Statistical Study : Poor Farmers & Dirty Indian Politics

India farmer kills himself at Delhi AAP rally

cartoon_politics_india2This is the most debated news on Indian media now! Maybe for this week, till we get another sensational news. Political parties are taking their respective pickings to do politics. Blaming one another and trying to follow their traditional strategy to make people fools. None of the political parties ever tried to resolve the agricultural issues on a serious move. So many projects are been dragged for political and business reasons. Meanwhile, farmers are continuing to commit suicide across the country. When the media covered a single farmer’s suicide on daylight, the politicians are ‘ullu banaving’ making fool of us.

Delhi BJP demands AAP Govt to give compensation of Rs 5 crore to farmer’s family – What about thousands of farmers who died without making a political impact as the farmer who committed suicide in Delhi recently? Our politicians are exposing themselves by making such statements and irresponsible blaming on each other.

Why no Indian Political party is focusing on the solution to end this? They are fighting over how to acquire lands from farmers by various laws to favours industries. Why no one is talking about Indian Rivers Inter-link project?

The Indian Rivers Inter-link is a proposed large-scale civil engineering project that aims to link India‘s rivers by a network of reservoirs and canals and so reduce persistent floods in some parts and water shortages in other parts of India. Which can address the causes of farmer suicides and also enrich the Environment of the whole country!

The raw truth is, projects like inter-linking rivers would unite the people of India together. Maybe while executing the project some politics may happen but once the project gets completed the whole nation will get the benefits of it. People will come together ahead of their regional and states differences. Which will revamp agriculture, India will become more of a Green Nation than an industrial nation. This of course, will prevent Industrialists to an extent and prevent politicians’ tie up with Industries and they cannot make easy money. That’s why such effective projects are kept on hold or progressing at snail pace!

As of 2013, a total of 296,438 farmers had killed themselves in India since 1995.[4] Most farm suicides have been linked to debt, a sharp rise in input costs, serious water crises, price volatility and crop failure due to pest attacks and disease. India is an agrarian country with around 60% of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture. Farmer suicides account for 11.2% of all suicides in India.[1]

In Britain farmers are taking their own lives at a rate of one a week. ƒ In India, one farmer committed suicide every 32 minutes between 1997 and 2005. Read more from UN’s article here 

The following data is bit old, but shared here for analytical purpose.

Reasons for farm suicides.
(in 2002)[27]
Percent
(of suicides)
Habits like drinking, gambling, etc. 20.35
Failure of crops 16.81
Other reasons (e.g. chit fund) 15.04
Family problems with spouse, others 13.27
Chronic illness 9.73
Marriage of daughters 5.31
Political affiliation 4.42
Property disputes 2.65
Debt burden 2.65
Price crash 2.65
Borrowing too much (e.g. for house construction) 2.65
Losses in non-farm activities 1.77
Failure of bore well 0.88
Note: “Reasons were given by close relatives and friends. There are multiple reasons for suicides. Not even one case was given only one reason.”[27]

Indian Politicians must understand that people are no fools and we can read their minds so well! Instead of blaming one another, they must act upon solutions. Shame on them if they continue doing politics with Farmers and commoners of this country.


Courtesy and Sources : Source 1, Source 2, Source 3, Source 4

Kisan Divas : Farmers Day, India, Dec 23.

Our Sincere thanks to farmers all around the globe who are supporting everyone to live and make living possible on the earth! Propel Steps salutes all Agriculturists!

Naveen's p h o t o g r a p h y

India is a land of villages and most of the population residing in villages are farmers. Agriculture employs more than half of the Indian population. Though, there was a time when approximately 75% of the Indian population were living on agricultural income. But the emergence of the service sector and strong manufacturing industry has helped in attracting people from agriculture to these sectors. Yet, agriculture is the main occupation of the country. India had an interesting agricultural journey. The green revolution changed the agricultural landscape of the nation. Productivity increased and India became self-reliant in many agro-commodities. States like Punjab thrive on agricultural income. However, a lot needs to be done in improving the state of the farmers.

Chaudhary-Charan-SinghFarmers are the backbone of the nation. India celebrates Farmers Day in the memory of Chaudhary Charan Singh, the ex-Prime Minister. He was primarily a farmer and his personal life-style was extremely simple. He was a son of the soil and contributed a lot to improve the situation of the Indian farmers. His brief stay at the top witnessed a slew of agricultural reforms and policies being introduced in India. Charan Singh’s peasantry background helped him understand real problems of the farmer and he did his best to help them.

Chaudhary Charan Singh is credited to formulate and implement the famous Zamindari Abolition Act. His passionate appeal and magnetic persona united all the farmers against the moneylenders and landlords. He was also a very effective writer and penned his thoughts on farmers and their problems and solutions. Charan Singh passed away on 29 May 1987. Kisan Divas is recognition of his valuable services rendered to the farmers of India. Entire India celebrates Farmers day on Dec 23. Farmers and members of rural community organize agricultural shows, functions and pay homage to their beloved leaders. New policies concerning farming, agriculture, seeds etc are also announced by the governments.

TedEx Talks : Mr. Nammalvar at IIM, Trichy, India

If you do not know who is Dr. Nammalvar, you may jump into some other opinion about the noble human based on the way he looks. He is known for his simplicity and a renowned Organic Agriculturist.

More details as follows

NammalvarG. Nammalvar is an Indian Organic Farming scientist. Hailing from the Agro-based Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, India, he is involved in preaching the farmers to get edge in Organic Farming.

Dr. G Nammalvar born in 1938 in Elangadu, Tanjore District, and he graduated from Annamalai University with a B. Sc degree in Agriculture.

In 1963 he began working for the Agricultural Regional Research Station, a government organization in Kovilpatti, as a scientist, conducting trials on spacing and manure levels of various chemical fertilizers in cotton and millet crops. During his tenure there, the government was conducting experiments in rain fed land, using expensive inputs like hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides which Dr. G Nammalvar considered futile as the rain fed farmers were resource poor. Based on his experience he felt very strongly that it was imperative to totally reorient the research work undertaken but his peers at the institute paid little attention to his advice. Frustrated, he left the institute in 1969.

For the next 10 years he was an agronomist for Island of Peace, an organization founded by the Nobel Laureate R. P. Dominic Pyre. His focus was on improving the standard of living through agricultural development in the Kalakad block of Tirunelveli District, Tamilnadu. It was at this time that he realized that in order to get optimal results in farming, farmers should rely only minimally on external inputs. All inputs should come from within the farm. So called wastes should be recycled and used as input. This revelation was a turning point in his life. He completely lost trust in conventional farming practices and began experimenting with sustainable agricultural methods.

In the late 1970s, Dr. G Nammalvar became greatly influenced by Paulo Freire and Vinoba Bhave and their theories on education. The purpose of education should be freedom. Freedom is essentially self-reliance. Self-sufficiency means that one should not depend on others for one’s daily bread. Secondly, one should have developed the power to acquire knowledge for oneself. And last but not the least, a man should be able to rule himself, to control his thoughts and feelings.

Eager to propagate these new theories on education, specifically to aid farmers in becoming self-sufficient, he started a Society, Kudumbham in 1979. “Participatory Development” was the way forward. There can be no education without action. Nor can there be any action without education. Both go hand in hand. Dr. G Nammalvar interacted with local farmers, understood their needs, and based on their input, evolved farming practices suited to the local farmers.

In 1987, Dr. G Nammalvar had attended a 4-week training course conducted by the ETC Foundation, Netherlands, on ecological agriculture. In 1990, he founded a network LEISA (Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture) to promote the concepts of ecological farming, specifically the importance of self-reliability and low external inputs. During the same year, he started an ecological research centre for rain-fed cultivation in Pudukottai district.

Dr. G Nammalvar was also greatly influenced by Mr. Bernard de-Clerk of Auroville fame, whom he had worked with since 1984. In 1995 he was nominated as the Tamilnadu state coordinator for ARISE (Agricultural Renewal in India for Sustainable Environment). Concurrently, Bernard was the coordinator at the national level. During his tenure he travelled widely across India promoting the principles of sustainable agriculture.

When the Tsunami hit India on December 25th, 2004, Dr. G Nammalvar was actively involved in the rehabilitation process. In 2005, he helped farmers across various villages in Nagapattinam district to rehabilitate. In 2006, he left for Indonesia and assisted in reclaiming several farms there in Tsunami affected areas.

Recognizing his extensive work in the field of agriculture, the Gandhi Gram Rural University, Dindugal honored Dr. G Nammalvar with a Doctorate of Science degree in 2007.

Dr. G Nammalvar has travelled widely across the world, observed the agricultural practices in various different ecological systems and based on his findings, has trained farmers and NGO workers. He has written several books and articles in the Tamil language. He has a wide readership across different sections of society. His works will soon be translated to the English language, making his writings easily accessible.

Currently, Dr. G Nammalvar spends a substantial part of his time actively touring the south and conducting training classes on ecological farming. He is in the process of setting up several research cum training centers across South India. The first will be at Surumanpatti, Kadavur in Karur district. He is also actively involved in linking different farms and institutes around the world so as to accelerate the process of ecological development.

Courtesy : Dr.Nammalvar, IIM Trichy, TedEx and Youtube

Food We Eat : Potato (Part 1 of 2)

potato_walkingThe funny thing about potatoes is, since we all grew up with them, we think we know all about ‘em. In fact, there is a lot of misinformation about potatoes; sometimes people think of them as a fattening starch, when in reality, they’re a healthy, fresh vegetable. 

The potato (Solanum tuberosum) belongs to the solanaceae family of flowering plants. It originated and was first domesticated in the Andes mountains of South America.

Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop

The potato is the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption. More than a billion people worldwide eat potato, and global total crop Production exceeds 300 million metric tons.

There are more than 4,300 varieties of native potatoes, mostly found in the Andes. They come in many sizes and shapes

There are also over 180 wild potato species. Though they are too bitter to eat, their important biodiversity includes natural resistances to pests, diseases, and climatic conditions.

Potato is vegetatively propagated, meaning that a new plant can be grown from a potato or piece of potato, called a “seed”. The new plant can produce 5-20 new tubers, which will be genetic clones of the mother seed plant. Potato plants also produce flowers and berries that contain 100-400 botanical seeds. These can be planted to produce new tubers, which will be genetically different from the mother plant.

Potato Field : Courtesy : Wallpaper.net

Potato Field : Courtesy : Wallpaper.net

Potatoes can grow from sea level up to 4,700 meters above sea level; from southern Chile to Greenland. They are produced in over 100 countries worldwide.

One hectare of potato can yield two to four times the food quantity of grain crops. Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop and are up to seven times more efficient in using water than cereals.

Since the early 1960s, the growth in potato production area has rapidly overtaken all other food crops in developing countries. It is a fundamental element in the food security for millions of people across South America, Africa, and Asia, including Central Asia.

potato plant

Origins of the Potato

The potato, from the perennial Solanum tuberosum, is the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C.

In 1536 Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, discovered the flavors of the potato, and carried them to Europe.  Before the end of the sixteenth century, families of Basque sailors began to cultivate potatoes along the Biscay coast of northern Spain.  Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589 on the 40,000 acres of land near Cork. It took nearly four decades for the potato to spread to the rest of Europe.

Eventually, agriculturalists in Europe found potatoes easier to grow and cultivate than other staple crops, such as wheat and oats. Most importantly, it became known that potatoes contained most of the vitamins needed for sustenance, and they could be provided to nearly 10 people for each acre of land cultivated.

fresh potato

In the 1840s a major outbreak of potato blight, a plant disease, swept through Europe, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish working class lived largely on potatoes and when the blight reached Ireland, their main staple food disappeared. This famine left many poverty-stricken families with no choice but to struggle to survive or emigrate out of Ireland. Over the course of the famine, almost one million people died from starvation or disease. Another one million people left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.

Nutrition Facts

January-01-08-New-Potato-Label1Potatoes are an excellent, low fat source of carbohydrates, with one-fourth the calories of bread. Boiled, they have more protein than maize and nearly twice the calcium. An average serving of potatoes with the skin on provides about 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber.

When boiled, a single medium sized potato contains about half the daily adult requirement of vitamin C, as well as significant amounts of iron, potassium and zinc. Potato also contains substantial amounts of vitamin B and valuable supplies of essential trace elements such as manganese, chromium, selenium and molybdenum. The high vitamin C content enhances iron absorption.

Potatoes have toxic components known as glycoalkaloids in leaves, sprouts, and stems, which are meant to protect the plant against fungi and insects. They can be removed by peeling and cutting away the green areas.

More and more, studies are showing they are a perfect fit for a healthy diet, assuming you go easy on the butter and sour cream. So-called “low-carb diets” love to malign potatoes. In fact, research shows potatoes are a great tool in weight loss. They are low in calories and are full of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

Is naturally fat-free and sodium-free, Has only 110 calories, Contains 45% of the daily value for vitamin C, Is packed with as much or more potassium (620 mg) than either bananas, spinach, or broccoli, Provides 10 percent of the daily value of B6; and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and zinc.

Some other interesting facts about Potato

  • Potatoes were the first vegetable grown in space
  • Potatoes are the best-selling side dish in American restaurants
  • Potatoes have one of the first commodity groups to develop and use an FDA-approved nutrition label
  • Only 19% of Americans rate potatoes as being “great” for gluten-free. Seriously? Potatoes are TOTALLY gluten-free.
  • Less than 3% of Americans meet the FDA guidelines for potassium intake. Quick, eat a potato!
  • Research suggests that diets rich in potassium and low in sodium reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Helloooooo potato!
  • Research also indicates that diets high in potassium-rich fruits and vegetables may help maintain lean body mass and bone
  • In addition to vitamins and minerals, potatoes also have an assortment of phytochemicals with antioxidant potential, most notably carotenoids and anthocyanins
  • Potatoes have shown to help keep you feeling full, longer. Great!

coming up in part 2, Potato in global agriculture, Adulteration, best ways to eat potatoes, and many facts..

FOOD : You may read or ignore, your choice. But we Care for you

It’s a wake up call.

You may be eating Italian pasta or sipping Peruvian coffee or Hyderabadi Dum Biryani or much simple fruit salad. Whatever you may eat to live, everything had originated from the roots once deepened into the soils in search of life. That was organized and done as agriculture for our existence. Many of has a little awareness or concern about what happens in agriculture. This is a mild eye opener. Somewhere some farmer decides to quit agriculture when you are reading this now and move on to live in a small town or any urban habitat.

Naveen's p h o t o g r a p h y

Naveen’s p h o t o g r a p h y

This happening is well justified by many factors.

>> A small farmer’s children got a good job and earning well so he need not to do agriculture anymore. The economy of their family got developed.

>> Only rich landlords can afford the expenses of agriculture and small farmers are unable to tackle the increase in the prices of basic commodities of living and agriculture.

>> In many cases farming / agriculture is still wrongly viewed as an uneducated man’s job and for them the paid employment is a prestigious occupation and a valid reason to quit agriculture as the generation practicing ages.

>> Apart from all these reasons one of the major factors is the environmental issues and depletion of resources. This includes both human induced-natural and purely human created environmental problems. We can list water scarcity, soil depletion, global warming, pollution, etc. here.

The point here is not to discuss how to solve the problems faced by agriculture. The question is Will agriculture itself may survive for the next generation as an occupation or it will be remembered as “a human way if cultivating crops in the history books”?

The alarming rate of conversion of agricultural lands to real estates is a major threat. Like reserved forest areas no government has strictly regulated fate of agricultural lands. Because most of the agriculture has been done on Private lands belongs to the farmers, where big landlords retain their property they amassed while the small farmers are easy targets. The small farmers are large in number and hardly have any savings to count on, if nature or river water fails them once. More than two times if they fail to get return on investment they are forced to quit their occupation. The ultimate bail out comes to them is by selling off their little lands. Even if they manage to stay back there lies only a tough and painful recovery ahead. Whatever the crops they reap in one season, the rate they get on sales in not sufficient enough to bail them out of debts.

Even small farmers without any loans also just do their occupation as an act of survival.  The earnings would not suffice their emergency needs, children’s education, a normal lifestyle and a little saving for the future.

All these make it very difficult to  carry on an occupation like agriculture. Practically speaking, if you were from an agricultural or agriculture depended family backdrop, you can feel the intense on these words.

On news or in school or in many documentaries you might have seen agriculture is still the world’s largest occupation. More than the number of engineers or doctors or a software professional, farmers were more in number. But the rate is taking the reverse gear now. The lack of interest in agriculture is fuelled by the attraction towards urban lifestyle. Very few countries worries about their farm lands and are propelling their industrial growth and looking that as the way to improvise their economy.

Of course here and there campaigns, financial support for agriculture / farmers are happening. Even the Indian government has launched a call centre to support farmers over the phone. But if we look at the bigger picture and see it over all the shrinking of agriculture has to be the bitter truth. We cannot conceal it for our satisfaction and tap ourselves everything is fine.

We are putting our entire future generations on a risk of starvation by reducing the farm lands. Japan has no land so they do agriculture on ships, what is the reason for countries like India? We have vast land to put us in the seventh place.

There are connecting links between the food we eat in cities, the farmers working on soils, the shrinking agricultural lands, the government policies towards protecting agricultural lands, increasing suburban real estates, our imaginary glamour on urban life and Air conditioned occupation and our individual social responsibilities.

There is a single common line connecting all these facts. FOOD

We can’t survive by eating artificial and synthetic amino compounds like in sci-fi movies. If we do that stage we would have killed all other species on the earth. Food comes from agriculture. That’s our life line. Hope we can save agriculture.

Explore more possibilities, options, ideas, questions and logics on Complex Perspectives & Life

Words by Din

 Image Courtesy : Naveen Gowtham