately suffer both ways.
Farmers face problems in every phase of life, may it be trying to procure new technology, fighting famines and trying their best to irrigate their fields or acquiring loans at very high-interest rates and falling into a debt trap as they have low incomes but high costs of cultivation. According to statistics about 50 per cent of agricultural households are indebted.
Irrigation increases crop yield; protects from famine and ultimately helps in economic development. But with the current situation is that about 53% of the total area under cultivation remains un-irrigated. This can be observed below:
|Total Cropped Area||1,897,543|
This problem can be solved with the use of new affordable and effective methods like drip irrigation, treadle pump system and thermal solar pump systems of irrigation which can be developed with the help of research and by spreading awareness.
Manure and pesticides are again two other necessary things to increase yield and production. Manures provide the much-needed nutrition to plants to help them grow and pesticides provide a guarantee to the farmer that no pests will destroy the crop. However, a huge percentage of crops in India are cultivated without the use of manures and pesticides. This can be observed from the following table:
|Total Cropped Area||1,897,543|
|Area Treated with Manure||391,180|
|Area Not Treated with Manure||1,506,363|
|Area Treated with Pesticides||828,686|
|Area Not Treated with Pesticides||1,068,857|
This occurs mainly due to high costs of these commodities. Most farmers are fearful of the high-interest rates charged to them by various informal sources and are also unaware of the various schemes implemented by the government which provides these materials at subsidized rates.
Seeds are the basic raw material used to produce crops. Farmers also have a hard time trying to obtain good quality seeds with better characteristics at low prices. Inadequate research and genetic engineering have been a constraint in the development of seed technology in India. I believe there is a need to encourage the development of seed technology in both the private and the public sectors to initiate another round of the Green Revolution.
Our farmers have been struggling due to natural calamities from several years. However, I believe the truth is that in India, some of the well-known drought management strategies exist on paper but have not been developed through the right consultative processes, and as a result, they were not implemented. India has the wealth of both modern and indigenous knowledge for adapting to drought and water shortage. What’s probably missing is the effective implementation of a strategy that would allow the existing knowledge and experience to be up-scaled and generalized in all drought-prone areas.
These problems all come together and result in stress and tension for farmers. At times the only solution farmers have in mind is to end the root cause of all these problems that is, end themselves. Highly erratic monsoons in the last 2 to 3 years have aggravated the problems for farmers; manifestations of these in extreme situations can be seen in the form of farmers’ suicides. ‘Bankruptcy or Indebtedness’ and ‘Farming Related Issues’ are reported as major causes of suicides among farmers. This can be observed from the table below:
|Year||No. of Suicides in the Farming Sector|
The government has started various schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana that is a crop insurance policy with relaxed premium rates, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana to promote organic farming, and various schemes to encourage aquaculture and pisciculture, which have been collectively dubbed the ‘Blue Revolution.’ However, as history shows, many such schemes have been introduced in the past decades and have not provided great results. I believe the Government’s priority should be to first set up independent committees that would monitor the proper implementation and execution of these schemes. The government should also promote the formation of self-help groups and cooperative societies that would provide farmers loans at lower interest rates even without sufficient collateral. I also believe that proper assistance and counseling should be provided to poor farmers and also the MSP (Minimum Support Prices) should be increased uniformly keeping in mind the situation of farmers. I believe that waiving off loans is not a permanent solution to the atrocities being faced by farmers and is only structured by politicians to gain votes. Moreover, a valuable amount of taxpayers money is used up. Instead of this, proper long-term solutions and plans must be made to support farmers.
The government should also listen to the difficulties of the farmers and intervene before they commit any dangerous deeds, like what has been seen in the protests being done by the farmers of Tamil Nadu. Since 41 days, farmers from Tamil Nadu have been protesting in Delhi as they were promised an appointment with PM Modi to submit a memorandum but they were not allowed to meet him. They have five demands in their memorandum which includes 39,000 Crore drought relief fund from the Centre for the state’s farmers as the Cauvery Basin was hit with the worst drought in 150 years; linking rivers using Smart Waterways Project; waiving off loans and pensions for the survival of old, ailing or now-disabled farmers.
I believe farmers should be looked at with the eye of humanity and should be treated with respect and dignity. Their suffering is also a concern for us as,
… once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.
Thank you 🙂