Thursday 31 January 2019

Farmers Water drought and Government aid

The central government has been kind enough to grant about 4700 crores to Maharashtra in India as drought relief.  The state had asked for about 7200 crores.  As aid given to farmers is presumed to cover bare neccessities only, the amount can be safely doubled if we have to ensure a reasonable dignity of living which may come to about 15k crores.

Maharashtra has about 11 million hectares under sugar cane cultivation which is extremely water intensive and has produced about 8 million tonnes of sugar per year.

How did we reach these high production figures.  Sugar cane is a good crop for farmers as it is quite weather proof and the buyers(mill owners) are assured, that too at government controlled prices.  This led to further improvements in agriculture and the seeds which led to bumper harvests which exceeded the demand and  there were no takers for the surplus. Consequently farmers went unpaid and led to hardship!!!

To put this in perspective we need to look at sugar statistics.   A tonne of sugar fetches about 15k for a farmer so the 8 million produced would fetch about 12,000 crores for the farmer.  As it seems that is less than what the farmer needs to be paid for just a reasonable level of dignity in living.

Then what is the point in this high production figures.  They are sucking up all our water resources and not even giving any ROI (return on investment) to our farmers.  Won't it be saner to import sugar (like advanced nations) and let our farmers grow more sustainable agriculture like paddy, vegetables etc. This not only saves our water but also ensures that a farmer never starves as even in the worst condition he can live off his own produce.  The importance of agriculture cannot be more emphasized. Of course, the people at the present sugar factories also need to be taken care of so that their lives are not affected.

Two of the largest importers in the world at No 1 and No 3 are China and United States respectively.

Why they are not growing their own??? Think of it!!

Disclaimer - the Statistics quoted by me may not be accurate - but accurate statistics about sugar cane are not my point - My point is - How do we save water for ourselves and our future generations!!

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