In 2020, about 98 % of the farming family will have a shrunk holding of only ‘do bigha jameen’. Normally, today a farmer gets around every year Rs 20,000- 30000 worth of grains from an acre of land that is a little less than two bighas. This is when the farmer family remains with the traditional farming of wheat and paddy. Naturally, the revenue will not be sufficient to feed a family of five. What can be the way out for the family to generate better revenue and earnings to sustain the family? Two possible routes will be one through increasing the minimum support price of the grains by the government and the second, by improving the yield from the farm that must be aimed to reach the yield of the best in the country and then that in the world.
The 2010-11 acreage and production numbers suggest that the average wheat productivity surged perceptibly to 2.94 tonnes a hectare, from 2.83 tonnes in 2009-10. At this level, India’s average wheat productivity is comparable with that of the US’ at 2.6 tonnes, though it is far below China’s at 4.7 tonnes.
The farmers and also the concerned government agencies in other state such as Bihar must at first try to achieve the productivity in wheat production to the level of Punjab removing all the constraints and then draw a roadmap to reach the productivity of the farmers in China. The government must facilitate and motivate the farmers to enhance the productivity levels of the production of various grains, be it paddy, pulses or oilseed.
Many are exploring to improve upon the productivity and earning through various means. Farming needs the knowledge of its science, management and business approach. The farmers today can’t compete or grow without a new approach.
As a story reported, Anju Srivastava has been able to explode productivity by introducing high-value, low-water use crops and modern farming techniques. When Srivastava tweaks traditional cropping pattern, swapping jowar and bajra for herbs and salads, converting to drip irrigation to save gallons of water and bring down electricity bills, using composting and other sustainable farming techniques to conserve and improve soil, she gets exponentially higher output of already high-value produce.
Srivastava, through these techniques, has managed to get ‘12 lakh per acre per annum, thus creating wealth. “My farmer’s family incomes have gone up from ‘20,000 to ‘3 lakh per annum,” for every acre of land they continue to own.
Fortunately, many are trying to experiment on the ways and means to make farming as professional interesting and profitable.The farmers are adding to their revenues through growing vegetables, fruits and that too exotic for export. The government, some business houses and marketing agencies are providing the necessary input. Some NGO firms are cutting down the intermediaries to get better price.
Contract farming, improved irrigation facilities, progressive farming practices besides the better seeds from right sources do bring many miracles that were not known earlier.
The state agriculture universities must shake off their laboratories-centric mentality and take their innovations to the farmers. The state government must make it happen. Nitish Kumar wishes to send the farmers to China. I wish the farmers from all over the country must start learning from the best achieved in the country. There must be extensive exchange visits among the farming community.
The scientists must go for intensive research to make ‘do bigha jameen’ productive enough to sustain a small family.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this report are purely those of the author and may not in any circumstances be regarded as the official view of BiharTimes.