It is rightly said, “The soul of India rests in its villages.” During my four years of B.Sc. (Agriculture) degree programme, we studied Rural Agriculture Work Experience (RAWE) as one of our papers. In this paper, we had to stay in a village for a few months to observe the life of farmers, their daily farm routine and problems faced by them. We were scared: how would a bunch of urban dwellers survive in villages, where there is no electricity, no full-time water supply, and no means of entertainment?
Nidashoshi is a small village with around 8,000 villagers. It is located in Hukkeri taluk in the Belagavi district of Karnataka. Sankeshwar is the nearest town to the village. Farming is the main occupation of these villagers. Their community consists of big, small and marginal farmers, as well as landless labourers. We reached Nidashoshi village in the afternoon, where a big hall on the first floor in the backyard of a temple was allotted for our stay.
Every day after breakfast, we used to visit the village area and after our brief introduction, we’d ask them about their farm activities and problems. There was a farmer who owned a big sugarcane field and pan orchard. When he’d started the pan cultivation, it was very profitable, but after three years, due to insect attacks, the quality of leaves deteriorated. We collected the leaf samples for further analysis. We visited his sugarcane fields that were infested by root borers.
In the backyard of the garden, he had also made a compost pit. Later, he took us to his house. He introduced his family members and offered us to sit on his cot. His mother offered us fresh curd milk, dates and papaya to eat. We hesitated, how could we accept all these things? We were four and it must be cost-effective for them. They understood our hesitation and told us that these were their own farm produce and they had plenty of them. His mother said they used to share vegetables, fruits and other farm produce with their neighbours.
It was afternoon when we reached a small hut in the same village. We enquired whether anyone was inside, when a young man, followed by his mother, appeared on the gate. “Yes, please come in. It’s very hot outside, please come in,” they said. When we entered the hut, we could see two plates with roti, salt and a few flakes of onion on the floor. Perhaps, they were about to start their lunch.
When we enquired about their family, the son replied that his father died 10 years ago. They did not have their own land and were daily wage labourers. He asked whether the government had any schemes for daily wage labourers. He wanted to know if the government could offer them any help if they wish to purchase their own land. He wanted to work on his own land.
They offered us water. They asked us whether we had had our lunch and we replied in negative. They asked us if we would like to have lunch with them. We were stunned to see these kind-hearted people, who did not even have proper food for themselves, offering us food. I said thank you but knowing their condition, I denied. His mother replied, “We have shared our grief with you people. In the same way, we want to share our food also.”
That day we realised, happiness is best served when shared.