Friday, January 27, 2012

In search of farmer...........

heartful thanks to Mr. Logesh Mathivathanan for English translation

It is a shame to India, suicides of Cotton Farmers have become commonplace. To stop this from happening, we who had just celebrated the glorious Pongal (the ultimate Farmers' day) have to think about it. Not long ago, India used to export surplus produce to foreign nations. During the past few years, we have become insufficient and have started importing rice, wheat, grams and sugar even for our own use. Our farming lands have shrunk and our production capacity has lessened. During 1996 - 2007, the situation took about 1,50,000 farmers lives. If this situation continues, India would have to depend and even beg other countries for Her food. We the people are the ones who will be affected if such a situation may arise. 

Why do cotton farmers commit suicide? Drop in price, production, loans towards seeds and pesticides especially Bt and GMO seeds. Farmers are greedy too. Cotton yields more profit, and continuous farming of cotton on subsequent seasons causes the soil to lose fertility. Farmers are forced to spend more on fertilizers and pesticides. Larger variety of insects and those with increased resistance towards insecticides continue to bug farmers. Disease prevention and the need for insecticides increase along with their cost. All of us with school education have learned about rotation of crops, plant growth, soil fertility, vegetables, plants, and trees. 

Why do cotton farmers commit suicide upon frustration? We are all consumers of food, but never do we respect the noble profession of farming and farmers. Above all, farming is not a profitable affair for the farmer. Vendors, brokers (middlemen), and town supermarkets are the ones who reap profits. Is there any industrial product whose price is determined by the consumer? Let's consider a pen for example. The final price of a pen can be broken down to the cost of the ingredients, packing, transportation, profit for the producer, and profit for the vendor and all taxes. Price is only determined after calculating everything mentioned above. The same doesn't apply to agricultural products. The price here is defined by the buyer. 

India is not a drought prone region in any time by her natural resources. India faced many droughts in the history due to mishaps in the administration by kings and British like double taxation and one third of produce paid as tax etc.

An argument that students from agricultural families don't continue to involve in agriculture can not be accepted. Is there a son/daughter of an industrialist who doesn't follow his/her father's footsteps just because they've had an education? If the profession is profitable, they'd continue the same profession as their parents. Politics is no exception and we can give countless examples. 

India is the second largest producer of cotton. No country can keep its global position in agricultural products permanently. Soil fertility wouldn't allow it. Farming the same crop continuously reduces soil fertility. Exceptions also exist, Jute is a fine example. India and Bangladesh are the first and second largest producers of jute in the world. This would never change. Mainly because there's no other country that has the optimum environment to grow jute. 

Can we leave the situation as it is? You and I will definitely be affected by this. I may not be able to translate my thoughts completely in writing, but if we think about it a bit more seriously, the seriousness of the issue will be evident. I thought I should do something about this. At least a little plan might work, I thought. In every village, the farmers should unite and form a group (something like a self-help group). Agriculture should be done as a group in the entire agricultural fields of the village, throughout the year. Food grains, vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruits, trees and oil seeds should be planted according to soil fertility in such a way that there is work for everyone round the year. There should be a system in place where the investment, management, distribution of labour and profit are all managed. This plan should be properly classified and streamlined. Of course, the Government's help is also needed. The government can form a department for this purpose and form centers in every district. Agriculture extension centres already in place can also be utilized. These centers can suggest plantations according to the fertility of the soil and water sources around the area. They could also help eradicate technical and other difficulties that may arise. Banks can help by lending loans in the beginning of this plan and they can also become shareholders. Monthly internships to farmers can be distributed. India helps Afghanistan, African countries, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Can't India help her own farmers? There are taxes for everything -- there can be a separate tax for this plan itself.

Rotation of crops in the same land can only increase soil fertility. An insect of one plant can be the predator to insect of one of the other plant. Do we know of a forest ripe with millions of plants, animals and insects die of any disease? or insect attack? Farmers see benefits upon every harvest; Even if some of the crops cause losses, other crops can compensate with a big profit -- investment and hard work will not go waste. Natural disasters wouldn't cause all the crops to die either. Even if such a scenario does happen, government should provide compensation to the farmers. 

Another commodity the government should provide is electricity. Electricity given to an MNC industry can be given to several hundreds of acres of farmland. Instead of providing discounts to new industries, the government can help the farmers who feed us. Agri-associated industries, such as seed producing industries, fertilizer factories, agricultural equipment manufacturers, food processing industries, etc., should also be given concessions. 

It may so happen that industries such as textile industry be affected. Even if that happens, industrialists can easily divert to more profitable industries. Workers of those industries have to suffer a lot to switchover for their survival. But similar can not be said about farmers who if lose the land or the fertility, can not easily get that back. It is also difficult to "gain" a farmer. The traditional knowledge of farmers can not be procured by people who become farmers from other professions. Farmers' traditional knowledge once lost is lost forever. 

More importantly, we learnt a great lesson of the green revolution by hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides was a failure in last 50 years. Also we have to learn lessons from Masanobu Fukoka and other  natural agriculture scientists that agricultural yields are higher by cooperating with natural processes. Other great danger with us is permitting GMO in food, commonly called as Bt. GMO or Bt is introducing a toxin or poison into the plants dna. the toxin grows with the plants and the toxin is present in all parts of the plant and also spreads to the soil. Bt is bacteria introduced to plant. i dont how to call that a plant or a bacteria in plant form. A known fact that even drought hit African countries dont want to take Bt corn in the seed form in the fear that by any chance it will grow and spoil the soil and organisms in the land, it takes the bt corn in the crushed powder form.

In the initiation of this project, in my opinion the farmer should not be compelled to do natural/traditional/organic/biodynamic forms of agriculture. Now the farmers are only encouraged to do agriculture to keep the lands under cultivation. Gradually the farmers can be diverted to the sustainable forms of agriculture.

I do not know agriculture, economics or management. The readers who happen to read this should share this with your friends and experts in the field. We need to include the opinions of experts. Will this plan work? What kind of improvements need to be made? We need to find all the ways to make this a success to bring this plan to execution. The most important part is the opinion of the Farmer. Not just the farmers from Tamil Nadu, (author is a native of Tamil Nadu) but from all over India. We need to mention this to all the farmers all over the country and get their opinion. For that, we need to translate this to all Indian languages. Once we translate this to Hindi or English, it becomes easier to translate to other languages. Need help from you and your friends for translation. Will you help……..?

don't hesitate to give your comments, suggestions, opinions, corrections.......

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1 comment:

  1. a news was published in Hindu newspaper as similar to this blogpost after a day of tamil version upload. link below