Agri Business

Facing odds, they plough on gamely

L.N. Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on March 12, 2018

agri-cult

He has a post-graduate degree in Sociology. His sister, after completing her Masters in Computer Application got an offer from an IT company and moved and his brothers, both – engineers, have since settled comfortably in life.

But Mr Muthukumar says he always had an urge to look after agricultural lands. “Even while at high school, I used to accompany my father when he went round the fields. We own 25 acres on which we raise turmeric, sugarcane and tapioca. We also have a coconut grove. After my parents death, I have taken over the management of the property since my brothers are not interested in taking up agriculture as an avocation,” says this youngster, avowing that he earned his degree only to get a suitable bride.

“No girl is willing to marry an agriculturist because they think it is a demeaning job. If the rural populace migrate to the city in search of greener pastures, who will till the lands, grow foodgrains to feed the growing populace?' asks Mr Muthukumar, sounding quite disturbed with the present trend.

He was here at the eighth edition of Young Indians (Yi) Agro Max conclave, where over 300 farmers had converged including handful of youngsters such as Muthukumar.

Besides farming, he is also an LIC agent. “I make some money by way of commission. But it's tough managing the lands. We don't get reliable labour these days,” he added.

A closer understanding as to why people were moving away from agriculture revealed that labour availability coupled with low productivity per farm hand and the spiralling increase in daily wages is said to have made farming an unviable proposition.

“My holding is less than 4 acres and I cultivate onion and maize,' said Mr Balasubramaniam from Namakkal district.

He points out that labour availability for farm work is far and few with women demanding around Rs 200 a day/per worker (for five hours of work including a break for tea and lunch) and men for not less than Rs 300/day/worker.

Besides the acute shortage in farm labour, Mr Balasubramaniam said that huge sums were being expended on fertilisers. “Soil testing is not being done in good chunk of land, so we keep applying fertilisers to increase crop yield levels. The price of farm inputs, particularly fertilisers has seen a phenomenal rise in recent years and there is acute shortage of water as well in Namakkal area,” he said.

Farmers pointed out that the cost of a bag of potash (50 kg) had risen from Rs 237 to more than 600 at present and DAP to over Rs 1,000/bag from around Rs 460- 485 some time back. “And the Government is rationing DAP. This is unfair considering that the requirement will depend on one's holding/ acreage.”

A tapioca farmer from the same belt – Mr Rangaswamy said that growers were not able to get the price determined by the officials at the Uzhavar Sandhai. “Marketing is a problem and we are being exploited. We are not able to recover our cost,” he said , voicing his disgust about owning agricultural lands and not being able to make two-ends meet.

lnr@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 29, 2011

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