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Rae Bareli: Farmer’s Debt and Hope

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The number of marginal farmers is very high in the Baiswara region. Baiswara consists of districts like Rae Bareli, Unnao and Fatehpur. Marginal farmers are those who have lesser land than 2.5 acres or 1 hectare. The pattern of farming varies from families to families. Some of them live in villages to work as full-time farmers. Others either give their lands on lease or hire someone for harvesting the crop.  People who are into agriculture and farming that one cannot be a farmer just by asking others to work for him, it does not help them.  Which means if one has to keep registering his/her presence in the village to understand the patterns of agriculture. that is the reason that people who give their lands on lease or hire labors to do the work for them continuously commute to their villages.

if we talk about resources and raw material such as how to have access to fertilizers, seeds, labor and water for irrigation, it can only be done by planning and it has its own dynamics. since monsoon patterns are changed, and there is no surety to have sufficient rain when it is required, the dependency on canals and tube-wells increases. Canal-network is not there in all the places, neither every farmer has the financial capacity to have a tube-well boring of him/her own. Hence, he/she opts for using others’ tube-well for which he pays on per hour basis.

During the sowing of the crops the pressure increases, and if the power supply is not well managed/ load-shedding, then the challenge is even bigger as the farmers have to wait for many days. in addition to that, rain, bad quality seeds, and groups of nilgai affect the crops. due to which, there is lesser crop than expected and farmers lose their principal amount they invested in agriculture. this vicious circle is man-made and the ways to come out of it totally in the hands of people.

the cost of boring a tube-well is between INR 60-80,000; and the process is also very complicated. secondly, farmers usually borrow money during the cropping season (and at times for their household activities). If there are cases of illness then the loan amount can go really high. the repayment of such loans depends on the crop. if the crop produced in not good then farmers borrow more in order to repay the previous loan (and take care of the rest of the facilities). the vicious circle of money-lenders starts from here only and many have lost their lands and resources due to this. we do not hear about farmersæ suicide in Rae Bareli and neighbouring districts, but if the situation remains the same we will start hearing about it as well.

Another noticeable fact is that money which was allocated last year for flood relief has not reached to many places. there were rumours at times about it but the money was not transferred. it is really sad and horrible act to always think of farmers capable of endless wait. this affects their lifestyle in such a way that not only their future is affected by their present is also damaged.

the present government has decided to waive off loans farmers’ loan for up to INR 1 lakh. the promise of power supply for 18 hours a day in rural areas will be a reality or not we are yet to witness. both centre and state governments have a lot to do for farmers. the government needs to provide concession and subsidies to farmers, and they need to ensure that there is continous power supply during the time of irrigation. schemes related to roads, healthcare and housing should be implemented on ground. soil and water testing should be done free of cost and regularly. solar pumps, drop irrigation and sprinklers have to be promoted. loan waivers can be short-term solution but a long-term strategy is needed. a few grassroot organizations are working on ground to make improve the situation of the farmers, but government and the society has to create an environment which helps the farmers to find a safety-net. In the end, we need to accept that promises made to farmers’ should be kept, because they are the ones who can see through, almost everything.

(Ashish Singh is a Senior Researcher at Institute of Governance, Policies and Politics, New Delhi, National Secretary of Azad Shakti Seva Sangthan Rae Bareli, and member of Advisory Board of Youth in Social Action Society and Suryavansham Sewa Sansthan. He can be contacted at- ashish.tiss@gmail.com)
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