Haryana has been and still is primarily an agrarian economy where agriculture forms a major source of income for most farmers. The farmers of Haryana played a major role in bringing about the Green Revolution that transformed the Indian agricultural scenario. The farmers continue to play their significant role today.
But have we as a state given the farmers their due? The farmers in the state are constantly facing several problems in almost all areas of agriculture and the state government has done little to address them. The problems being faced by farmers are:
Non-availability of steady power supply during peak periods of demand. This has been a major problem faced by farmers especially during the sowing season. The absence of adequate rains and irregular power supply means that the farmers have to rely on their diesel gensets to run the tubewells. This only adds to their operating costs which results in lower profits for farmers. Despite frequent representation with the state government the problem of steady power supply has not been resolved.
Lack of proper compensation in case of crop failure or damage. Earlier in April this year, the farmers of Jhajjar who suffered crop damage in 2011 due to heavy rains and water logging were paid compensation of Rs 2, 3, and 4 by cheques! This is a failure of state policy for compensating farmers at the time of their need. It is the farmer who plays an important role in bringing prosperity to the state; therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the state government to take care in providing adequate relief to farmers on time. The present state administration has failed to support the farmers despite repeated requests from them.
Overdrawing of the ground water by the commercial developers across the state is reducing the water table to dangerous levels and the problem is getting worse due to poor rainfall. The state administration has completely failed to address this issue and the gap between demand and supply of water is widening in the state and the farmers are beginning to feel the pinch. In coming times, water will become the primary reason for conflict, and we do not wish to see a situation where the farmers unite in agitation demanding more water. This issue must be taken up immediately and addressed by the state government.
Lack of crop insurance is another area that the farmers are worried about. Each year the production varies due to differing weather patterns and in years of extreme weather change, the failing crops cause huge losses for farmers who have taken loans for the season. Since there is no proper crop insurance scheme that compensates the farmer adequately, the farmer is exposed to loan risk. Ultimately, it is the farmer that has to bear the brunt of crop failure, while the loan default adds pressure to the banking system. This is an area where the state government has failed to take adequate steps in introducing a state scheme for farmers.
Farming area in the state is reducing due to diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. Sheer greed for profit is leading to more and more agricultural land being transferred to commercial developers, at the cost of the goodwill of farmers. In fact a lot of pressure is being put on farmers to sell their land by offering them various incentives over and above the cost of land. In the last eight years alone, there has been a significant amount of agricultural land that has been converted to commercial use. This can only result in Haryana losing out as a leading state in agricultural production and will affect thousands of farmers who are dependent on agriculture for a livelihood.
The state administration has done little to promote agriculture amongst the youth in the state. Despite high level of unemployment, the youth in Haryana is not interested in taking up agriculture as a career. Even existing farmers are not interested in getting their children to take up the profession. The state government has done very little to create a positive environment, offer attractive schemes, loans and training focused towards the youth, that will encourage them to take up agriculture as a career.
It is time that the farmers of the state collectively fight for their rights.
The state government must guarantee availability of steady power for the agriculture sector throughout the year. For this the state government has to actively promote setting up of more power plants and sub stations in the state, to meet the internal demands. Only surplus power must be sold to the national grid.
Given the scarcity of water and varying rainfall pattern, the farmers must demand subsidy and support from the government to promote drip and micro irrigation. This must be accompanied by full encouragement to farmers for using micro-nutrients along with this form of irrigation. In addition, the farmer's must demand the latest in Green House technology to enhance agricultural output. It is the state's responsibility to offer farmers the latest in technology and optimize the use of water resources in agriculture.
The farmers must demand a state agricultural insurance policy that will clearly offer farmers adequate compensation immediately in cases of crop failure or damage. In the absence of this Insurance cover, the state must announce a clear and well defined policy for compensation, so that the farmer knows clearly the extent of his risk coverage. An adequate cover will not only instill confidence in the farmers but also attract the youth to take this up as a profession.
The state has to actively promote higher value added crops to farmers by encouraging them with free seeds and saplings. There is vast scope for farmers to increase their income by balancing traditional crops with exotic produce that get a higher price. In addition, there is a growing demand for organic food in the country. This offers an opportunity for farmers in Haryana to promote organic farming but the state has to step in with support initiatives. Farmers must demand this as their right.
There is a lot of development in areas of high yielding and disease resistant seeds, organic pesticides, food packaging and food processing. All these are areas where the farmers of Haryana can benefit and enhance their earnings significantly. The farmers must come forward and demand that the state government announce special incentive schemes for farmers who wish to graduate from just food farming to food processing. There is no reason why an integrated approach towards the entire supply chain cannot be promoted with farmer's involvement.
It is time for the farmers to demand for their rights and claim their share of the next era of growth in modern agriculture.