Ordeals of Indian Farmers
In Rural India, agriculture is the main source of income or livelihood for a majority of people. Farmers, despite the importance of their work, have faced a lot of grievances for a prolonged time and this has pushed them into the poverty trap.
MARGINAL FARMERS AND THE MAJOR PROBLEMS FACED BY THEM:
Farmers having less than two hectares (five acres) of land are called small farmers and those having less than one hectare (2.5 acres) are called marginal farmers.
- Small and fragmented land holdings: Due to our inheritance laws, and more number of family members the land is divided into smaller sub-divisions or fragments. This is mainly observed in densely populated and intensively cultivated states of Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and eastern parts of UP.
- A lot of time and labour is wasted, fertile land is lost, irrigation becomes difficult on such small and fragmented fields. Hence, this is one of the main reasons for reduced agricultural productivity and the backward state of agriculture.
- Lack of irrigation facilities: In India, rainfall is uncertain and unreliable, hence irrigation is very important to obtain sustained progress in agriculture. But only limited areas are under irrigation or seasonal irrigation, hence most of the land remains under drought. Also due to faulty irrigation which causes waterlogging large tracts in Punjab, Haryana are rendered useless.
- Lack of mechanism: In spite of modern technologies and large scale mechanization in some parts of the country, the majority of the agricultural operations are carried out manually by humans using simple and conventional tools. Little or no use of machinery is implemented in processes of sowing, ploughing harvesting, threshing etc. Due to this, there is a huge wastage of human labour and low yield per capita labour force.
- Inadequate storage facilities: Storage facilities mainly in rural areas are either totally absent or inadequate. Hence the farmers are compelled to sell their produce immediately after harvesting at much lower market prices than estimated. Hence it is a huge loss to the farmers, as they are deprived of their legitimate income.
- Seeds: High-quality seeds are necessary for better yields. Most of the marginal farmers could not afford such good quality seeds due to their excessive prices. Hence the production of good quality crops could not be obtained.
- Inadequate transportation facilities; Most of the roads in the rural areas are still not developed or are under construction, and it becomes difficult for the farmers to transport their yields during the rainy seasons. To date there is a lack of cheap and efficient means of transportation, therefore the farmers are forced to sell their produce in the local markets at a much lower price.
And the list goes on...
- Despite decades of planning, the majority of farmers are still facing problems with poor production. According to the 2010–11 Agricultural census, the total number of operational holdings, 85% are in marginal and small farm categories of less than 2 ha(GOI, 2014).
- Farming for subsistence makes the scale of the economy in question with the majority of smallholding.
- Less use of technology, mechanisation, modern technologies and poor conductivity are major concerns.
- Very less value addition as compared to developed countries and negligible primary level processing at farmers level.
- Poor infrastructure for farming making it more dependent on weather, marketing and supply chain suitable for high-value crops.
- Most of the farmers in India are illiterate and are completely unaware of the new technologies, and it is difficult for them to use or implement them in their fields.
- As of 2020, the suicide rate in the farming sector accounted for 7.4% of the total suicides in our country.
The primary reason being the inability to repay loans, along with other reasons including floods, droughts, debt, genetically modified seeds etc.
- Misuse of government subsidies and funds by higher authorities is a major reason for a grievance to the marginal farmers.
- As per reports by the central government and NCRB, government farming subsidies from 1993 to 2018, mostly went to producers and dealers of seeds and fertilizers, and not to the farmers
- Hence this results in money being circulated between the government, banks, large corporations, and politicians, without any of it reaching the farmers and thus worsening their situation over the years
Solutions to the problems
- The solution to small and fragmented land holdings is the consolidation of holdings. This legislation for consolidation of holdings has been enacted by almost all states, but it needs to be implemented as well.
- There is a need for better water management like improved modern methods of rainwater harvesting, construction of national waterways, driving surplus water from perennial rivers to the needy areas.
- In order to save the farmers from the clutches of politicians and moneylenders or middlemen, alternate markets, marketing channels and distribution network has to be created. Online Mandi and Markets are way forwards. Companies like Aggrigate, DeHaat etc. can prove to a viable solution.
- Providing storage facilities — Scientific storage facilities is essential to avoid losses and to benefit the farmers. At present agencies like the Food Corporation of India (F.C.I), the Central Warehousing Corporation (C.W.C) are engaged in this task. These would help farmers to store their produce near their fields in particular to the marginal farmers.
- Lastly and most importantly, Education to the farmers: Most of the farmers are not aware of techniques such as crop rotation, polyculture, soil enrichment, natural pest predators etc which enhance agricultural productivity. Thus education in the agricultural sector to people especially in rural and urban areas is important. These education programs will not only increase local food availability but also increase the sustainability of agricultural practises and thus reduce the problems faced by most marginal farmers.
Story By: Prerana Ghosh