After a long gap of 25 years my parents were fond of getting back into farming lands. Especially my dad has been way too keen to dirty his hands in soil. Though we hail from a farming background, my parents moved to Bangalore from Chittoor. There were a number of reasons for this move. Very first thing was water scarcity. The ground water levels in Chittoor is so bad, most of the conventional irrigation wells have no water even today. Drilling a bore well is a kind of lucky dip for agricultural purposes!
To simply sum it up, the farmers in that region rely predominantly on rains during monsoons. Ground water level increases during rainy season which lasts till February or March. As soon as the summer starts, people feel the pinch for drinking water as well. There aren’t any rivers in this part of the earth though the lord Venkateshwara’s Tirumala-Tirupati temple isn’t too far. If the rains aren’t good enough, farmers go through a real bad year. Even if it rains, the electricity to run irrigation pump sets play havoc with farmers lives. We crib if the power is cut off during summer for an hour or two in cities. But in rural India, there wont be power for more than 10 hours a day through out the year! That too the power is split in 2 phase and 3 phases at different times. Two phase power is usually for lighting purposes while 3 phase is for pump sets. Seven hours of un-interrupted power for pump sets is considered to be a kind of gift for people in this region.
Having said that, people still make their lively hood through agriculture. Gone are the days when my grand parents were breeding silk worms apart from paddy and ground nut farming. Now most of the land is converted for mango plantation due to all the above mentioned reasons apart from the severe lack of human resource availability. The remaining land is used for ground nut cultivation based on rainy seasons. Very minimal land being utilized for paddy fields in recent times. There are plenty of mango pulp extraction and processing factories that have started in past few years. People around this region are attracted to 9am to 6pm of standard working hours, monthly salary, pick up and drop by these factories to door steps etc., So, not much of greenery around, instead industrialization roots have started to grow stronger!
Why am I writing all these things? Yes, here comes the main stream attention. On one hand, we all know that the forest area is decreasing day by day. At the same time, we are abandoning farming lands in favor of industries. Due to this, production of food grains is decreasing. Even if you try to take up agriculture as a full time profession, there is a severe scarcity of man power. Even if available, the man power has become so costly, the final crop cost is no where profitable for the farmer. To add to all these burns, our democratic government has introduced schemes like Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme with benefits like Rs 2/- per kilo of rice. Most of the farm labors work for 5-6 days a month which earns them about Rs 600/-. Spend about Rs 50 for 25 kilos of rice through PDS and live with remaining money for rest of the month or use it for their liquor habits. Again go and work whenever the money is needed to satisfy their habits. Instead of promoting the hard work based incentives, I am sad to see some of the beneficial schemes like REGS turning into promoting laziness among rural population in India.
Despite all this, we expect the food grain prices not to shoot up… there is one more question in my mind… Where are we heading to?