Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Gloom & doom on farm front


Second consecutive drought owing to monsoon failure has brought gloom to our farmers and rural distress is on spread across the country.

While our worthy Parliamentarians slug it out on “unworthy” issues during the month-long winter session, the life in rural India continues to become worse with spread of monsoon misery.

The narrative on farm front continues to chronicle pain and suffering of our farmers while Delhites are worried about rather mundane issue of an odd and even numbers plan for movement of their cars beginning 2016.

Cotton and basmati growers in Punjab to sugarcane farmers in Western Uttar Pradesh, the story is that of utter gloom and pain with no state compensation or insurance companies coming to their aid. White fly attack and low prices has worsened farmers’ lives in Punjab. Non-payment of sugarcane arrears has pushed farmers in Western Uttar Pradesh to despair.

Same is the story of farmers in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Maharastra where they continue to be trampled by the vicious money lenders given monsoon failures.

Low commodity prices, virus attack and failure of monsoon has ensured regular reports of farmers suicides while the states and centre have become mute spectators to their desperate acts of ending lives.

When Indian Express detailed the suicides of five farmers in 30 days across the drought prone Nabarangpur in Odisha, the district’s officials and Naveen Pattanaik government in Bhubaneshwar claimed there were other reasons for these deaths. Officials even disputed the fact that they were farmers.

Fourteen farmers’ deaths in Madhya Pradesh had chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan sit up as many of them are from his home district of Vidisha as the soya crop failed due to monsoon failure and yellow virus hit the white lentils or urad crop.

Madhya Pradesh has declared 41 out of 50 districts drought hit and requested Rs 10,000 crore to tackle one of worst farm crises in the state.

This phenomenon of drought is not just limited to Madhya Pradesh. In fact, half of 600 districts across 18 states are in the grip of continued drought. If agriculture experts were to be believed, only four times in last 100 years that the country experienced back to back droughts. And, the year coming to an end is one of the worst.

All pervasive opinion is that the rural economy has come to a grinding halt, centre and states will have to think out of the box to tackle this crisis.

But does the moot question is does the political leadership at centre and states have this as the priority? Would they go beyond Delhi to look at life on farm lands is the moot question.

Agrarian economy needs immediate attention, issue specific to each state needs different solution to tide over the crisis.

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