Farmer’s suicides in Telangana have reached 1400. This accounts to 30 deaths in every month and one every day. Medak district, which had known no farmers suicides reported 145 deaths this year. This is leading to a state of hopelessness in the agriculture sector.
It is indeed amazing to see how the situation in four mandals in Zaheerabad contradicts the hues of public and media on farmers desperations. No farmer so far has committed suicide in the four mandals of Zaheerabad despite their farming practice being completely independent on water, electricity and chemical fertilizers. The farmers in this region have been engaged in growing traditional crops with traditional methods (ecological and biodiverse farming). All these farmers express a high level of confidence and motivation who are an inspiration to other farmers.
Meedoddi Vinoda in Nagwar village, Raikode Mandal grows 18 variety of crops worth 2 lakh rupees in her 3 acre of land despite the unfavorable climate conditions using her own seeds and manure. Adjacent to her field is where Tenugu Yadaiah in his farm grows BT cotton as a mono crop with an investment of Rs. 50000/- and earns Rs. 80000/-. He buys seed, manure and pesticides from the external market adding to his borrowed knowledge of farming. His farm fails to fetch him food, fodder for his cattle, a pulse or an oil seed making him completely dependent on an external sources for all of these. In contrast, Vinoda could earn food (Jowar, Korra, pulses, oil seeds) sufficient for her whole family for an entire year making her completely self sufficient. These stories of Vinoda and Yadaiah reflects the current situation of Telangana farmers as a whole. If one story talks about self confidence and hope the other story talks about the hopelessness, dependency and desperation.
Today we are at the cross roads, one of which is to dream high in the path of destruction and the other to accomplish the small hopes and leading aspiration a well being and prosperous state. In order to make Telangana a people friendly State, Government should encourage farmers growing Millets and recognize them as natural assets of this region rather than neglecting these climate resilient crops. Making the traditional knowledge of these farms as the foundation, we should build the Bangaru Telangana.
This is high time for the state to declare Telangana a Millet State. In view of the acute water crisis that stares Indian agriculture in the face Government should declare water bonus for millet farmers who use no irrigated water at all to grow their crops. Issues of searching for piecemeal solution for food and fodder security it should be dealt with a comprehensive approach that is possible with millet cultivation rather than finding discrete solutions.
Such an approach can save upto Rs. 50000 crores which can be used for welfare of farmers and other development activities in agriculture sector. These traditional method of agriculture contributing to environment and human wellbeing fare becomes a help worth thousands of crores to the farmer families.
-Dr PV Satheesh
Internationally renowned developmental communication specialist,
Deccan Development Society (DDS).