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Updated: July 23, 2011 11:06 IST

Rural employment scheme making life miserable for small farmers

M. J. Prabu
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Shymanna Nayak. Photo: M.J. Prabu
The Hindu Shymanna Nayak. Photo: M.J. Prabu

“What can we poor ryots do against the might of money and power?”

“In the last 60-odd years several governments have come to power, and some of them got toppled for various reasons. Politicians become crorepathis in four or five years; but the condition of farmers is deteriorating from from bad to worse,” says Mr. Shamanna Nayak a small farmer from Odilnala village, Belthangady taluk in Dharmasthala.

“In the name of development, fertile lands are being developed into industries, Special economic zones, IT parks, new airports and power plants, or developed into real estate. How can we then talk of ensuring the country's food security?” he asks.

Different varieties

Mr. Nayak owns five acres and grows more than 15 varieties of vegetables, arecanut, coconut, cocoa, banana, cashew, vanilla, paddy, cardamom using only natural inputs for the crops.

“Growing one or two vegetables is a common thing in this region. I wanted to grow as many varieties as possible to get a consistent income throughout the year,” he says.

The farmer earns between Rs. 45,000 to Rs.60,000 a year from cultivating vegetables alone.

“Cardamom, cocoa, banana, paddy etc are sold according to the prevailing market price and I am able to get an additional Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 40,000 a year from them,” he says.

Some of the government schemes for farmers are quite strange and contradictory, according to him.

“On the one hand, the government encourages farmers to buy seeds and fertilizers from its marketing departments and on the other hand, in the name of the rural employment scheme it is totally destroying the livelihoods of several thousand small farmers, as labour is very hard to source today.”

Working time

Those enlisted under the scheme need to work for a minimum of at least seven hours daily.

“But in reality, if you visit the place, you can see that after an hour of working these people simply sit under the tree chatting idly or worse, sleeping. At the end of the day they collect Rs.100 and leave. This is the ground reality, and worse still, the officials also know about it but do nothing,” he says.

The farmer further adds that the scheme has been scrapped from his region due to large scale corruption in selecting persons to work and the charges that the prescribed payment not being made.

Labour for work

Regarding labour for work the farmer says, “Thanks to the Pragatibandhu Scheme initiated by Dr. Veerendra Hegde, Dharmadhikari, Dharmasthala, we don't face labour problems in this region.

“I work in others fields for some days and other farmers work in my fields for certain number of days. If not for this scheme many of us would be facing hard times in sourcing manual labour.”

The farmer feels that the 100 days work scheme by the government is the main reason for striking a death blow to the already fragile farming community.

“It was the usual practice to call labourers from neighbouring villages to work if you could not source them in your village. But today after the scheme implementation, it is the same situation everywhere — nonavailability of workers.”

Doubtful question

“I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I read reports on India being vibrant and going to establish itself as a super power. How can a country hope to become powerful when farm lands are fast disappearing in the name of economic reforms?” he enquires.

“Before independence, zamindars controlled many acres of land. After Independence, the Government distributed the lands to landless farmers.

But today history is seen repeating itself. Several acres of lands are being bought by many new industrialists in the name of economic development.

What can we poor farmers do against the might of money and power?” he asks.

“The government says that massive industrialization will lead to overall improvement of rural life.

As a farmer in this profession for generations I agree since it will help improve my life, but I don't want such improvement to destroy my occupation,” he says with a determined look.

For more details contact Mr. Shamanna Nayak, Moolottu House, Oilanala Post & Village, Oilanala, Belthangady Taluk, Karnataka.574214, mobile: 09141105398.

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