Challenges Faced by Farmers of Karnataka
Agriculture is one of the oldest occupations. Ever since the existence of humanity, agriculture and farming are important aspects of every single human either directly or indirectly. Since then there has been a lot of improvement in agriculture and farming techniques but any of them never really improved the lives of farmers. Farmers were suffering then, they are still suffering now.
During the decade, 1995 to 2004, 1,56,541 farmers have committed suicide as per the Swaminathan report. Which means every year 15,654 farmers have taken their lives until 2004. But the situation is not much different in 2020, every day 28 people dependent on farming killed themselves. Karnataka is also one of the major contributors to the number of farmer suicides in India. In 2019, 1992 farmers took their lives in Karnataka.
In Spite of the selfless efforts of the farmers to feed the nation, what they get in return is quite brutal. The farmers who feed the nation to keep it healthy and strong are not taken care of. We all know, farmers are the crucial part of ourselves. Yet we fail to recognize it, to respect it or to preserve it. The food we eat is not grown with just water and soil, it includes the blood, sweat and efforts of farmers yet Farmers are exploited daily to fulfil the greed of corporates.
Government has come up with various ways to help farmers but all those have hardly made any difference.
So we decided to directly talk to farmers, we tried to connect to them telephonically and learn their problems and come up with solutions which can be followed individually to help farmers have better lives. It’s not just the government that is responsible for the terrible situation of farmers. Let us not forget our duty as humans.
Challenges faced by Karnataka farmers
- Growing trend of Organic Production
Organic products are gaining more importance recently. But this has increased the problem for farmers who grow it inorganically. Most of the farmers are not much aware of the techniques of organic farming and added to it organic production has no much yield and hence they can not fulfil the demands of the market. Moreover, organic products and inorganic products are given the same price. Few farmers grow crops organically but have not got the certification.
2. Price fluctuations
This is one of the major problems which is common to almost all farmers. No farmer gets a fair price for his efforts. No matter how much they fight injustice at the end they are forced to sell their produce at the price decided by the middlemen. Government do promise MSP but the benefit of it is not received by all farmers. MSP is declared only for a few items, hence prices for all crops are not regulated.
3. Non-Availability of right subsidies and financial supports
Many subsidies are available to farmers but only a few are beneficial to them. Few subsidies are not preferred by the farmers due to the terms and conditions attached to them. Majority of farmers are not getting any subsidies in Karnataka. The financial support available to Karnataka farmers is very low. Even the insurance amounts are not paid to them in some cases in spite of the premiums paid by them.
4. Limited buyers
Another major problem of farmers is the non-availability of buyers and no direct link with the corporate sector. One of the common requests made by them was to get them directly linked to the buyers so that they can stop being looted by the middlemen. Government buys only a part of the produce from a few farmers at MSP, so buyers are needed to sell the rest of the produce. APMC and mandis can be useful but again farmers become price takers and not price makers.
5. High priced fertilizers and pesticides
Farmers who grow inorganically are still dependent on fertilizers. No matter at what quantity they purchase they will have to pay the market price with no discount. This has posed a great problem to farmers due to the increased expense of growing crops and maintaining them.
6. Unrecovered Covid losses
Though covid has not affected most of the farmers, few of them were terribly hit by covid. The spoilage, unharvested crops, lockdown and loss had put the farmers into a great debt which is still not recovered
7. Confusion posed by Farm Bills 2020
Farmers are protesting at one place and at other places, there are farmers who are happy about the Farm bills. In our survey, we identified that the majority of farmers are happy about the farm bills. Yet there were a few farmers who were against it and few who told few aspects of farm bills have to be changed and specified. However, we also got to know that half of the population of farmers are not educated on the farm bills.
8. Non-digitized Farm sector
The farmers in Karnataka are not technologically updated. Few farmers do not even use smartphones. There are very few farmers who use computers or software to manage their business. There are no digital records of the business activities performed by them.
How digitalization can help?
The problem of price fluctuation can be reduced with the help of a digital platform which provides them with the right basis for pricing. With an online platform, it is possible to help farmers directly link to the buyers like any other E-commerce platform. Added to it a farmer can also find inputs online for better prices and compare them to get the best deals. Software can be developed to help farmers learn about different techniques related to both organic and inorganic farming. Technology can be very helpful to farmers to improve their situation if used correctly.
How can we as individuals help farmers?
- Stop bargaining or asking for discounts from small farmers. Make sure you pay a little extra when buying from them. They are not collecting money to build an empire but to meet their needs.
- Buy directly from farmers. Get in touch with your local farmers and buy whatever you need directly from them. By doing this, both of you will be benefited.
- Choose to prepare meals from seasonal produce, so that whatever he grows will be consumed.
- Be more polite and kind when talking to them. They are dealing with a lot of problems which you are not aware of. Speaking kindly will definitely help them better their mental health.
- Suggest them to your neighbours and friends who buy from supermarkets, to buy from small sellers and support them.