From protests in Maharashtra to farmers shot dead in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh there has been a discontent in the Indian farmers. Bastiyon Ka Paigam is interviewing 100 farmers from Maharashtra to explain the agrarian crisis from their lives and look beyond the stats and the figures.
July 12, 2017 | Sanket Jain
In the fourth issue, Bastiyon Ka Paigam interviewed four farmers from Hatkanangle and Kagal tehsil of Kolhapur district, Maharashtra. These farmers say that agriculture for them has become a burden now as it doesn’t even pay for the input cost. They talk about their tragic stories which eventually made them a part of the vicious cycle of agrarian crisis.
Sangita Borgave, 36, Village: Pattan Kodoli, Tehsil: Hatkanangle
Sangita is tired of slogging in the fields. Working as a farmer from the age of 12, Sangita always had a dream of completing her education. However, she could only manage to clear grade II and then had to quit education forever. “My mom used to work in the fields when I was young and our economic condition prohibited me from attaining further education,” explains Sangita. Her husband, Kallapa, owns 30 gunta land (0.75 acres) where they cultivate sugarcane. In case of adequate rainfall, Sangita gets an output of 10 tonnes. “The cost of irrigation is Rs 10,000. Add to that the cost of fertilizers which is Rs 10,000 and then there are other costs involved for sowing, leveling the land and much more. So, my maximum profit turns out to be Rs 5000 in a period of 18 months (sugarcane cycle).”In order to make ends meet, Sangita works as a labourer in fields where she gets Rs 80 for five hours work. “I haven’t taken any loan for agriculture because I won’t get any loan on this small amount of land and I know I won’t be able to repay it anyway,” says Sangita. Few months back, Sangita’s husband met with an accident. While he was working in a nearby factory, his leg was almost cut off by a cutter. The factory owner immediately took him to a hospital in Kolhapur where he was operated. The total cost Sangita had to incur was Rs 1,25,000 of which she had to take a loan of Rs 30,000 from a local money lender. “My husband wasn’t operated properly and in a few months he will have to get operated again. I belong to the Nomadic Tribe (NT) category, however, the hospital officials denied us any compensation under national schemes citing that the documents had to be submitted before operation,” says morose Sangita.
Omkar Borgave, 20, Village: Pattan Kodoli, Tehsil: Hatkanangle
20 year old Omkar has been working in the fields for three years now. After completing his X grade, he decided to quit education and started working in a perfume manufacturing factory. For 12 hours daily work, he was paid Rs 7000 a month. He worked there for two years and then quit because the pay was less compared to the amount of work which was always followed by extra unpaid working hours. “I want to learn, but I can’t because of the poor economic conditions. I want my younger brother to study and so I decided to work in a nearby factory,” said Omkar. He works both as a farmer and a worker in the industry. Currently, Omkar is looking for a job in a nearby industry. Omkar’s mother Sangita says, “I always force him to resume education because there’s no point living like a farmer now. I want my children to pursue good education and for that I am ready to work throughout my life, but this farming has to stop somewhere.” Upon being asked about her dream, Sangita says, “Had I learnt anything I could have become a better person today, but what can I say now?”
Sindhu Ramchandra Khatkar, 60, Village: Bhadgaon, Tehsil: Kagal
A farmer for more than 40 years now, Sindhu says, “Be it profit or loss I’ve to stay in farming.” Sindhu’s son owns 2.5 acres land and primarily from leveling the field to cutting the crops, she looks after farming. Sindhu cultivates Sugarcane in 1.5 acres and if it rains according to the need of the crop, she expects an output of 50 tonnes. “Somehow we manage to survive, but I am stuck in farming. I am illiterate and from the age of 18, the only thing I have done is farming,” says Sindhu.
Sunil Khatkar, 42, Village: Bhadgaon, Tehsil: Kagal
Sunil (Sindhu Khatkar’s son) took a loan of Rs 1,20,000 from The Vikas Sahakari Society at three percent rate of interest. He cultivates Soyabean in 1 acre land and manages to get an output of 5 quintals. “I’ve to retain maximum share of the crop for family and the remaining crop is then sold at the rate of Rs 2000 per quintal,” says Sunil. Previous year, it didn’t rain enough and he had to face a tremendous amount of loss with Soyabean. Sunil is an electrical engineer and has been farming for more than 10 years now. He explains, “I worked for a few years, but then the job didn’t pay much. Agriculture requires a lot of manpower and then I decided to join family agriculture. However, even agriculture doesn’t pay much. The situation is bad, but somehow we’ve to survive and that’s how we are continuing with agriculture.” Sunil’s wife also helps Sindhu in farming and a major chunk of the work is done by female farmers.
Photos: Sanket Jain