Problems faced by Indian farmers

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How often have you heard a shopkeeper saying, "You've to survive this weekend on packaged food only as our stores have run out of grains."?
I don't think that we have any such tales to remember, all thanks to our fellow farmers who work hard, day in and day out to fill 1.3 billion empty stomachs in India, plus some more around the world. Besides this, our farmers account for 18% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). 
India has been a majorly agriculture based country for ages and still, 50% of the workforce is employed in the agricultural sector. Post-independence remarkable changes have been witnessed in the agricultural sector after the introduction of various revolutions like the green and white revolution to accelerate production. Indian's living in villages account for 68.84% of the population, the majority of who earn by working in fields. 
Power surges:

When was the last time you had a power cut in your home? Maybe it was recent or maybe it's been long, depending upon the city you live in. But, how often do you have a power cut? If you reside in a metro city, then maybe quarterly or annually.  At this very moment, a person somewhere in a remote village is waiting for the power to be back on so that he can switch on the water supply to irrigate his share of land. Surprisingly, problems like frequent power cuts still persist in many small towns and villages. Being in A developmental phase, India is a power hungry nation and often the supply can't compete with the ever-rising demand. To make the ends meet government has to often cut the power supply and thus the villagers are the one used as a bridge. 
In June 2018, I, along with my father visited our ancestor's home which is around 30-40 km's from Pilani, Rajasthan (Remember, BITS?).  Since that home was vacated a few decades ago, there is no electrical connection there. We tried to get a connection in the past, but the officials denied saying, "We don't give a new connection to just a single home, you need to have at least five neighbours to apply for the same". After the transition in the ruling party, this rule was abolished and soon anyone could apply for a new connection. We filled out the necessary files and submitted it to the office, where our record was pushed in a huge stack. Till date (April 2019), we haven't got a new connection there and officials cite different reasons every time we ask them. Surprisingly, these conditions still persist in India and our farmers suffer the most. The World Bank reports that there are 200 million people in India who lack access to electricity. 

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Fragmented land holdings:

Even after seven decades of post-Independence, the average size of an Indian family is 4.67 members, which is a huge threat. Resources from the past generations are passed to the future generation in a typical Indian family, and they are divided equally among the offsprings. Land accounts for a major portion of the resources and it keeps on getting divided as the generations add up.  This results in a lower area of land owned per person. Agricultural census of 2015-16 report, "The small and marginal holdings taken together (0.00-2.00 ha) constituted 86.21% in 2015-16 against 84.97% in 2010-11 while their share in the operated area stood 47.34% in the current census as against 44.31% in 2010-11." In recent years, census reports also exhibited that there has been a decline in the number of farmers and an inclination in the number of labourers.  Ashok Gulati, an agriculture chair professor at the New Delhi says, “The rise in the number of small and marginal farmers signifies that the rest of the economy is unable to absorb the surplus... India has to live with its small-sized farms for the next two decades and the way out is to provide them access to the best technology and markets, the way China did it". 

With an ever-increasing population, the demands of resources keep on growing as well, be it food, cloth, shelter, or water. In the short term, this population adds up to the economy of our country but the long term outcomes can't be neglected. The per capita availability of water is reducing at a frightening rate and in the time period of 60 years (1951-2011), it has dropped by 70%. Around 70% of agricultural land is irrigated on the groundwater, which is depleting at a notably higher rate which just adds up to more of our farmer's problems. Conventionally sprinkler and surface irrigation are the methods used by the farmers in India, even after the introduction of drip irrigation systems which saves up a lot of water. The reason why farmers are still sticking to the sprinkler or surface irrigation systems is that a typical sprinkler system costs around Rs. 15000/- per acre, whereas drip irrigation will cost about Rs. 60,000-75000 per acre. Clearly, a common farmer cannot manage to finance such a hefty amount and they end up using traditional methods. To overcome this, the government should raise awareness among the farmers for new irrigation techniques and they should provide these at a subsidized rate so that it can be practically implemented. 

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Escalated prices of high-quality seeds, manures, and fertilizers:

We have been cultivating the same piece of land continuously over the span of 1000 years without thinking much about the replenishment of nutrients in the soil, which has led to poor production of crops since the last few decades. To face up this issue, the government introduced various movements like the Green revolution to skyrocket the production of crops. Under these revolutions, High Yielding Variety Seeds (HYV Seeds) were introduced in the market, along with manures and fertilizers. Though an escalation was seen in the production, it was far lesser than expected as every farmer can't afford to buy them. 

Increasing depression:

Even in the 21'st century a fraction of farmers don’t have proper irrigation systems, and their fate solely depends on the monsoon. Monsoon in India accounts for 75% of the annual rainfall and is most awaited by the Indian farmers as the production of Kharif crops is completely dependent (in most areas of the country) on it. Heavy rain ensures a good production which further boosts the economy, whereas scarce rainfall inflates the prices of various grains and pulses. Due to climate change in recent years, average rainfall in India has been dwindling year by year resulting in low production of crops, which further adds to the debts of the farmers leaving them depressed. Due to this, in the year 2001-2011, National Crime Records Bureau, Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India reports that 15000 farmers commit suicide every year. 
Various loan waving schemes have been discussed out of which a fraction has been implemented as well. Yet, various farmers make their way to the headlines by committing suicide. These rates can only be reduced if the government invests more in the agricultural sector to improve the lives of our farmers.   

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Involvement of Youth:

What do you want to pursue as a career? Many will say they want to become a doctor, an engineer, a scientist, a musician and what not. But, how often do you hear that I want to do agriculture? I want to become a farmer? Rarely, right? More and more farmers are switching their profession for the sake of a fixed income and because life as a farmer is industrious and requires a lot of effort. Some of the causes underlying this have been discussed above, and the others include lack of machinery, no fixed income, dependency on climate, slow development in the field of agriculture. Most of the farmers still use ancient tools like a sickle to carry out operations like harvesting, sowing and weeding. Automation has not hit the agricultural sector yet because of the high prices of the machinery which a common farmer cannot afford. Further, I don't think there is any farmer who wants his child to be in his shoes because he knows the hardships one has to go through to afford the basic necessities in life.
Our youth should be aware of these problems and the results which follow so that they can make the ends meet for a farmer. People will only switch to agriculture if and only if it is shown as a promising career and it can be achieved by implementing new ideas to solve the problems which our fellow farmers face.

- Sachin Kumar

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Problems faced by Indian farmers Problems faced by Indian farmers Reviewed by EMN on April 08, 2019 Rating: 5

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