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Shedding crocodile tears over farmers

Politicians are shedding crocodile tears over farmer’s lot. The farmers can be saved only if there is large scale industrialization and dependence on agriculture in traditional way is reduced. Agriculture will cease to be a viable mode of income to sustain family given the small land holding and vagaries of nature. Old methods of cultivation have not lost its relevance and can provide value for money to farmers. In the olden days farmers earned profit and never struggled for survival.

Even though the government has been announcing packages for farmers to face drought conditions but there is no perceptible difference. Farmers in the state have lost confidence in the system and have been committing suicides as they have been unable to repay their debts.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar had toured parts of Marathwada and took out a morcha to the divisional authorities to seek immediate attention of the state government to drought like conditions prevailing in the state. Even though people appreciated Pawar for bringing the drought issue to the forefront but he also received flak for failing to take steps to address this problem when he was the agriculture minister in the erstwhile UPA government.

Despite spending thousands of crores for providing irrigation facilities, the state government has not been in a position to create adequate irrigation facilities in the state. Maharashtra is already known for its farm crisis and reports the highest number of farmer’s suicides in the country.

The position of farmers is precarious. Bankers can camp in areas where the number of suicides are on the higher side. Loans can be waived on deserving cases and in case of need additional funding can be done to make them secured and clear of liabilities. Modern methods of cultivation just like the Japanese way of cultivation can be followed. In barren lands provision for water can be made by installing pump sets. Agriculture officers in Banks can take the lead role in this direction.

Unless areas of cultivation is pulled up and true concept of SHG is implemented no other method will work wonders.  Soil in water conservation with judicious use of chemicals, supplemented with animal husbandry and more emphasis to activities related to Horticulture may bring some positive result. Again, during the off season, the farmers will be compelled to do some useful work to sustain their earnings and not go jobless.

The drought in Maharashtra is a result of climatic and manmade reasons. Amongst manmade reasons, incomplete irrigation projects and overutilization of irrigation resources for water guzzling crops like sugarcane, are some major reasons. Sustainable agriculture and a change in cropping pattern are needed to ward of more severe droughts. The challenges call for a plan on utilising resources and putting to use Maharashtra’s huge irrigation infrastructure which lies incomplete.

C.K. Subramaniam

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