Give back to food growers on whom our lives depend

TENS of thousands of Indian farmers have been gathering near the national capital in the last few weeks to protest against new agricultural laws. At the root of their anger is the distrust of market reforms. They fear losing their already dwindling incomes and their lands. And today, on Kisan Diwas or National Farmers’ Day they are hoping for a breakthrough in talks with the lawmakers.

Farmers from Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the country believe that these new reforms are likely to make it easier for corporations to exploit them and other agricultural workers. These laws will directly impact nearly 480 million Indians who depend on agriculture for their livelihood. 

Kisan Diwas 2020

Kisan Diwas is celebrated annually on December 23, the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister and Kisan leader Chaudhary Charan Singh. He was able to bring all the farmers together against landlords and moneylenders and enforced the Zamindari Abolition Act. Singh also introduced many policies in favour of farmers such as the Agricultural Produce Market Bill meant to guard the welfare of farmers against the exploitation of dealers.

Making ends meet gets harder
Nearly 68% of workers in India depend on farms and related activities to generate income. Yet farming only accounts for 15% of India’s GDP. Factors like poor infrastructure, lack of modernization and declining productivity have hampered progress for long. 

Farmers in India

The incomes from farming have been shrinking and so are the size of agricultural plots. The middlemen continue to eat away most of the income leaving farmers with meagre sums that barely recover production costs, let alone profits. An astounding number of farmers have killed themselves in the last few decades due to crop failure or inability to repay loans taken from landlords, moneylenders and banks.

Dharm Raj Kohar, a 43-year-old farmer owns 2.5 acres of land in Chinnoli village, Haryana. He also rents another 2.5 acres for ₹15,000 a year and has taken a bank loan of ₹300,000 to build his house. Last year, he spent ₹40,000 to grow wheat and sorghum, but the returns he got amounted to only ₹37,000. Each year, he has to pay ₹21,000 to the bank as interest and is not able to clear the loan. Kohar is one among millions of farmers who struggle to make ends meet.

Sadly, Indian farmers receive just 10% to 23% of the price consumers pay for the produce. Our farmers toil every day to make sure we have food on our plates – while so many of them and their families have to go hungry. As per government data, the decline in farm incomes has forced 9 million people to quit farming between 2001 and 2011, to become agricultural labourers.

Help the poorest farmer families 

Farmers are the lifeblood of an agrarian country that India is. What affects our farmers affects the whole nation and each of us. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been protesting at the capital’s borders, braving the harsh cold winter and the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope there is a happy resolution at the earliest.

Women farmers of India

Let’s support and celebrate India’s annadatas, food growers, on this Kisan Diwas Day and donate online to ensure the farmers and their families prosper. Your donation will be used to increase their household incomes, to provide skills training for rural households to become self-sufficient over time, to provide clean drinking water and safe sanitation and offer scholarships to meritorious rural students to study further.

You can donate to this fundraiser here. Each donation will make a lasting impact on the lives of a farmer’s family.

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