Translated from Tamil by Nisha Felicita
The widespread fear and panic brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic has changed the course of world history. The impact of this virus has terrified the world’s population and forced them to live under strict lockdown. Not only has it affected people’s health, it has also affected the global economy to a great extent. Many have lost their jobs, businesses are shutting down and marginalised groups and the poor have been the worst hit during this time.
Farmers across the world have incurred great losses and have been forced to take even more loans. In Tamil Nadu, too, where there are more than 220,000 cases, farmers are suffering.
Mrs Lakshmi, a farmer, has to sell her harvest locally due to lack of transport facilities.
Mrs. Lakshmi, a farmer living in the Perumal Hill village in Kodaikanal in Dindigul district, shares her experience, “We have been farming for the last ten years, where we have been farming by compensating and considering the imminent loss that we may anyway incur in agriculture. But now we have been forced into a very unique problem in agriculture since the onset of this pandemic.
Usually, we plow the farmland before we start farming with the machinery and cows and then plant crops. However, in the present scenario we are unable to cultivate the farmland due to the lack of transport facilities in the lockdown. Farming is the only source of sustenance and food for us and we have to continue farming to survive. In a situation where we do not have land plowing machines and cows, we have plowed the land ourselves instead of using cows and machinery.”
A traditional ploughing tool
Explaining the predicament further, she says, “We cannot even go out to buy fertiliser. The growth of the plants has been very low because we couldn’t provide the necessary fertilisers. Due to low growth, we have very less harvest.”
“Even the harvest that we had, we couldn’t send to the distributors because there is no transport. This means we have to sell the crops locally for a much lower price, so we basically can’t even earn decent money for the hard work we have put in. It’s not just us, all farmers who have been relying on agriculture have been affected, the pandemic has put us all in a terrible situation.”, she explains tearfully, adding that she’s worried how long this will last and how it will affect them in the coming months.
Farmers collecting beans from a farm.
Another farmer, Mrs. Pushpamery is also facing a similar problem, “My family and I have been farming for the last few years and we depend on agriculture for income. Due to the disease, we haven’t been able to farm properly and even get access to transport. We still have no other option than to continue farming to meet our daily needs.”
Telling me how she thinks they will manage the situation in her family, she adds, “This disease has turned our lives into a difficult puzzle. We don’t know how we will be able to transport or sell the harvest we have on hand and support ourselves and those who are dependent on us.”
Whenever a farmer faces a problem, it should be taken seriously, because farmers feed India. If farmers suffer, the production of food will be greatly reduced and we will all suffer from food shortage. What are we going to do to recover from all this? Agriculture is the lifeline of every nation, how will we preserve that?
The Government needs to make a clear plan of action to help the farmers of India recover from this crisis. As citizens we need to protect them, raise our voices for them; without them India will be facing another big crisis.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.
This article was first published in Youth Ki Awaaz