From protests in Maharashtra to farmers shot dead in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh there has been a discontent in the Indian farmers. Bastiyon Ka Paigam will interview 100 farmers from Maharashtra to explain the agrarian crisis from their lives and look beyond the stats and the figures.
June 24, 2017 | Sanket Jain
In the third issue, Bastiyon Ka Paigam interviewed five farmers from Bhudargad and Kagal tehsil of Kolhapur district from Maharashtra who work both as farmers and full-time labourers to make ends meet.
Sonabai Kerba Torse, late 60s and Kerba Laku Torse, 87, Village: Fanaswadi, Tehsil: Bhudargad
Sonabai Torse is devastated by the state of Indian farming which barely spares any profits for poor farmers. Sonabai farms on half acre land with her husband Kerba. They cultivate rice as the major crop. If it rains enough, they manage to get eight sacks of rice. Sonabai doesn’t sell any rice as she retains it for her family. Occasionally she cultivates sugarcane which fetches her bare minimum amount of money. On an average, it takes about four months for the rice to grow and the output completely depends on rain. “The concept of profit doesn’t exist for poor farmers like us. We get minimum food required to fill our stomach, that’s it. Society doesn’t give me any loan. In this politics, rich farmers will get all the loan waivers. Why should Government help them? Nobody even looks at poor farmers,” added Sonabai.
Kerba Laku Torse, 87, still works in the field to make his ends meet. He says, “If poor farmer stops producing food, what will the nation eat? I don’t have any health issues and been working as a proud farmer till date. Loan waiver will be done for rich farmers. However, I won’t stop farming because people will eat if I produce.”
Kerba proudly talks about him witnessing the freedom struggle. He passed VII grade in 1943 and says, “I have been farming for decades now, at least I should get a bare minimum pension. Nobody cares for the poor farmer and agriculture has become redundant now.”
Kamal Arjun Patil, 60 and Arjun Bapu Patil, 55, Village: Kurni, Tehsil: Kagal
60-year-old Kamal is tired of slogging in the fields. After working for more than 12 hours on 25 gunta land (0.62 acres), she works as a labourer to make her ends meet. If her crop succeeds, she retains it for the family. “Had I been literate, I would have been living a better life today,” says Kamal. Her husband, Arjun, owns the land who works both as a farmer and as a labourer in the fields. Kamal thinks that illiteracy is one of the obstacles for poor farmers to succeed. Farming for several decades now, Kamal, says, “My entire life has gone into farming which doesn’t even pay for my family’s basic survival.”
55-year-old Arjun Patil owns 25 gunta on which he took a loan of Rs 50,000 (two months back) from the local Navjeevan Society. If it rains well, he will manage to get 5 sacks of rice. He can’t sell this rice because it’s way too less. Arjun cultivates rice on 5 gunta and sugarcane on 10 gunta. Talking about the input cost for rice, he explains, “Seeds cost me Rs 400, fertilizers Rs 300 (one sack), harrowing, plowing and other activities cost around Rs 5000. This is the minimum amount of money I have to spend on rice with zero returns.”
He manages to get a yield of 5 tonnes sugarcane which fetches him Rs 13,500 over a period of 18 months. “Poor farmers barely earn money from agriculture. We have to work multiple jobs and as labourers to make ends meet,” added Arjun.
Sadashiv Maruti Kadam, 30, Village: Kurni, Tehsil: Kagal
Sadashiv Kadam owns 0.5-acre land and leases in other 28 gunta (0.69 acres) where he cultivates rice. Sadashiv gives 50 percent of the produce to the owner (lease charges). If it rains enough, he manages to get a yield of 15 sacks of rice, of which he gives 7 to the land-owner. “I can’t sell remaining 7 sacks because I retain it for my family. The minimum cost of production is Rs 8000. I produce this crop because I have to feed my family. However, this crop doesn’t pay,” says Sadashiv.
His father took a loan of around Rs 50,000 from local Hanuman society almost four years back and previous year Sadashiv repaid Rs 1,75,000 including the interest. “The society was behind me to repay the loan, and previous year somehow I managed to arrange the money for repayment,” said Sadashiv.
Like several other farmers from Kurni village, Sadashiv works as a labourer in addition to slogging in his 0.5-acre field and leased land. “There are many mouths to feed in the family and working as a labourer to make ends meet is the only option left.”
He gets Rs 150 daily for eight hours of work in the field.
Photos: Sanket Jain