In the series that I started about “What the Farmers Need” – the next requirement is one of the major aspects that have been overlooked by the government policies and many local bodies. However, there are many dedicated individuals, who have played a major role in providing farmers and farmers’ families with additional alternative employment opportunities.
Farming as we all know is seasonal where irrigation facilities are not available and in majority of regions of the nation farmers have been dependent totally on the rain God or monsoon... as we had discussed earlier about the lack of irrigation facilities in rural scenario. So Farmers are busy in farms only for couple of months, in some cases 4 to 5 months except where irrigation facilities are available, like Punjab and Haryana, farming is a yearly activity. Now, Indian farmers have been farming only for couple of months to remain idle with no work in maximum months... this lay off results in no extra income but expenses of farmers’ families remain constant. If there are equal seasonal alternative employment opportunities for the farmers, the farmers can earn enough money to save for the next season of farming, thereby saving them to get into the debt trap.
Regions where in alternative employment opportunities are available, farmers’ suicide have been recorded less or almost nil... however, farmers’ suicide is a very complex issue as many on ground would confess and there are number of factors that affect the community. Villages where in alternative employment opportunities are aplenty are leading prosperous lives as compared to the interior rural regions. Alternative employment opportunities provide family with extra income throughout the year and that sustain the farmers’ families to lead a better and self reliant lives. A village in Yavatmal named Naigoan (Bk) have not seen a single farmers’ suicide in its history... and farmers are very prosperous in the village for the simple fact that maximum villagers have found additional work in the nearby WCL... I have interacted with many farmers there, including a 75 year-old farmer, who worked as a bonded labour in Sarpanch’s house for three odd decades and later with his savings of life, proudly bought 2 acre land to continue farming even at this age.
Such dedication and devotion of such individuals are an inspiration for other farmers to emulate but such inspirational stories never make it to the main stream media... yes, when there are suicide, the issue is highlighted as farm crisis... if Vidarbha has seen maximum farmers’ suicide in the last two and a half decades’ period... there are multiple reasons for it... all the irrigation water has been diverted to major industries and Thermal Power Projects, so one wonders, how do the farmers manage to irrigate their fields... Rain God plays an important role... after all Indian farmers have been living their lives Bhagwan Bharose (on God’s mercy). Employment opportunities should be created in village itself, one that will connect the activities with profit-making initiative and urban centres benefitting from it. That way, the interdependency will create more job opportunities and also bring in more money to flow from the urban to rural belts. However, such things are a rare phenomenon and instead, everyone is looking to exploit the poor farmers and extracting the last penny from them... instead of teaching them saving, the villagers are taught to take more loans and spend on lavish things that is not the basic requirements for villagers.
I do hope more and more people should come forward to establish rural units that will bring in the required change to provide more employment opportunities to safeguard farmers’ community from leaving farming and migrating to cities... farmers should live in villages for their own benefits and for the benefit of the nation. Will the government adopt such provisions to better the lives of the community... well, my guess is as wild as yours...
I was a journalist-writer-poet-blogger based in Bombay. From 18th March 2010, I have devoted my life to support suicide farmers' families in Vidarbha to make them self-reliant and live a decent life.
As a journalist I have had the goodwill to contribute articles on various topics & subjects in more than 60 esteem National & International Publications.