The following is an article published in THE HINDU, a daily and I thought of adding few comments to the farmer's continuous questions, which has been asked for decades on which the country raiders (government) don't have any hearing. We need a real alternative to save peasants.
Break the barriers between researchers and ryots
M. J. PRABU
For a farmer, the field is office and a good crop means a rewarding salary. “If he manages to get a little extra then he considers it as a bonus. In a country, where agriculture is supposed to be thousands of years old, isn’t it an irony that a majority of its farmers are not happy financially,” says Mr. P. Jayaram, a progressive farmer in Bangalore growing grapes, tomato, vegetables and mulberry in 15 acres. Who is to be blamed for the present crises?
Core reason: British are to blame. They were the one who have dismantled the village economy by bringing in the exploitative agriculture based on cotton, indigo, saltpetre, tobacco, tea, coffee and rice exports.
Accountability is a must
“There is no use in passing the buck. Accountability is a must, Of what use are all the financial schemes and bank loans, all claiming to be in the farmers’ interest?
“Most of these are only on paper. Do you know the difficulty in getting a Rs.10,000 small-crop loan from a bank? Ask a farmer and he will tell you. And today we are able to buy a Rs. 5 lakh car in a few hours over the phone. Is this a healthy economy?” he asks.
“I am not disputing the fact that the facilities and comforts are today a necessity, but in the name of new luxuries, farmers and agriculture should not be bartered,” he contends.
“Agriculture” is bartered i.e. the peasant farmers living in a village. Agriproduction is welcomed by the credit institutions. The economic system is capital centric. If a crop (Take example of Vanilla, Tea, Coffee, Sugarcane, cutflowers or any commercial crops, food processing) is economically yielding those farmers get crores of Rupees. I know a friend who works in a private bank didn’t want to risk with small farmers rather giving loans to few capital and creditworthy paddy processors than peasant paddy growers. The peasant farmers who stick to the staple food production were only bartered. Peasant farming is survival case for farmers. Banks are not charity institutions to lend the peasants. They will red carpet the non-food growers, borewell business, sand mining business and all sorts of businesses which destroys peasant farming resources. Gov’t has no understanding and this post independence gov’t is the middleman between illegal corporate and “85% land owning peasants”.
Role of media
India being an agrarian country, it is the duty of journalists to identify and suggest solutions to burning problems of villages, instead of only reporting on deaths and suicides, Mr. Jayaram argues, calling on the media to be proactive in this.
A journalist’s report must be like a platform to record, show, inform the society about farming experiences in villages, and their traditional methods of conserving land, water etc. According to him, though farmers are true scholars in their area, in reality they are not treated so.
Journalism in agriculture needs lot of regional and local understanding. Unfortunately it is the fundamental lacking point in the government system. Then how come the media would address the farmers issue. In India, the media don’t had original thinking and expressions since independence. It failed to fight the under understanding and misunderstanding policies of the nehruvian model.
“Often the brick compound wall and wire fences erected around agriculture research centres keep them away from approaching these places.
“Being shy and reserved by nature, a farmer naturally gets flabbergasted by the security at the gate and the protocols involved in such centres,” he says.
“Till date I have never heard or seen any instance where a farmer treats his guests anything but cordially. But the same farmer seldom receives the same courtesy in agricultural offices or research centres he visits.”
Securities were not five star hotel employees and researchers are not extension or consulting officer to receive the farmers cordially and hear his queries. But the AOs in the gov’t system, they are and they must. For that they should be from local area and they should be consulted by the IAS officers in the top hierarchy for bringing policy decisions. Most of the AOs have interests to help farmers, but the misunderstood and malfunctioning top level administration will always destroy interests of grassroot extension officials. Brainless IAS officers and the backboneless politicians were to blame.
Not be a barrier
“Such a treatment of the farmers is not acceptable. The high walls of the research centres should be limited to safeguard the privacy of research, and must not become a barrier between the minds of the researchers and the farmers,” explains Mr. Jayaram. In fact it is their knowledge and skills that should be sought after by those in agricultural varsities. Scientific farming should evolve involving “true scholars” – the farmers, according to him. The fact to be noted here is that though the famine or flood does not seem to affect a politician a beauraucrat or businessman - it is only the farmer who endures the loss and suffers.
I never accept the scientific farming. It is scientific production. Farming is a history. Today, we have ultra modern scientists who compartmentalize the farming research and fail to think coherently to move further. Thatswhy the mainstreams disciplines like of so called scientific farming marches in different directions.
“Have you ever heard about a person from any other profession committing suicide due to crop failure,” he asks.
Seeds, fertilizers, insecticides etc. do not come free of cost. Even such a basic profession as farming needs money.
And the farmer needs financial assistance. Drawn by the several advertisements, that endorse these financial institutions, a farmer buys the seeds and sows it with hopes of high yields.
“When he fails to get a good yield the company that supplied the seeds does not take any reponsibility, and the agriculture experts keep tight lipped. This is the case prevailing in many villages,” asserts Mr. Jayaram.
Guinnie pigs are only for tests. But unfortunately, here they are also for the businesses.
By lowering the rate of interests time and again, the government too indirectly encourages them to take such financial assistance, making them lifelong debtors.
The hope of a getting a good yield remains just a dream for a poor farmer.
For more details readers can contact Mr. P. Jayaram, Byrdhenahalli, Devanahalli taluk, Bangalore rural, mobile: 09740963352 and 09591527526.
Government is misgoverned. It will lost until it gets separated from the export oriented exploitative agriculture.
Land is important and its important that how you use the land. The current government system has no clue or understanding about the traditional system managing the land. Next generation has already turned in to economic, cultural and environmental refugees due to the wrong temptation, education and resource management. Its is time for the proactive, truthful scientists and the traditional farm folks who haven't lost their traditional land governance knowledge to wakeup and make checks wherever necessary to stop government in spoiling the system and reclaim the local administrative system.
Thank you M.J.Prabhu, THE HINDU