Kerla paddy farmers commit suicide!
Man-made suicides,thanks to CPI(M) ideology!
Introduce private sector into paddy harvesting operations!
CPI(M) wing farm labour union prevented paddy harvesting machines deployed for harvesting standing paddy crop in the kuttanad region of Alapuzha region.
The region is the hub of paddy farming in the state and this season,the state witnessed some bizarre scenes and unprecented events.The mjaor tragic events are the farmers suicides,by marginal and small farmers who had raised paddy in this rich paddy belt and yet they couldnt harvest the crop because the CPI(M)-affiliated farm labour union wo0nt allow the farmers to employ the farm harvester machines.Neither the farm labour was available in time to harvest the crop manually,the wages were high and the supply of labour was also in short supply.The result?The standing crops in about 10,000 hectares got caught in unseasonal rains and the result was great loss of crops,valuable paddy and also great financial loss to the small farmers.One big news that went unnoticed and as typical of the Indian press the left fron governments in Kerala(as well as in W.Bengal)go soft and leave such great human tragedies unreported and the Indian people kept in the dark.
500 farmers died since 2001.Paddy cultivation in Kerala is always a losing proposition.This is known to all,from the days of the EMS government which was the vilain of the piece in enacting the mosr drastic land reforms acts that saw overnight thousands of farm oweners paupers!
This Febraury and and early Mrch saw unseasonal rains in Kuttanad and the gloom sprwad among the marginal farmers.One Gopi,60,committed suicide because he saw his crops couldnt be harvest and he took a loan of Rs.20,000 which he couldnt repay.The repeat of the Vidarbha syndronme?Not quite like but similar. If small farmers take loans and if they couldnt repay in time,the local sense of shame and honour come in their way and they take the easy step to end their lives.
Unfortunately,the Leftists,be in Kerala or in Bengal,who claim to know the unique way to economic and social progress know neither their economics nor their sociology!
The irony is that those who committed suicides in the Kerala paddy belt,some of them,in this case ,Gopi himself is a local party member and in fact had been the CPI(M) branhc secretary until 199.He unfortunately couldnt simply convince his comrades to provide him the labour or the machine.The CPI(M) again typically and cynically tried to exploit the tragedy,first it denied the suicide theory,second it was confront by the state agriculture department when it confirmed it was suicide!Last month five similar suicides were reported in the region.This besides another 14 farmers died in the rains.Relations between farmers,that is owners of small plots of land,either owned or taken on sub-lease and sub-lease culture is now a ground elevel reality,though the CPI(M)wallahs wont recognise this ground reality.Relations is always uncomfortable,the labour need the farms and farm owners.Yet,the so-called militant and in reality the most cynical bourgeois politics of the feudal minded CPI(M) leadership had perpetuated the poison of class conflict between owners and labour!This is a new phenomenon,in the olden days,it was landowner vs tenant.Now,the tenants are the new landowners,the new tenants are the labour.
Farm labour in Kerala is again very unstable and unsustainable.Today,the paddy harvesters cost Rs.1,500 per hour as rent while the wage for similar work by ten hands cost Rs.2,500!So,the farm labour is asking for what is an unreasonable wage and the recent paddy season showed that while there was a demoand for nearly 200 harvesters,there only 40 machines available.
Now,the very farm labour have become members of farmers co-operatives and sub-lease land and become paddy cultivators.Yet,the situation is so politicised that when it comes to harvesting paddy at the right time,the party politics comes in and spolis the atmosphere.
The private sector,namely,the NGOs and others didnt sit quiet either.
Braving the CPI()hostility,Fr.Thomas Peelianikkal,the executive director of the Kuttanad Development Committeee,an NGO,was ready to get into the filed with his volunteers to harvest paddy and save the crops.When the Fr,asked the local CPI(M) labour union to allow the paddy harvester from neighbouring TN,the communist commisars asked them to wait.In the event Peelianikkal led a group of volunteers including fellow priests,to harvest whatever was lft to be saved from spoliage.
Ina similar and yet a brave act,the Kerala Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor K.K.Vishvambharan also took a busload of students from his university into the paddy fields.Both as an act of defiance against the foolishness of the state government as well as a professional step in farm extension service to demonstrate,for the students as well as to the public,how to harvest paddy!
This was a fantastic move and we have to congratulate the Vice Chancellor to his own fellow VCs in other universities in other states where also the situation for the agriculture scenario is not very positive.
There are government bunglings in many areas of agriculture.Banks fail farmers.Why the very state governments’agri depts are failing farmers.Seed companies fail the innocent farmers and also there are large scale corruption in many areas.
The time has come for the state agri universities and other professional bodies to take upo the emerging challenges in agriculture to innovate and transform the challenges into new opportunities.
Agriculture must be restored to its own glory of being a socially high priority business and social status.Farmers must be given the unique recognition that is now denied.
Farmers,anyone who owns a piece of agricultural land is not honoured byut denied every state concessions!
Anyway,Kerala is now a highly food deficit state.Its paddy acreage had steadily declined,from 8 lakhs hectares to 2.64 lakh hectares.The state needs annually 40 lakh tonnes of rice,it now produces only 6.41 lakh tonnes rice.
Unless paddy cultivation is made viable and paddy,being the backbone of any food security strategy,is given a sound economic basis,we would see our comrades perched comfortably in New Delhi would only be walking the Delhi streets with some flags waving now and then!
As for paddy cultivation or land acquisition for industries,be it Kera or W.Bengal,the two states would only be losing out new investments.W.Bengal,a report says had already lost out to Orissa for IT giants,Infosys,Wipro and Satyam.In Kerala too the scene is not all that positive!
Either way,the talented and educated Kerala and Bengal youth would lose out!