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Forsaken farmers-food for thought


While the state has been witnessing more than its fair share of protests, agitations and campaigns for issues ranging the spectrum of human needs and then some, it is not often that the farmers of the state take to the streets to highlight their plights and make public their concerns. For unlike the rest of the agitators/protestors who can prolong their stand to push for their demands, farming is a very time dependent activity and one practiced by a majority who has limited approach and influence in the political sphere. And when these farmers put their tools down to take to the streets and raise a concern risking the damages of inattention to their crops, everybody should not just listen but understand that a very genuine and immediate point is needed to be made. It is for this very reason that the sit-in-protest staged by a group of farmers yesterday needs to be given the required attention of each and every one who has anything to do with farming in the state, including the consumers.

So what was the point they were trying to make? First off, the vagaries of nature have already done the damage and total product of paddy is expected to fall by at least fifty percent if not more. They are in need of resources including cash which have been used up to keep their crop from drying up due to the worsening shortage of water in the fields which have reached an alarming level in the hills for a while now. The farmers are in need of compensation as an immediate relief measure to try and salvage their crops or what is still left of it. But more than anything, what concerns the farmers of the state is the absence of a long term practical policy for implementing progressive farming practices and measures to counter the rising uncertainties of nature as well as climate change which is here to stay. While the state government and respective department have declared that canals and irrigations facilities have been made available to the majority of farmers with efforts to expand the operation to reach maximum coverage, the reality on the ground presents a different picture and farmers are still shouting themselves hoarse to provide irrigation facilities of a sustainable nature. Unavailability of fertilizers and other vital agricultural inputs in time to the farmers still pose an insurmountable puzzle for the government officials entrusted with the task. Schemes and projects under which farming equipments are distributed remains accessible to those farmers with connections and are in the know of officials while the really needy ones remains out of focus from the whole exercise.
As one farmer puts it succinctly, identifying of real farmers through a process of registration and subsequent issue of documents such as Kishan Credit cards will go a long way in streamlining the distribution of various benefits and assistances designed to help the farmers to improve their activities. However, all these exercise and efforts will come to naught if a system of effective assessment and redressal is in place. Caring for the farmers is caring for the health of the people of the state.

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