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Nature / Agriculture
Gambling that failed again Bookmark and Share  
  Author Name : Sanjeev Raspaile Posted on : August-12-2009 Total Hits: 3519
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The plight of farmers in India is really a cause of concern. It’s just mid August, the third month into the monsoon. But the rainfall in most of the agricultural areas till this time is really a sign of worrisome times ahead. Latest metrological data shows that the rainfall has been less than average in most part of the country. Monsoon season is usually referred as 'Gambling of Indian Agriculture', once again this time it has been adverse.

 Most of the agriculture in India is still dependant on the rainwater. Network and advantages of irrigation haven’t percolated to the rural grassroots. An average farmer has landholding of less than two hectors of size, which cannot provide him income at subsistence level. He cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of irrigation. Therefore his hopes and life depends solely on the monsoon.

This year, initially, monsoon arrived too late; and then it was too less. Monsoon arrived almost a month behind its normal schedule in most of the Indian plateau. Farmers consoled themselves that it’s better late than never. Sowing was carried out happily with renewed hopes. And then, monsoon played the prank. It vanished! Sowed crop has already started drying and losing life. If monsoon doesn’t recover its potential within next fifteen days, the crop will be lost. 

Situation in Vidarbha, the eastern region of Maharashtra is very tense. This region gained its disrepute owing to mass suicide by farmers. Years of neglect by the government machinery and Mother Nature alike left them in lurch. Food providers of the nation were unable to provide a square meal to their own children. Every year, with renewed hope to carryout routine farming process, they begged to the authorities for money. As government turned indifferent, they sought help from the moneylenders. This turned out to be the nail in their coffin. 

Monsoon failed them for successive years. Moneylenders’ debts started piling up. Farmers’ had to sell off their houses, lands, livestock, tools, etc. But still, rain god played tyrant. Hopes died first and then they killed themselves leaving their dependents to fend for themselves.

This year again as the monsoon is playing prank, four farmers committed suicide just in Vidarbha a day before ‘Raksha Bandhan’. They were sure that they can’t afford to fulfil their family members’ wishes this festival. Forget about the celebration, they were unable to feed a morsel of food to their children. Unable to withstand the disappointment and insult in their own eyes, they chose an easier option. They ended their lives.

The government offered approximately Rs60,000 crores of loan waiver to the farmers countrywide. This was supposed to bring relief to the farmers facing draughts, infertility of soil and depleting farm output. All the packages offered by the government and all other dangling carrots came to a nought as suicides by farmers are not abating. But government is not ready to learn its lessons. Throwing bundles of money was like applying ointment on the surface when the disease has hollowed the tissues from within. 
 As per National Sample Survey Organisation’s 59th round (2005), 40% of the farmers are willing to quit agriculture, 27% accept that it is a loss-making business and around 8% find agriculture as a risky business. No wonder that the younger generation of farmers are opting out of it and migrating to cities for greener pastures.

The big question is – in future, who will provide food to the mankind? A blank face for an answer is a sign of grave situation looming large upon us. It is a high time that we the citizens and consumers of farm produce take initiative. Let us force government to take constructive measures to resurrect our farm sector and pour a give a new lease of life to our farmers. Let us not get peeved to pay a bit higher price to the farmers’ output. Let us buy food and vegetables directly from farmers wherever possible. Let us share our joys and festivals with their children. We don’t mind spending thousands on many mindless activities. Why not spend a fraction of it to help our ‘anna-data’ farmers?

Farmers provide us food to eat. Let us ensure that they get their due and a meal at least.

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