Monday, December 28, 2009

“How to increase the income of small and marginal farmers of India”

An innovative project on
“How to increase the income of small and marginal farmers of India”

India is an agricultural country. About 70% of Indian populations are either farmers or involved in some agricultural related activities and still they are dependent on agriculture for their bread and butter. Of these, about 70% are small and marginal farmers with small and marginal holdings. Small and marginal farmers grow staple crops for their food needs. They don’t have large landholdings to increase their income by pursing commercial farming. Now question is how do they increase their income with their small land holdings? They can’t increase their land area or acres. However we wish to increase their income in current situations. These two things are contrary and look difficult to achieve together. But we know ‘there is will there is way’ and we can help them in such contradictory situations if we desire to do so.
The global warming has also affected the crops in many ways e.g. by changed rain timings and quantity. So they are facing irrigation problem and their crops are devastating. Indian farmers are under danger and we have to mitigate it. Plants and trees are the natural pills and the simplest obvious cure without any side effect. If farmers take pledge to grow threes then they can reduce the effect of global warming to a greater effect. To achieve this mission, farmers need large land holdings and small farmers’ land is not even sufficient to grow staple food to meet their food need. Then where do they cultivate plants? We have to find the solution of this problem.
In the light of above explained situation, our main issue is the availability of lands for plantation. We have the solution of this problem. The farmers can plant on the “boundaries” of their lands. In India, lands holdings of farmers are divided into small shapes of different sizes. Each boundary is clearly located for each land in revenue land records. In absence of these boundaries disputes arises. To avoid any such conflict, it is mandatory for the revenue department officials to demarcate each boundary line of every plot or land very clearly in accordance with revenue manual. To make and to give shape to the boundaries, boundaries are made of soils. Boundaries made of soil also help in irrigating the crops grown on the land. These boundaries are not used for any purpose. Thus, these boundaries are the right place for plantations in the current circumstances. It is empirically proved that on boundaries we can plant without affecting the regular crop yields. There are a variety of plants and trees which ripe in 6-7 years and give a handsome money to the farmers when they sell it. Its maintenance is easy. This initiative of the farmers will reduce the affect of the global warming and it will increase the income of small and marginal farmers. And it will also improve the economic conditions of more than 50% Indian farmers. Theses 50% farmers are backbone of Indian economy. In turn, we can say this project will make Indian economic backbone strong.
The next step is how to implement this project. This is the most difficult part of the whole idea. On implementation part, we have to be very cautious otherwise its fate would be same as we met in the past in all such types of projects. The main steps in this project:
1. How to make it farmers project: In each village we have to provide/give some basic information and knowledge about the project. Though most of the farmers are having expertise how to grow trees but updating them, and telling new and modern techniques of plantations will help a lot in making the project successful. Above all, we have to convince the farmers how they will earn money and how they will become rich without any additional inputs, financial burden and investment. We will tell them that government is doing fix deposit in your name with a minor difference- it is in kind not in cash. What they require is time investment and care. Time investment is not a problem with Indian farmers. They have plenty of time to invest. To accomplish this we have to train them properly at block level and in turn they will train other villagers as per the need. At the village level, we will develop volunteers out of these trained farmers and they will serve as employees of the project in that village. If we were able to convince the farmers that it is their fix deposit with 6-7 years maturity period and in this period their money will become 200 times. The project will be 100% success because they will find it their own project rather than regarding it as government project. The money of fixed deposit will be given by the government in the form of training, know-how, updating and free plants supply.
2. We have to supply the plants free or at very nominal cost just to make them feel its importance. It may be if they get free then they don’t realize its value. We can do this very easily. At block level, with the help of some farmers, we need to develop one or more plants nurseries according to requirements. We will collect demands of different types of plants of farmers’ village wise. For this, we can get land voluntarily or on rent with the big farmers. Seeds are highly cheap. The technical person to grow nurseries, we will get from different sources e.g. private nurseries, trained and experienced gardeners and retired personnel from horticulture and forest department at district level. One main feature will be that we will get many devoted farmer volunteers without any difficulty at all levels. Based on my field experience, I am sure they will involve happily as volunteer. To save it form governments administrative jargons and corruptions, it should be implemented by NGOs under the direct supervision of Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDMs) with the help of local horticulture and forest officers and personals who will act as per the direction of SDM. In this way, we will involve the SDMs in developmental activities. The main roles of SDM will be to coordinate, monitor and facilitate in order to get the desired results in collaborations with NGOs and farmers. This will be a new approach with the direct involvement of the most effective officers of the field. This will be a trend breaking as SDMs are not directly involved in developmental activities in some state like UP.
3. In this multi-year project to start with it should be implemented in a block in the first year. After getting success in a block we should implement in all blocks of a district in the second year. And after the success in the district it can be implanted in whole state in the third year. One more option is that it could be started from the most backward districts to reduce the cost.
4. In my opinion, this project has the same potential like Bangladesh micro financing project which got noble prize as it is a public (Janta) project. Here public refers all farmers excluding the richer and the richest who constitute about the 70% of Indian population.
5. One main reason of failure of projects is that beneficiaries (clients) don’t able to appreciate the benefits for which it is designed. As a result, they don’t regard it as their own project. Rather they regard that government (principal) has imposed on them. If we analyze we find that principal- client effect is the main cause of the failure of the projects. The alignment of project provider and beneficiaries are not the same. So, projects don’t get due place and importance in the mind of the beneficiaries. In this project the main point which is addressed is how to make it a public project instead of government projects. To make farmers think it their own and to take its ownership.
Above is the very brief outline of the projects. The detail project will lead to a very minute documentation of each step who will do what and how. To get the support of local officials we have to collaborate with the government of India and the state governments.
Yours truly,
Deputy Housing commissioner,
U.P. Housing &Development Board,
Kamla Nagar, Agra (U.P.) INDIA, Mobile: +919412493734
Current location: Pursuing Executive Master of Public Administration at Maxwell School of Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA.
Apartment no. 220; Building No.2; Nob Hill Apartments;
121, Lafayette Road; Syracuse, NY, USA; ZIP -13205
315-395-0291(Mobile) 315-214-5558(Residence)