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Issue:January' 2018


Reviving farming

Elsa Lycias Joel “Once in your life you need a doctor, lawyer, policeman, or preacher but every day — three times a day — you need a farmer.”

Kisan Mukti March

It wasn’t so long ago when every other person in a family knew farming. Owning an arable land also meant frequent visits to the land to know the nitty- gritty details. From sowing to planting to the final harvest all members of a family knew what all it took to earn a few sacks full of rice. Good rice grew out of months of hard work not to mention the anticipation of each one involved in the whole process.

Most households owned at least a cent of arable land. Many knew the hardships behind cultivation. Even the most unskilled one in a family had a small role to play in addition to observing the sweat and toil.Then there were no stories of climatic variations, GM seeds and crops, conversion of agricultural lands to residential or industrial lands and above everything agrarian crisis. In my own small secret world I celebrated anything done in our paddy field. Harvesting coconuts was too much fun. Most of all, it used to thrill me watch the coconut climber scale trees with deceptive ease.

Today, palm oil expansion sounds an alarm as much as the dwindling number of coconut climbers does. Oil palms guzzle up more water than coconut palms. Still, new technologies, hybrids, facilities and subsidies motivate farmers to switch over to oil palm farming. Palm oil is directly linked with severe ecological damage. We have already seen it in Malaysia and Indonesia.

India holds the world’s second largest agricultural land area. It has about 20 agroclimatic regions, and all 15 major climates in the world exist here. Consequently, it is a large producer of a wide variety of foods. India is the world’s largest producer of spices, pulses, milk, tea, cashew and jute, and the second largest producer of wheat, rice, fruits and vegetables, sugarcane, cotton and oilseeds.
It is the largest producer of mango and banana. It also has the highest productivity of grapes in the world. Agricultural export constitutes 10% of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity (scroll. In, June 19, 2017).

The report of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says at least, 2,70,940 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1995. The layman understanding of farmers’ problem is that trade, government budgets, schemes, banks and financial systems, technology and technoproducts, and the package of modern agricultural practices are all geared to help big farmers not small and marginal ones.

The government should pick genuine needy farmers, educate and train them, improve logistics and storage services that might eliminate middlemen and agents. India’s agriculture depends on rains. We must have water resources suitable for round-the -year agriculture.

Accusations of our government being antifarmer, anti-poor by almost 200 farm organizations under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee should be paid heed to.