The Indian Farmer and his real needs

Suddenly there seems to be a great deal of focus on Agriculture's role and its targeted contribution to the GDP of India. The powers that be, think that "pumping in 15000 crores of rupees (150,000 million) for agricultural loans" or establishing agricultural research centres across the country at huge budgets or planning for a second green revolution with "industry participation" or enticing farmers with contract farming will solve the farmers' problems. It is a curse of democracy that, no matter which party comes to power, its hands are full trying to stay in power and appease vote banks - with little time for constructive work. In addition, the coalition governments in India are under so many conflicting pulls and pushes of the ruling alliance members , it is a miracle that anything useful gets done at all! Administration has no real first-hand knowledge of the problems of the farmer, and most, if not all, in power do not care about him. What is more, governments have tied themselves to compliance with World Trade Organization, and have to tow the lines of Cancun, Doha or whatever treaties - which are very heavily influenced by lobbyists for business. See Lobby Watch and GM Watch.

India is a HUGE seed,fertilizer and pesticide market. All that the business houses are interested in, is tapping this market by hook or crook. And a very hectic lobbying is going on, at so many levels, to influence (read arm-twisting) legislation and policy. Most Indian farmers are in a debt trap, and giving them more loans to get out of debt is like trying to cure an alcoholic with more alcohol. It is evident that the average Indian farmer is in a bad shape as of now; it is equally obvious that governments dont know the answer to the problem. To be brutally honest, governments are just puppets of monolithic business giants and if we farmers expect state or central governments to solve our problems, we will only be chasing a mirage.

What we farmers need is a simple wake-up call, and a few facts to provide that call. We do not need hybrid seeds, government procurement, minimum support price, kissan call centres or almost anything the government thinks up ! If you are in debt, you may need some working capital and for this transition, a bank loan may be handy. But that is about the end of system dependence we need to suffer. If there is one profession in the world which has the potential to be fully self-reliant, it is farming. Everything we need for successful farming is already on the farm or available locally. The system needs the farmer; the farmer doesnt need the system (Except in terms of some rudimentary law-and-order).

First of all, we should take a firm decision to go 100% organic. That is the only truth that will set us free. Next we should stop thinking of farming as a gambling in pure crop cultivation. Even as small a farm as 1 acre should have a diverse cultivation of several types of crops. Organic farming will reduce input costs by 75%; multiple cropping pattern will reduce the risk of failure by 60-70%. Trees and animals form an important part of an integrated organic farm. No matter where you are, there are always useful trees you can grow. And next we should try to grow the family's food requirements from the farm. Contrary to popular belief, it is not difficult to grow rice as a rainfed crop. Native rice varieties like kullakaar can be grown as rainfed. A cow will not only provide nourishing milk for the kids but also provide a stable income round the year. At the worst, the income from selling milk may just meet the upkeep of the cow but the cow's urine and dung produce exceptional nutrition to the farm. If you have an irrigated farm you can grow rice, pulses, chilli, vegetables, fodder, oilseeds and fruits (like papaya, guava, mango) all for the family's consumption. And you are most certain to have a surplus of these; if you have a 3 acre farm you can feed atleast 5 families with this. And if you sell these locally (by local we mean the distance you can travel in a bicycle in an hour) you can earn a recurring monthly income of 10,000 - 12,000 rupees.

What we farmers need is just the realization we are free and self-reliant; we dont need any external input - most certainly not GM seeds imported from US or urea from Europe! Self-reliant organic farming will set us free. Abundant know-how is available regarding organic agronomy. Seeds are available from other organic farms. We have nothing to lose but our debts and chemical debris!

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