I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Vijay Jawandia, a prominent leader of Maharashtra Shetkari Sanghatan way back in 2014 to discuss about the issue of Farmer suicides in Marathwada region. The infamous suicide rates had increased to a much higher level during 2014 and we couldn’t find a better person than Mr. Vijay Jawandia to guide us with his vast experience of handling the same issue in Vidharbha region of Maharashtra. Meanwhile during the discussion, apart from farmer suicides Mr. Jawandia also raised a very important issue which could turn out to be a major agrarian crisis, he stressed upon urgent need to study reasons for farmers moving away from agriculture, in other words he meant to say that India is slowly heading towards becoming a country with gradually decreasing number of farmers. On one side we have a grave problem of farmers committing suicides and on the other side we equally have another serious problem of farmers abandoning agriculture. Days are not far away that could give rise to a situation where there will be no farmers to cultivate the land and raise crops to feed the mankind.
Since then I have left no stone unturned to understand the perception of farming from farmers itself. It is very common in our rural culture to hear a father advising his son to not indulge in farming and better do any other work in nearby semi urban areas or encourage to migrate to urban areas. On a similar line no bride would be interested to tie a knot with a groom who is engaged in farming. Due to some of my limited study, I have come across reports which emphasize on facts that have given an opinion that 76% of population does not want to continue farming after all it is repeatedly opinioned and proclaimed that agriculture is not at all a profitable venture and anyone who does farming have to dig his own grave, these limitations have made farming specifically focused on people who are uneducated, who reside in rural area and have no other option than cultivating the land, such is the pathetic condition of social life of farmers in today’s world, in addition to this consecutive failure of monsoon, unfavorable marketing conditions have all added some more fuel to the existing fire.
An occupation once considered to be idealistic, dignified, and most importantly greathearted now has literally no takers at all. Older generation are doing it just for the sake of doing it and the younger generation have many other opportunities to earn bread and butter than toiling in hot and adverse climatic condition.
In the recent time it has become evident that there are many reasons to give up farming but not a single reason of continue farming and unlike in other fields where younger generation are making their own mark, agriculture seems to be completely kept away from trying their hand. No doubt the slogan Youth in Agriculture has made it possible to attract youth in outsourcing activity for agriculture which has helped in providing considerable amount of technical support and processing of agro produce. Further Youth in Agriculture has to be taken ahead as Youth in Farming. The need for next generation of farmers is of utmost importance in coming days.
Youth in farming will hopefully bring biggest strength to existing vulnerable situations in agriculture. It will also help in rectifying negative effects of technological advancements which was resultant of green revolution in the past. Youth who were equipped with necessary vocational training skills will be in a position to make best use of traditional and indigenous knowledge in order to create new environment for sustainable development of agriculture and adapting sustainable life styles.With the help of certain effective ways of farming methods like Zero Budget natural farming and organic farming practices, youth can bring in a best model by becoming debt free. Over the period of time, I have come across and met several enthusiastic youths who have quit their respective jobs and returned to do farming and have set an example for coming generations to take up the same opportunity if provided. The success stories of such farmers needs to be widely circulated and prominent efforts are to be made in order to remove the preconceived notion among many that agriculture is no more a profitable venture.
Having been directly involved in farming from past six months, I would consider following the footsteps of our ancestors who have perceived agriculture as a way of life without abandoning it. Black clayey soils have taught several lessons in understanding the difference between bookish knowledge and practical application of several techniques. Integrated pest management, soil and water management practices are some of the areas where in I am currently focusing in setting up an example for fellow farmers. In a nut shell the idea of shaping the future of next generation farmers with all the necessary skills is no doubt a slow process. It is high time we utilize our human resource and efforts properly and make our nation a better place for farmers to live in.
–Comments are welcome.