The current farming crisis in a nut shell
At 20, we worry about exams. At 20, they worry about raising the kids, earning livelihood, taking care of their family
We lose our jobs, we find another one. They lose their jobs, they lose their lives
We make loses, we claim insurance. They make loses, they claim their lives
We spend hours in deciding what to wear, but for them with just 2 pairs of clothes and no footwear the choice is very simple
We need second loan, we refinance and restructure our loans at the lowest interest rates. They need second loans, they borrow from private money lenders at exorbitant rates
They till the land, they toil hard in the sun, but they don't own the land, so they are not recognized as farmers
They suffer loses, the crops are destroyed either due to floods or due to draught, but are never compensated
We are chased by the banks and credit card companies to take their loans. They literally beg for loans but only in vain
2) What are the current challenges
1) Tenant Farmers: About 80% of the farmer suicides are committed by the Tenant Farmers since they are not recognized as farmers and hence they are not entitled to any of the benefits the farmers are supposed to get. For e.g. they don't get access to loans or to the crop insurance etc. The Loan eligibility cards were designed to address this problem where the tenant farmers would be given the LEC to make them eligible for the farmer benefits.
So the big question - what can we do?
This project is a humble attempt to collectively doing something for our farmers in Telangana. Our ground teams (Telangana Joint Action Committee - TJAC, Rythu Swarajya Vedika - RSV) are engaged with the farmers on the ground and have been conducting and coordinating various activities that include
- Conducting awareness campaigns
- Influencing policy making
- Providing temporary relief to the suicide victims
1) Provide temporary relief to the farmer suicide victims. The list of the families will be updated soon as we are compiling this information at the moment.
2) Provide zero percent interest loans to the farmers: The families will be identified by the ground teams will be Telangana Joint Action Committee, Rhythu Swarajya Vedika.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) How will the farmer suicde victim families be identified?
Ans) Our partners on the ground TJAC, RSV have conducted various field visits and have reached out to hundreds of families. They will be providing the list of the farmers and/or families who we would be working with.
2) How would providing money to the families of the suicide victims help in dealing with the farming crisis?
Ans) When the only earning member of the family dies, the family is in complete disarray. Moreover the procedures involved in getting the compensation are not simple and involve lot of bureaucratic hurdles. Given all this the family is pushed into further crisis. This money will be used to provide temporarly relief to the family and will help them get sometime to get things back on track.
3) What are we doing to address the conditions that are leading to the suicides?
- As noted above, close to 80% of the suicides in Telangana are committed by Tenant Farmers. Our partners on the ground (Telangana Joint Action Committee, Rythu Swarajya Vedika) are working hard to conduct surveys by directly interacting with farmers, compile reports, gather facts and make recommendations to the government.
- The fundraising campaign is also aimed to increasing the awareness around the crisis and also about solutions in how they can be addressed. Through out this campaign, we shall provide updates highlighting these efforts
Yes, it is very much a viable, sustainablea and respectable profession. Agriculture contributed roughly 50 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and, correspondingly, around 57% of the country’s land was being used for it. Over time, the contribution to GDP has come down significantly – to just around 14% in 2012-13 – but the amount of agricultural land has remained the same (source: Ministry of Agriculture).
So there is lot of potential and its just lack of political will and lack of infrastructure support thats driving the farmers into the crisis. These are also the reasons why handloom sector, small enterpreneurs and skilled labor in India are facing a some what similar crisis
5) Isn't the money being given to the farmer suicide victims encouraging more suicides?
Ans) Not really, on the contrary, by being there for the families when they need this little help to put their lives back on track, is exactly what they need. Unfortunately, they get caught up in the paper work etc. making the compensation process very laborious. While this attempt will not address all the farmer suicide victims, it certainly can help a few and also gives us a chance to understand the crisis a bit more, so the conditions leading to the crisis can also be addressed systematically.
6) Is farming in small farming areas a good option economically?
Ans) The problems are not with the size of the land but more from the lack of infra set up. For e.g. If a farmer who owns a 2 acre land, he or she can easily mark 0.25 acres of land for his/her own purpose, so the minimum food security can be maintained. The rest of the 1.75 acres can be used to cultivate essential food crops instead of cash crops. Today a major reason for the crisis is the shift in agriculture patterns from cultivating food crops to moving towards cash crops.
7) Why only Telangana Farmers?
Ans) At the moment, we have the ground teams doing all the leg work and conducting field trips, talking to the farmers, organizing campaigns etc. Whatever help we garner we can help maintain complete transparency and accountability for every single penny we raise.
Previously we have helped raise funds to help the Vidarbha farmers: https://milaap.org/campaigns/help-the-vidarbha-farmers
8) Poison on our plates - Know your food, know your farmers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1032&v=Ve7GraXPC30