India is a land of rivers. She greets the monsoon every year in July and it extends up to almost the middle of October. The rivers, some of which are not snow-fed become filled with water during this time of the year. This abundance of natural sources of water makes the country suitable for farming. The story of farming in India is not a recent one. Indians are farming from the days when the Indus Valley Civilization existed. As far as statistics are concerned, India has around 159.7 million hectares of land where farming is possible. Farming is also a great career option. More than 50% of the workforce in India is involved in farming.
Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri recognized the important roles that the farmers and the soldiers play and coined the slogan - Jai Jawan Jai Kisaan. After independence, India badly needed economic growth. Farming helped India maintain the precarious economic balance to a somewhat decent level. Without agricultural expansion, the Indians would have faced a severe crisis in the ’60s. It must be noted that the growth of other sectors significantly depends on the growth of farming.
Primitive Method of Farming
In India, most of the farmers are engaged in primitive or subsistence farming. This type of farming involves no automatic labour. Each and every work is done manually- from tilling to harvesting. At most, cattle drawn tilling is employed.
Subsistence farming is healthy for the soil. With no tools in use, the cost of farming is very less. Furthermore, since this is a natural method of farming, not much chemical fertilizer or insecticides are used. This is a sustainable form of farming. However, the absence of tools means that the yield is too low to sell the surplus in the market after personal consumption. Without any tools, this farming method needs much manual labour.
When “Kisaan” Meets “Vigyan”: Intensive Farming
The former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee added Jay Vigyan to the already popular slogan of Shastriji. He recognized the role of science in all of the sectors. The farming sector did not miss the benefits of science.
The method of farming which involves usage of fertilizers, pesticides and machines like tractors to aim for high yield is called intensive farming. This is a modern method of farming. The yield is very high and the surplus crop can be sold in the market. So, the farmers can actually get sustained income from this kind of farming. Apart from machines and fertilizers, this kind of farming also requires large tracts of land and a great number of farmers.
There are certain crops that have high demand and great monetary value. These crops are grown with the aim of gaining profit. However, special technical expertise, large amounts of land, patience and sometimes politics are involved with this particular method of farming. Because of the scientific tools involved, the yield is very high. The crops will test the patience of the farmers - they need much time to mature.
There are certain areas in India where people grow crops in particular land and, after harvesting, they move elsewhere. The Jhum agriculture in Assam is a notable form of shifting agriculture. This kind of farming promotes societal harmony, but it harms the soil and the ecology.
Moisture Based Fry Farming
There are certain areas in India that experience low rainfall. Some parts of Bihar, UP, North-East etc see this kind of weather. With the lack of rivers as the additional detriment, there is not much available water to be used in the farmlands. As a result, people, in these areas, grow crops that intake moisture from the air to fulfil the water needs. Cotton, wheat, maize etc are some of the examples of dry crops.
In order to utilize the arable land to the largest extent and in order to maintain the fertility of the soil there is a method of farming which involves growing the crops on a rotational basis. Again, there is a certain method that involves growing more than one crop simultaneously. This is a great utilisation of the land.
Although agriculture in India has always been given importance, the farmers in India are not living in good condition. The politicians failed to continue the scientific advancements and progressive policies that started in the 1960s and continued till the 1980s. However, still today, most of the farmers are using primitive farming methods. The loans taken by the farmers are making them drown in debts. The social welfare policies and monetary help do not reach the farmers because of too much red-tapism. As many as 10,349 farmers committed suicide in 2018.
Farming in India depends on the monsoon a little too much. There is a dire need for scientific methods. It is high time that all the people of the country come forward and help the farmers. Without good farmers, we will be heading towards genetically modified (GM) crops. As Indians, lovers of all things natural, that will be a bad experience. We have the ability to come out of darkness. And we have the power to improve farming too.
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