Sunday, January 27, 2008

Issues & Developments in Tamilnadu

The last sixteen days in Tamilnadu has brought many new issues and lots of developments have taken place. The local people responded well to the Yatra. As the focus area of the Yatra is to highlight the issue of growing industrialization especially in the agricultural zones, the farmers discussed their problems and issues with the team.

The team has covered a distance of 710 km, that includes 120 villages .44 Meetings were held at different places and team had interacted with around 2000 farmers


ü Resource right : Coca Cola, Gangaikonda The case of the Coca cola plant also came up as the Yatra team reached village Gangaikonda . The Bottling plant was set up against the permission of the local Panchayat in 2005-06. The plant was given permission to withdraw 5 Lakh litres of water per day from the river Thamirabarani. The water withdrawn by the plant is equivalent to what a farmer owning 34 acre of land would draw on an average. As told by the locals they voiced against this but in vain. This ultimately resulted in the scarcity of water availability for the purpose of agriculture. The farmers have suffered a lot because of this. There are many other similar cases like this where there has been a direct attack on the resource right of the local people. The resources like land and water are being sacrificed in the name development.

Similarly, in Uttopatti the farmers have discontinued with farming due to changes in the water level there.

ü Need for a Farmer’s Bank
VELLORE:Near river Kaveri. About 40 per cent of the total betel is produced here. Around 1 lakh people in Tamilnadu grow the betel and their livelihood is dependent on it.

· The banks (Co-operative banks/gramin banks) do not provide the betel growers with the facility of loans as betel is considered a very sensitive crop and thus for the bank there is lesser guarantee of the returns from the farmer.
· There is no fixed /regulated rate available for the betel crop
· Research benefits are not there so the farmers are totally dependent on their knowledge for this

Till now the state government has not done anything for the benefits of this group. These people have formed a group /Farmer’s association. They have planned to meet soon, around 10,000 betel growers are expected to gather and ask for their demands before the government.

ü Almost 50 per cent of the agricultural land alongside the highway between Kanyakumari and Hosur has been sold out to the industrialists .Apart from this the land use change has taken place on a very big scale and lots of industries have come up in place of agriculture in the state.

ü About 99 percent of farmer’s children do not want to continue with the farming because the returns are not good and also the farmer is not respected in the State.

The farmer is not happy in our supposedly agrarian country. As said by Sinnaswami, a farmer from Dhramapuri “This is not an independent country because the land is being sold without a farmers consent”. Likewise Munniraju of Hosur stated that people selling and buying agricultural land for non-agricultural use should be put behind the bars.
The farmers also voiced against the fact that Pongal, which is basically a farmer’s festival, do not bring any benefit for them but the government gives bonus to its employee .The farmers are totally ignored by Government and there has been no policy for the benefit of farmers and farming from the State Government and that is reason for the growing suicides by the farmers. Green Industry can be the best option for all the problems as it will promote agriculture and will at the same time serve the purpose of the industries.

Surprisingly, irrespective of the condition of the villages, every village, covered by the cycle Yatra team, has a wine shop and the cell phones!

Task of Farmers Organisation

· ‘Farmer’s organisation’-After meeting and discussion with the Yatra team the farmers in Tamilnadu have decided to form a Farmer’s forum/organisation .It will be totally non-political. At least two representatives from each district will be called and the meeting will be held to form the ‘Farmer’s organisation’. Yatra team is also motivating the women to organize themselves, as they are equally involved in the farming.

· The farmers in the state have strongly asked for need to conserve water for the agriculture. The data say that about 75% of the total water in Tamilnadu is consumed by the agriculture. Keeping this in mind the, the water conservation for agri-purposes will be an important parameter in the Proposed Agri Act and policy.

· The need for a farmer’s Bank is strongly voiced by the Farmers. The bank should fix a price for the produce .The Bank should be the stakeholder in the productivity and the interest should be drawn from the selling of the products. This will reduce the burden on the farmer in terms of money and paying interest in terms of the value added products would benefit both. Bank can easily develop the market for the new products.

· The Betel growers Vellore has already formed a group. They have planned to meet somewhere around mid February to put their demands in front of the Government. Around 10,000 beetle growers are expected to gather.

Parsaarthi a farmer from Village Mesnaur of District Virudhunagar,Tamilnadu had a good story to share with the Yatra team.He took a loan five years ago to buy a five acre land.
He went for integrated farming and has paid entire loan now.As described by Wikepedia Integrated farming (or integrated agriculture) is a system of agricultural techniques developed in France in 1993 by FARRE (Forum de l'Agriculture Raisonnée Respecteuse l'Environnement). It is an attempt to reconcile agricultural methods with the principles of sustainable development, by balancing, in the words of FARRE, "food production, profitability, safety, animal welfare, social responsibility and environmental care."
Integarted farming helped him in earning regular money,he says that this kind of farming offered him better security and ensured fixed earning.
Parsaarthi and his wife also possess a different view regarding future of their children and want them to continue with agriculture.
Unlike other couples they also expressed their concern on education system in the country.They think that at least till intermediate agriculture should find a place in the curriculum as the presence of only other subject does not allow a student to think about agriculture as a career option.They were also of the opinion that a diploma course in agriculture will give their children an exposure in related issues like Marketing etc.

In another incident a youngman , intermediate qualified said he could not find any other job so he opted for agriculture.He said that if the basic facilities like electricity and water are made available more youngsters will choose agriculture as their career option.

Secure future of farmers”
Published by
Jan 19, 2008 in SEZ News.

Dindigul, Jan 18, 2008: Led by Dr. Anil P.Joshi, a Padmashri award winner, a team of 11 members took out a marathon cycle rally from Kanyakumari to New Delhi demanding an Agricultural Act and farmers’ friendly agricultural policies to protect cultivable lands and survival of farmers.

The team, comprising students, farmers and social activists, had reached Dindigul on Thursday evening after covering southern districts of Tamil Nadu.

Talking to the press persons at Gandhi gram Trust in Gandhi gram, he said food grains were transported from northern to southern states. Therefore it should be in the Central List.

The policies of the Central Government like formation of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) have been taking away the land rights of farmers. Mere compensation for acquisition of agriculture lands would not ensure adequate security to farmers.

“First of all, agricultural land should not be offered for such activities .Our mandate is to make farmers an active partner in such activities so that their future ca be secured. The Central government had abandoned Nandigram issue

Source: The Hindu

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