Farmer poisoning

This was an article that I had written six years ago. It did get published in the college magazine.

Farmer poisoning

We eat food made from this land, we are living because of it, so why not die for it. Sadly, the very people, the farmers who make for us this food are being killed because of a bizarre reason, distress. For our poor farmers, instead of sowing, seeds of success, they are seeds of suicide. Instead of using the pesticide to kill the pests, they are using it to kill themselves. Such events have become a dreadful influence to our society especially the younger generation.

The thrust on agriculture is heartening though it does mark a dramatic shift from the past. Recently, many state governments lost their rule due to neglect of the deprived farmers, who are a foremost part of the population. So finally agriculture gets the attention it deserves but implementation concerns still remain.

This time around, we have farmers being strangled in every fraction of their turf. The only choice they were provided were the bottomless traps of loan schemes. With the meager structure of the farm sector, now they have huge financial debts in a context of falling prices of farm produce, drought, floods and crop failure.

Our agri-universities have developed numerous equipments and methods which can improve the productivity with reduced expenses yet our villages are still deprived of power and basic farm technology because of non-availability and towering costs. The input costs have shot up with higher power tariffs, water and machinery costs, and tenant farmers have faced massive increase in the cost of leasing land.

Majority of the seeds, pesticides and fertilizers are of poor quality and farmers are deceived by the vibrant advertisements. On the front of a packet, it's written that it's a "well-known brand of seed" And the reverse of the packet states "Germination rate 65 %" meaning one third of it will fail.

On approaching the countryside moneylender, we find it astonishing that this moneylender is at once a merchant, a moneylender, a scientist, an agro-technologist and an expert. Thus the farmer is very vulnerable to the pressure of this dealer. For every Rs.5000 a farmer spends, the dealer gets Rs.1000 of it. "All gains are the dealer's, all losses are ours", says one farmer. When the MNCs entered the field, controls and regulation were dropped, money lending became more callous. "You can die but they have to get their money", says a farmer. The government is working at connecting the farm to the firm, they should also bond it to the retail end lucratively.

On analyzing the farmers, it has been found that loans have been disappointingly utilized and those who are struggling are the small time farmers who are without assistance and knowledge about the market trends and economy. Most of these farmers do not have the financial discipline required. The consumer trend has shown that people spend money on needless things just to show others. Farmers should learn to set aside money to which they can fall back on during a crisis. Fake claims and exploitation of farmer's suicides for political or personal ends are mounting. Thus a thorough focus specially on those farmers that are in agony is imperative.

The state government has announced certain measures, including a moratorium on the repayment of bank loans availed by farmers yet suicides persist. Awareness and encouragement must be provided through counseling, this will reduce the trauma. Furthermore, there is an acute shortage of alternate sources of survival, thus a troubled farmer easily doubts the reason for his existence. Cottage industries and entrepreneurship must develop.

Writing off loans, reducing duties on machineries, free power and interest free loans can be commendable but it may build incompetent structures and may lead to overcapitalization. Thus they can only be termed as short term solutions. We need long term effective solutions.

The government must inculcate technology spreading missions. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan said that several villages had made excellent use of the information technology. Villages can use the internet to track countrywide market prices of crops. Fishers can use the data provided by the ISRO satellites on ocean wave formation to plan where to fish.Irrigation schemes and water resources are significant for agriculture, yet it is estimated that 40% of the resources spent in these schemes simply vanish. It's a fixture of direction versus delivery.

India has become the land of the dying destitute, non-availability of food and medicine for the masses when shops, warehouses and factories are overstocked. Our agriculture needs a comprehensive package making up a mega formula catering all needs and constraints for an ideal agri-business. If every other sector of our economy adopts such complete modules of management, our country will turn out to be a better place.

Anel Sarasan,

November, 2004

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