Farmers seem to live in blissful ignorace! The government condemns farmers to exist in ignorance and isolation.
Agriculture : who cares? Agriculture is never headline news! Why? It doesn’t excite the educated persons, mostly they live in cities.
We don’t seem to get any positive information about what the many development agencies are doing for farmers. Nabard is supposed to articulate the development funding of agriculture. This, in our experience, is not doing. It is doing several other things. Instead, Nabard is advising other banks and agencies not to lend for certain crops like the medicinal crop safed musli cultivation. We are engaged in promoting this crop. There is a hue demand, there is a huge shortfall in supplies. When farmers want to cultivate and make money, why Nabard has to prevent it? Is this crop a banned crop?
The State level Medicinal crops Promotion Boards don’t share with us their policies, their information on their policies! Why? Why the ICAR, the highest agri research policy making body doesn’t have a mechanism to share with media, more so the agri media with their latest development news.
Agri universities are tame institutions with no freedoms to interact with media.
We have the Right to Information Act. Will this apply to the farmers rights to ask for information from these development institutions?
Just now, we read that in the USA there is this obsession with keeping the official secrecy. American government, driven by many fears, it seems now classifies documents as secret 125 a minute! Even the US Department of Agriculture comes under this secrecy class!
Is the Indian government’s many agriculture -related development agencies function under any secret code of denying farmers latest informations? Thus, our many farmer development activities, that are eligible for promised subsidies under the medicinal crops, were denied the subsidies. In India, no promised agri subsidies are given to farmers! In time. So, we see the continued suicides of farmers, the insurance amount not paid, the promised official visits take place, no compensation is generously paid. Instead the compensations withheld under so many escape clauses!
This is no surprise considering the average Indians farmers don’t rely upon any latest information, no information at all except their neighbours. A latest round of the National Sample Survey.
All big names, experts, visionaries and concerned persons seem to talk from ivory towers!
The President of India and Dr.M.S.Swaminathan want to make every village a knowledge centre by 2007! How great, we wonder! Yes, we also have realists, of all people, bankers to admit that after sixty years of freedom. We now hear Mr.M.B.N.Rao, the CMD of Canara Bank “64 per cent of the households in the country do not have access to banks”!
Yet the destiny of India is now presided over by a veteran bank and finance expert Dr.Singh!
Nabard says that aggregate refinance for term investments in farm and non-farm sectors stand at Rs.5,342 crores as on March 31 this year! That is all?
Bankers nearly kill all farm projects, if not farmers! Bankers talk a language that is thoroughly disgusting, bureaucratic, insensitive and bankers delays miss all seasons and all crop cycles!
The ICAR scientists and Krishi bhavan bureaucrats don’t talk! They don’t interfere in the many roadblocks, be it credit flows or seed supplies or most importantly the marketing hassles. Bankers ask us questions in sheer ignorance. What bankers first don’t know or for that matter the many bureaucrats and the idle scientists are the emerging markets, the many new market opportunities. For many new crops and many new agro ventures. We tell these many ignoramuses: please visit our website (agricultureinformation.com) or talk directly to the market enquiries! Yet, they, in their sheer ignorance, display their audacity to question the credit-seekers, the facilitators sitting in air-conditioned comforts and a secure monthly salary!
No wonder the grain production target this year is slipping. Even now when the government plans import of grains (after edible oil, pulses and other US-centric farm products) the grain import and production policies don’t put the actual farmers’ opinion in the big picture. Again, this is a secretive, politician-bureaucratic top secret?
There seems to be a conspiracy of sorts. Or, how else can we explain the state of ignorance that prevails in the countryside.
As we type these pages we have before us the newspaper cuttings on Vidarbha farmers’ families with their suicide-committed earning members faded photos, the faces that prop up before our very eyes, the forlorn-looking wives, their daughters, their school-going children’s faces look at us, as if asking us : why don’t you convey our agonies to the outside world!
Yes, tears roll down one’s cheeks, eyes become moist, hearts become heavy, our helplessness drive us to think of extreme solutions! Yes, who can understand the agony of the rural India? We can fully visualise the plight of the isolated villages where the one possible way out is to think of extreme steps. The rise of Naxalism in the many States is only another face of this sheer helplessness within the framework of our Constitution to seek redress.
For wisdom, farmers turn to other farmers only!
Where does the average Indian farmer turn to when he needs some modern farming gyan? Is it the television? the radio? the village fair?
None of the above, actually. The latest round of the National Sample Survey has come up with a disturbing finding :nearly 60 per cent of farmer households in the country had over the past year not accessed any source of information on modern agriculture methods.
Still, the most popular source of information for farmers on farming methods happens to be other farmers. Nearly 17 per cent of the farmer households had picked “other progressive farmers” from the options given to them.
But the bottom line was that overall, only 40.4 per cent of farmer households had made use of any source of information at all — including those classified as “others.” The remaining, big majority had not accessed any during the 365 days before the survey. Village fairs (source for two per cent), government demonstration (2.0), private agencies or NGOs (0.2), government extension workers (5.7), krishi vigyan kendras (0.7), primary cooperative societies (3.6) and credit agencies (1.8) simply didn’t reach the bulk of farmers.