Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Lost Paradise

My village which is really an extension of Borgaon Manju ( Akola MS India). 18 Km from district place Akola on national highway no 6 in Maharashtra. Our home 3 KM away from village with 42 other homes from same family and around 100 government quarters for railway workers and railway station. Family is involed in farming and agriculture. The land is very good quality, black cotton known for its productivity with water table at 40 feet at that time. I am talking of time when I was a kid. These 40 years has change everything in this small paradise.

Agriculture is giving very good yield, cotton known as white gold was a main stay as commercial crop giving year after year guaranteed returns. Jowar(one of the cereals Sorghum) as staple crop and pulses to support mix cropping. Livestock’s, buffalo’s, cows and bullocks and goats was part of life. All agriculture operations are manual with bullocks playing key role in all operations. Orchards of mango, lemon and other plants are necessary part of life.

There were almost 40 permanent laborer’s staying and working in the farm. Almost all family use to work in the farm except school goings kids. Now only 4 families.

If I see economics it was great, I knew every year we use to have surplus of at least a million Indian Rupees that was great. There was no concept of taking loan from banks for cropping. We use to pay daily wages to all labor’s every week and jowar a kg a day per person and annual two pairs of cloths apart from their vegetables. Everybody was happy. Most of the time we use to bear education cost of their children’s as part of our social responsibility.

This was really golden era of Indian Farming, with university support and government extensions work we use to get all updated information along with technology.
When I look back now, see the things, I feel sorry about the present status of my villages. Indian is growing at 8 percent and people are getting rich and media and government are saying poverty is down. But when I get call from my cousin that he needs money for cropping this year urgently, I got surprised. Same land which use to deliver millions every year, today no money. “Who has stolen my money”. In last four years every year I have to step in to solve the issues.

One of my cousin has taken a loan of RS 60,000 four years back (fortunately not on interest). But on agreement that his land will be mortgage to money lender, money lender will cultivate the land until he pays back whole amount in one shot. The value of land is almost 500,000 or more and annual yield may be more than 60,000 INR, this is irrigated land. When I saw him worried and losing weight with old parents who earn all this from hard work working in Saudi Arabia. I given his to get back his land from money lender.

Water table is down 100%
Soil salinity is up so production is down
Debt has increased substantially because of capital intensive farming.

I want to ask just one question. Where is development? I don’t believe these big numbers, I like to see it in grounds.
Every year many farmers are committing the suicide? Why are they so desperate to die? Has any one has any answer for the same. You may have numbers but not the answer.

One suicide every 8 hours

Vidarbha remains a grim statistic. One suicide in every eight hours. More than half of those who committed suicide were between 20 and 45, their most productive years. The Maharashtra government says as many as 1920 farmers committed suicide between January 1, 2001 and August 19, 2006. Nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers are defaulters, reports Jaideep Hardikar

Cost of cultivation

Across the country, the average cost of cultivation in cotton is a little more than Rs 16,000 per ha. With an average productivity of 460 kg per ha, it costs between Rs 35 to Rs 48 per kg to grow cotton. In Vidarbha, the cost of cultivation could go well beyond Rs 20,000 perha and if marketing cost is added, it crosses Rs 22,000. But the productivity is only 146 kg per ha. In other words, the cost per kg is almost double --- well over Rs 70 per kg. In Maharashtra, the cost of growing cotton increased from Rs 17,234/ha in 2001-02 to Rs 20,859 in 2002-03.

The Planning Commission's fact-finding mission members found out that nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers in Vidarbha are defaulters. Of every Rs 100 borrowed, approximately Rs 80 goes back in to servicing of old loans.

Export-oriented agriculture

Until very recently, the majority of farmers throughout Asia would grow a range of seasonally varied crops for their own consumption, along with some extra for trade at local markets. Now, with a shift to export-oriented agriculture, farmers are required to generate those products that fit into the narrow constraints of the global market place. What is more, their production is expected to be large-scale, uniform and highly specialized.
In her testimony to the Women’s Tribunal, Yaowapa Promwong related that, until a decade ago, families in her village in northeast Thailand exchanged seeds with each other. Most families would grow rice as their main crop, each usually growing several different varieties. Different families therefore had different harvesting seasons, allowing for community members to help each other during the harvests. Through such activities, production costs were kept low and community spirit was strong. In addition to their primary crops, families would often farm fish, prawns and other shellfish in the rice fields, grow vegetables, and raise livestock around their homes. They produced enough food for their own consumption, often with surplus to trade at local markets. This culture is now quickly disappearing.

The decline of seed-saving
Chemical-intensive agriculture
Imports and subsidies

Why Suicide
Money lenders – Most farmer suicides result from their inability to repay loans taken from unscrupulous money lenders. Lending at usurious rates, up to 70% of poor village population goes to money lenders for loan, alternative financing being unavailable for them. Our financial system does not have space for the poor of the villages.

Capital Intensive Farming- We have made farming very costing, all input costs have become so high that profitability has been severely impacted. Farming has become un-economic for the farmers.

Intensive and export oriented farming – Single and intensive cropping has made farmers poor and more prone to foreign market preferences and seasonal factors like monsoons.

Way Out
· Freedom from Usury – the only solution is Interest free financing.
· Returning to sustainable farming practices.
· Better access to markets.
· Multiple cropping and mix cropping.
· Water Conservation
· Agriculture ( Food) Processing Industries
· Village Industries

New Report on Present Status of Poverty in India

India is emerging as the world centre of hunger and malnutrition, a report by Indian campaign group, the Navdanya Trust, says.
The trust says that there are more than 200 million people - or one-in-four Indians - going without enough to eat.
The prominent environmentalist Vandana Shiva, who runs the trust, said there were now more hungry people in India than in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ms Shiva said that 57 million children in India are underweight due to malnutrition.
The Navdanya Trust says that per capita food consumption in India has decreased from 186 kg per person annually in 1991 to 152 kg in 2001, despite government food subsidies costing billions of dollars.
She was also critical of genetically modified crops and chemical fertilizers, arguing that they only served to increase the costs of food production, forcing farmers into debt and in some cases causing them to commit suicide.
"Studies worldwide show that the hungriest of people are its producers - the farmers," she said.
Some experts say that if the government is able to pass the bill it will be a significant first step towards improving India's ranking on the global hunger index.
The trust's report follows a UN study released in June which said that hunger in South Asia had reached its highest level in 40 years because of food and fuel price rises and the global economic downturn.
The report by the UN children's fund, Unicef, says that 100 million more people in the region are going hungry compared with two years ago.

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