Friday, March 4, 2011



I should have put this point before discussing the previous point (Organic Manure)... I missed one of the most important aspects that every farmer used to possess in the earlier days... Good Cattle. Cows, Bulls and Buffaloes used to be the proud possession of every farmer in earlier days, not any more though. As I had written earlier that in olden days, near about 90 to 95 per cent farmers of the nation used to have their own cattle, which provided them with milk, cow dung and help for ploughing the fields. However small or poor a farmer may be, they always had the least of two bulls and a cow to take care of all the field work and provide milk for the whole family to remain healthy. In the present days, if one will visit villages, one will realize that hardly 10 or even less percentage of farmers possess cattle.

Times have changed and so did the modern inventions and with times, tractors took place of the cattle, which required continuous care and attention. The arrival of modern inventions in agriculture surely has benefitted the bigger and rich farmers, who immediately shifted to mechanisation to get the field job done faster and with less labour. But the side effect cannot be ignored. The arrival of tractor made every farmer to get rid of their cattle and get used to the machine, this way, they either had to take loan to buy the tractors or else paid a particular rent to use the tractor of the rich farmers... so the poor farmers started filling the coffers of the rich without realizing that they were increasing their investment and reducing their margin of profits. On the other hand, it also made majority of farmers lazy as hard labour and love was needed to take care of cattle apart from trapping themselves into the debt circle.

The MNCs manufacturing tractors provided loans to sell their machines, thereby trapping the poor farmers in the vicious circle of debt. In the olden times, a farmer used to think a million times before taking a loan as little as Rs.1000 /- from the moneylenders by either putting their cattle or land as collateral. I have interacted with many farmers in various villages and those who possess good cattle, say, ‘Nowadays no one wants to tend the cattle because it requires a lot of labour and care from morning to evening, though it is very satisfying to have good cattle in-house. Milk, cow dung and field work, all in all, every farmer should have their own cattle because of its benefits. But tractors surely have spoilt majority of farmers from working hard in the last two to three decades. Farmers don’t realize what they have lost by not having cattle but times are changing and everyone is interested to reap more with less labour.’

The reality has been overlooked by many in the agriculture sector for the downfall of farmers’ output (profit margin) in the name of rapid growth and mechanisation. While the rich MNCs were earning profits and filling their coffers, poor farmers were being trapped in debt circle to increase their miseries multi-folds. A tractor will only plough the field but good cattle provides milk for the family, cow dung that are used as manures as well as to cook food by making cow dung cakes (upale) while ploughing the fields and pull the bullock cart (a trademark of every farmer in earlier days); and decreasing the initial investment. Good cattle also increase the financial aspect of a farmer whenever the cow gives birth to a calf. All these factors have been long forgotten by Indian farmers, who are blinded today with modern lives. Rapid development in the right direction should help the farmers and not push them towards the situation where in they commit suicide. The simple solution has been overlooked by many who are working in this field to help the farmers have increased the miseries of the community.

It is indeed interesting to see what the farmers have lost (once their strengths) in the name of rapid development that has increased their woes. The point is who do we blame – The policy makers, the rich MNCs or else the farmers? I would still recommend every farmer to have good cattle to sustain a balancing life with nature to get the maximum benefits!

... to be continued...

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