Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist. A farmer is a magician who produces money from the mud. To most people, this is just dirt. To a farmer, it is potential. Farming is more than dirt, plows, and tractors. Farming is the largest industry in the world and employs the majority of the workers. If we look into the classification of the society’s activities, these can easily be categorized as: farming, trading, labor, begging, servicing, (both government as well as private sector), politics and of course the unemployment. Excepting the farmers (self contained) the survival of all those involved in other activities is linked to the movement of farmers. It is the category that always remains at the mercy of nature and God and politicians the human creation. They are utilized as vote bank by politicians rather than as food provider (Anndata) and that is the tyranny of luck of this category.
According to Thomas Jefferson “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds”. The percentage of the total population in farming in India is 48% among male and 63% among female that constitute 25% of total population in male and 16% in female. During 1951 the total numbers of cultivators including workers was 97.2 million (32.55 %) of total rural population that constitute 26.92 of total population. But during 2011 (census report) the total number of cultivators including workers was 263 million of total rural population that constituted 21.71% of total population.
We come across a report released by NGO ‘Lokniti’, a research program of the ‘Centre for the Study of Developing Societies’ (CSDS), an Indian research institute for the social sciences and humanities based on survey carried over to 274 villages spread over 137 district of 18 Indian states revealed, proportion of Indian farmers are dissatisfied with their condition and would like to shift to cities.
Of the 22% who dislike farming, 36% farmers claim not good income as the main reason, 18% doing farming because of family pressure, 16% visualize no future in this sector, 9% wish to do another job, while 7% consider farming stressful or risky.
Farming as a career can be mired in doom and gloom: Income is down, farmers are retiring faster than we can replace them, climate change is freaking everyone out, and those who grow it don’t even get to enjoy it.
The agriculture in India largely depends on monsoon; thus production of food-grains
fluctuates year after year. Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai found that indebtedness is the single largest underlying cause behind farmers’ suicide including low income and crop failure. Problems chasing the farmers are mainly voiced as; farming is unorganized activity in unorganized sector. No systematic institutional and organizational planning involved in cultivation, irrigation, harvesting etc. Most farms are small and economically unfeasible, majority of the farmers in India own as little as two acres of land, clubbing of small fields may help several farmers. Government programs do not reach small farmers.
The fertile land best suited for agricultural purpose being sold to real estate. Experts in the field suggest some measures as; educate the farmers about cultivation of multi crops, many farmers in India are not aware of crop rotation, developing special agricultural zone Just like industrial zone, where only farming and agriculture related activity should be allowed, modernize agriculture by introducing farm techniques, increase youth participation on agricultural fields, technological advancement in agriculture should be passed down to the small farmers. There is immediate requirement of visiting the minimum support prices (MSPs) to incentivize the cultivators to adopt modern technology, and raise productivity and overall grain production, in line with the emerging demand patterns in the country. In recent years the experts speaks that only the well-to-do farmers have been benefitted from the hikes in support prices. Common farmer’s hands are tied not by ropes but by the greed of the intermediaries that the system has generated, who eat up the farmer’s income while it is on its way into his hands.
We find that the hollow promises of the political parties during election times to uplift farmers drain out and ugly faces of political hawks after their assumption of power become visible to forming community during the processions of farmers for basic needs addressed by batons and bullets. We come across tall claims of government to wave off the crop and agricultural loans of farmers totaling Rs 72,000 crore outstanding in crop and agriculture term loans that has not seen the light of the day yet. The NDA government is accused of adopting an anti-farmer and pro-corporate stance.
The single Gautam Adani’s firm has been given loan of 72000 crores just equaling to total loans of farmers is an eye opener. We hope the lolly-pop of Modi made in ‘Krishi Unnati Mela 2018’ in March to increase 1.5 times MSP for crops promised to double it by 2022, will not ultimately come out as hollow promises (just to win 2019 elections like so many of 2014) like that of 15 lacs in individuals account, two crore jobs annually and so on. The agriculture sector contributed 51.9 percent to India’s GDP in 1950. Since then it has been on a downside and it currently stands at 13.9 percent. Some factors much talked in agriculture sector are: India is the second largest irrigated country of the world after China, but only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation. In spite of the large scale mechanization of agriculture in some parts of the country, most of the agricultural operations in larger parts are carried on by human hand using simple and conventional tools and implement. By owning a fragmented land, effective irrigation and optimum usage of fertilizers for crops becomes difficult. The Union Agriculture Ministry and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had launched the second phase of the “Feed the Future” India triangular training program, in a bid to bring specialized agriculture training.
The government has launched ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’ in order to address the critical importance of soil and water for improving agricultural production. The government has expressed to support and improve the organic farming practices prevalent in India. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved Blue Revolution in India. It’s an integrated scheme designed to increase the productivity and profitability from aquaculture and fisheries resources, inclusive of both inland and marine.
We come across about much talked ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna’ (PMFBY) but experts on the subject term it as a dressed up version of the two existing schemes, namely NAIS (National Agricultural Insurance Scheme) and the MNAIS (Modified NAIS). An organization ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture) has remarked it as a lot of hype to create an impression as if the Indian farmers have been finally secured from recurrent crop losses. The scheme is commented as an understanding within the departments and insurance companies. An atlas of critical weather elements which trigger crop-yield losses in different crop growth periods should be developed for different agro-climatic regions. National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has announced many dairy projects, to focus on improving the milk productivity. The government would support and improve the organic farming practices prevalent in India.
This all is possible only if the farmer is considered as ‘Ann Data’ by the politicians rather than as a ‘Vote Bank’ and they realize if the farmer is rich, then so is the nation. Let us have our deep respect for the farmers and land. Its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables.
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)
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