Haridwar Yadav, from Mishrauli Village in the sub-district headquarters of Belthara Road, eastern Uttar Pradesh, is 43 years old. He looks closer to 50 though, a lifetime of farming having taken its toll on his frame and visage. Political pronouncements apart, Yadav is pessimistic about his lot in life. Here’s what he told Lokmarg.
I have been a farmer throughout my life but I’ve never seen a farmer become rich. Governments may come and governments may go but the situation of farmers has remained the same; our problems remain unresolved. Surprisingly, every political party has a farmer agenda but when it comes to delivering there is no plan or funds for them.
India is an agrarian economy but there is no focus on the farmers and how to improve quality of farming in the country. So many years have passed and the country has made so much technological advancements but farmers are still unable to get high-quality seeds.
When we go to government authorised seed shops in our block, all we can get is basic quality seeds of rice, wheat or any seasonal vegetables, which means there are not many options for farmers here. Moreover, the quality of seeds available at the government store is below average. High-quality seeds are available too, but only at private shops but they cannot be trusted and they sell it at a premium of Rs 100-120 per kilo.
Also, the cost of farming here (Ballia district) is very high due to poor electricity supply. On an average we get eight hours of power supply every day and the entire machinery for sowing, irrigation, and harvesting runs on diesel which is getting expensive day by day. With such poor electricity supply, we bank on generators which again turn out to be very expensive to maintain. Even to get water to our field we have to use generators which consumes several litres of fuel.
The only thing which has improved in the last few years is the loan facility. Farmers do not have to wait for funds now as several financial institutions are available which now provides them with loans but again only the burden of loan is increasing on the farmer as we could hardly get right prices for our crops.
There is no government machinery to monitor and assist farmers at the grassroot level. What we grow, we have to sell on our own in the open market as going by the government network is quite a tedious process. It takes at least five-six days to be served at the government office.
Moreover we have to take our product in a rented vehicle and have to wait for an unestimated time to get our number so we can sell our crop directly to the government. The process is not only lengthy but expensive. Recently crops at government center at Sikandarpur got wasted due to poor storage facility. Even in our area, there is no private cold storage to keep our produce so we immediately try to find a buyer and sell at whatever price we get.
Farming is all that we know, this is what we can do, and all we have is this land. Nothing much has been done for lakhs of Indian farmers. What is left to be seen is whether there will be any acche din (Good Days, an allusion to the BJP slogan of the 2014 campaign) for us.
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—With editorial assistance from Lokmarg