Posts Tagged ‘policy’
Historically, farming was a rain fed practice. Even today, after spending lakhs of crores (or trillions, if you prefer that system of counting large numbers) of rupees and $s on irrigation systems and destroying almost all river ecosystems across the world, ~20% of cultivated land is irrigated. And ~60% of food production comes from rain fed farms. For more interesting facts and figures on irrigation, please see this comprehensive FAO ready reckoner and explore the website.
If we look at the budgetary outlays in India (and in other countries too) investments in agriculture are invariably dominated by investments in irrigation. Isn’t it high time people call the bluff and realized that if we really want to have a food system that survives the changing climate and tumultuous financial systems, we need to develop our rain fed farms.
Increasing spending on irrigation will of course mean more contracts and constructions. And construction, after all is the best way for people in power to make more money.
“There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow !! Oh ho, why do you worry about all the money we are making you spend to get to this pot of gold, or about the wrecked ecosystems we are leaving behind! you are such an ‘anti-national’ !!”
As I mentioned in a post earlier today, repeated extreme weather events (are they increasing in frequency?) such as hail storms, heat and cold waves, unseasonal rains, cyclones, are laying bare the faulty premise of today’s agricultural system, not just in India but across the world. Those farmers who are holding out against the pressures of the market & the agri establishment and are going in for multi-cropping are able to take home something. While most farmers who depend on prescriptions, typically of mono cropping the latest hot thing in the market, are having to migrate to manual labour markets in urban areas.
On most sustainable farming forums, many an agri. scientist and dept. official have waxed eloquently about the merits of multi-cropping and the need to move towards that. And there have been a few schemes and programs that promote mixed cropping. But these are too few and are no where sufficient in meeting the need of the hour.
I feel its time to take it up a notch – make mutli/mixed-cropping mandatory to avail of any government incentives or subsidies in farming. Stop using public money to push farmers further into the mono cropping trap and deeper into debt. There have been enough farmers ending their lives, almost all of them were practicing mono-cropping, and those surviving getting buried deeper and deeper in debt. Instead of spending ever more amounts of public money on a failed model, let us change course and consciously put our resources behind a form of farming that is economically viable and socio-ecologically sustainable. We should stop the use of tax payer money to fund the destruction of farmers’ soil, their families and their children’s future. All this for supporting a supply chain that even after all this provides empty calories and chemical rich things labeled as ‘food’.