Why farmers are committing suicide in India? Is it due to the failure of our agricultural scientists or due to the failure of our administrators. Is it agricultural scientists and not politicians who are leading to farmers’ suicides?
Of late – mainly in the last few years – rainfall patterns are changing all over India and have resulted in crop damages in many states and in essential areas like production of staple food items like pulses etc in the country.
While political parties are quick to take up the political challenge of the day and try and woo farmers to their side by launching attacks on the party in power, the real challenge for India is for its agriculture scientists who will now have to think in terms of seeking solutions to these problems.
Only in the last fifty years India has emerged from a food shortage nation to a food surplus one. This present generation has access to more food and more luxury than any other generation before them where lack of milk and even foodgrains like wheat was the norm rather than the exception.
The present generation of Indians is also suffering from a food induced obesity epidemic. However this is no reason for complacency among the agricultural scientists of the nation.
Agriculture research has now to focus on plants and species that are more resistant to weather changes and provide food accordingly. So far agriculture scientists have only given temporary results and major side effects. The poisoning of the fields of Punjab is due to excessive Green Revolution induced chemical farming.
The bringing of the Indira Gandhi canal to Rajasthan may have brought rice cultivation to the region but it has also brought malaria and rodents to the region as well. Japanese Encephalitis is a result of paddy cultivation with piggery in Gorakhpur and Deoria. Local fish species have been destroyed by Chinese imports.
It is time that agriculture scientists apply the latest techniques to produce more food, without damage to the local environment and without stressing water resources. The Red Indians used to drink from a cactus called prickly pear in the desert. Maybe ICAR and others need to look there for smart plants to produce food without mega dams and untimely rainfall obstructing the process.
Smart plants exist in concept. They are like the tomato that does not mould because it has a chicken gene in it. Or the rice that has a carrot gene in it. However India needs to rethink its agriculture and water use methods, otherwise if the country turns into a vast desert and faces a major ecological disaster it could be because of its agriculture scientist community, which has failed to come up with a novel solution like the prickly pear.