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Farmers In Bihar Have Been Struggling Since Before The Pandemic. Here’s Why. 

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According to The Bihar Economic Survey (2019-2020), agriculture supports the livelihood of three-fourth of the population of Bihar, the reason being 85% of the people live in rural areas and do not have access to other opportunities that require more skilled workers. On analysing this data closely, we can infer that the government must have spent a lot of money in this sector. Well, this we’ll find out further.

The History Of The Agricultural Roadmap Of Bihar

Let’s have a brief look over the programmes that the Bihar government initiated under its agricultural roadmap.

  • The first agricultural roadmap came up between (2008-2012).  Bihar achieved the highest rice production of 81 lakh metric tonnes in 2011-12 and was awarded the Krishi Karman Award.
  • The two-phase agricultural roadmap (2012-17 and 2017-22) focused on food security, the income of the farmers, nutrition, conservation of natural resources and so on.
  • And the third agricultural roadmap was launched by President Ram Nath Kovind that is the Bihar Krishi Roadmap (2017-22) that allocated rupees 1.54 lakh crores to the agricultural sector.

In 2013, Bihar ranked 74th in the Global Hunger Index even when Bihar achieved the highest rice production in 2011-12. Allocation of huge amounts and production of food grains in such a huge number builds up a lot of questions in the mind when headlines such as how an 11-year-old died of hunger in Mushahar Tola of Patna district or how an 8-year-old died of hunger in the Bhojpur district of Bihar during the lockdown.

Moreover, it’s not just about the production but the consumption by the people as well. According to an article by The Wire, the presence of arsenic and other metals was discovered in food grains exposing people to various health issues and even cancer.

The Bihar government came up with a lot of programmes under the Agricultural Road Map for the development of important factors such as the crops, irrigation facilities, fishers, dairy and livestock that would be taken into consideration and will be given due importance. However, a programme can only be successful with proper implementation and a genuine and successful reach to the people.

The adoption of new technology is a hurdle for farmers who aren’t very skilled or have enough knowledge as to how to operate. The contribution of monsoon flood and residual factors along with unorganised and unsystematic methods of marketing and development creates a lot of trouble as well.

 

Image source: Here.

The landholdings in Bihar are usually divided into two categories:-

  • Size-based division 
  • Gender-based division 

The major source of income for the people of Bihar comes from agriculture, forestry and fishing. With the data given above, we can very well understand the differences, for example, the concentration of average size of the landholding did not change over the previous years (2010-2011) and the concentration of land for the female workers was comparatively less than the male workers. Only the average size per holding was little more for the females.

The PM-Kisan Scheme, a central sector scheme that provides income support of 6,000 rupees per year, only had 26% of the registration while Uttar Pradesh with 23.82 million farmers had the registration of 73% farmers.

The forms are available online on the official website of pmkisan.gov.in but our representatives should also keep this thing in mind that not all farmers have the knowledge to use computers or have access to the internet. Moreover, the verification process, the time it takes and the complications in the entire procedure don’t make a policy effective and useful at all.

Another reality of the fund’s allocation cited by the Agriculture Ministry is that the funds promised under the scheme take so much time that in districts of Bihar such as Kishanganj, Araria only 3,200 and 2,600 farmers got their third installment. The conclusion is that a complex and time taking process is the biggest hurdle for the farmers.

The pandemic made the situation of farmers and migrant workers worse. The farmers couldn’t go out in the field due to lockdown and the parts of Bihar that experienced flood made the lives of each individual miserable. The crops got destroyed, some got washed away and others submerged in water. Millions in Bihar lost their livelihood.

Not all farmers are rich. Not all farmers have tractors and money to buy the essentials they need for their land for farming. Meanwhile, the load of clearance of loans and the abuse faced by farmers for growing food for us is taken so lightly by people that the word grateful for being able to have those fresh vegetables, pulses and grains in the kitchen seems very ordinary but it isn’t. Farmers are the backbone of our economy and they deserve a lot.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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