‘National Farmer’s Day’ is celebrated on 23rd December. It is the birthday of Former Prime Minister of India Chaudhary Charan Singh. Charan Singh, the Jat icon belonged to a peasant family, which made him relate himself with the problems of the farmers. Consequently, he did his best to support them. He was a son of the soil and his efforts towards the improvement of an Indian farmer are unparalleled. He played a major role in shaping and implementing some crucial laws like the Zamindari Abolition Act (1952), Consolidation of Holdings Act of 1953, and the Imposition of Ceilings on Land Holdings Act of 1960. He also introduced an Agricultural Produce Market Bill for the welfare of the farmers. Singh worked very hard for the development of farmers. Charan Singh will always be remembered as Kisanon Ke Neta or farmers’ leader.
India is basically an agricultural-dependent nation with nearly half of its population residing in villages. Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy that contributes to the overall economic growth of the country and determines the standard of life for more than 50% of the Indian population. It employs more than half of the Indian population. Though, there was a time when approximately 75% of the Indian population was dependent on agriculture for earning their livelihood.
Charan Singh contributed a lot to improve the condition of Indian farmers by understanding the real problems of farmers and he did his best to help them. His passionate appeal and magnetic persona united all the farmers against the moneylenders and landlords. He was also a very effective writer and penned his thoughts on farmers and their problems and solutions. He served as the Prime Minister of India from 28 July 1979 until 14 January 1980.
According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, the total of number of suicides committed by farmers for agrarian reasons in the last three years stands more than 3500. Farmers’ distress is financial and the impending struggles. Suicide committed by them is a national phenomenon though most cases go unreported. Farm suicides, whether owing to purely agricultural reasons like crop failure, or the complex pressures on an Indian farmer, must be tackled seriously on the basis of a comprehensive examination of the causative factors, and the context.
Farmers who feed us toil in the sun and rain all days of the year, but reap little benefits. They are least respected in society that eats their fruits. Lack of proper understanding of the need to grow crops sustainably will push farmers into a vicious circle – of debts, heavy use of fertilisers, water mismanagement, low productivity and thus more debts for the next cycle. Agriculture has always been a high risk business in our country and crop failure is very common because it very much depends upon nature. Agricultural credit and farm mechanisation for small and marginal farmers will continue to be difficult unless pooling of farm resources and/or a joint usage of farm technology is employed.
Today, banks are willing to lend money to a village consortium which can be utilised to boost farm productivity, employ sustainable farming methods, reduce over – dependence on fertilisers and thus solve many problems. What is needed is safe but remunerative farming. We need to think of organic farming and avoidance of large scale wastage of agricultural productions. Creation of good surface irrigation and maintenance of tank systems so as to improve underground storage and remunerative prices are the most important.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)