Sunday, December 21, 2014

Indian Agriculture -when will it get due attention

Farmers in India have been producing 250 million tonnes of grain, tending the largest livestock number in the world, producing 2nd highest amount of milk in the world yet languishing with an average income of about 6000 rupees. I ask urbanites how many can survive on that income? how can anyone afford to send their kids to school leave alone send them to collage. How is Indian rural economy improve at this rate? Can rural youth remain in rural areas? If they migrate to cities which they are doing, then who will produce food and what will the cost of food be if government has to import food? These are not pretty scenarios. Indian youth need help their rural brothers to uplift them. They dont ask handout but only a hand up.

The Hindu

Published: December 21, 2014 01:52 IST | Updated: December 21, 2014 02:07 IST
More than 50% of farm households in debt
Rukmini S.
NSSO survey across 35000 family units

Nearly 90 per cent of India’s farmers have less than two hectares of land, according to the most extensive survey of farm households to date conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). The survey says the average farm household makes less than Rs. 6,500 a month from all sources of income.

The NSSO released the findings from its 70th Situation of Agricultural Households in India on Saturday. The new survey was for the agricultural year 2012­13 and covered 35,000 households. For this survey, the NSSO defined an agricultural household as one in which at least one member was self­employed in agriculture (even if part­time) and which produced at least Rs 3,000 worth of agricultural produce in a year.

By this definition, 58 per cent of rural households are agricultural households. “While some of the rest could be doing non­farm work, a significant number work exclusively as agricultural labourers, which the NSSO did not count,” an official from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation explained, asking not to be quoted as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Over half of all agricultural households are in debt; and 42 per cent of them owe money to banks and 26 per cent owe moneylenders. Over 40 per cent of agricultural households have Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) job cards, showing that even those households not classified as ‘labourers’ utilise the scheme.

One in three farm households has less than 0.4 hectares of land and less than 0.5 per cent are large farmers, having over 10 hectares of land. Large farmers are often absentee landlords, the data indicates; 54 per cent of farmers with over 10 hectares possess land in other states.

Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe farm households were over­represented among the poorest classes with the smallest land holdings, the data showed. Large farmers were almost exclusively OBC or forward caste.

While wheat is the most commonly grown crop in the first half of the year, paddy growing dominates the second half, the data shows. In both seasons, however, sugarcane is the most profitable crop, giving its cultivator an average of over Rs 80,000 per season.

Private traders dominate the procurement space, and few farmers have enough information about Minimum Support Prices or report getting the MSP for their produce, the data shows.

Rural Suicides- Impact on rural economy what you can do

Rural Suicide is becoming more and more prevalent all around the world. In India over 19000 farmers have committed suicide. This has not just an impact on the farmer per se but also permanently damages the family members, other dependents on the farmer such as extended family, rural businesses and due to loss of buying power the local kirana shop too.

What can educated people do to stop this?

1. Go to your local village and talk to local panchayat. Show them what options are avialable.
2. Lobby the rural banks and ensure they are part of the banking process. 
3. Train groups of farmers in financial literacy- show them how to open a bank account, save some part of their income in a bank, show them what is interest etc. Rural farmers dont trust banks.
4. Show farmers how to save for retirement or old age or poor health
5. If you have doctor friends encourage to go to rural areas and check blood pressure, eye check ups and blood sugar levels of farming families. Even if you rescue 1 family then that family will have better health.
6. Get a group of your friends and take them to a relaxing village tour. Take a tent and picnic basket and ask your friends to stay in a farm and realx. Pay the farmers some money and show them there is a capacity for alternative income.
7. Take a bunch of children and show them rural life for a day. Pay the farmers family with money or take a bag of rice with you.
8. Encourage children to participate in rice bucket challenge.
9. Take a bunch of families from your building and go to a near by village and show them how there is a connect between what they do in a city and impact on village.
10. Raise some money to build a toilet, a resting area or a compost tip in a rural area.

Think Think Think as to how to help your farmer brothers and sisters. Without them you don't have food.

19,483 farmers ended lives in State in 10 yrs

Dec 21, 2014, Belagavi, Dhns:

 Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said that as many as 19,483 farmers have committed suicide in the last 10 years in the State.
In a written reply to a question by JD(S) MLA Gopalaiah in the Assembly, he said among the total 19,483 deaths, only 2,414 were reported to the Agriculture department, as per the statistics provided by the National Crime Record Bureau.

Among 2,414 suicides, 1,231 cases have been found eligible for compensation by the government, he said. Stating that the number of suicides had come down since 2007-08, he said steps have been taken to make agriculture cost-effective by providing seeds and agriculture implements at concessional rates. Byregowda said in 2006-07, the number of suicides stood at 176, which shot up to 182 in 2007-08. 

The number of deaths came down to 156 in 2008-09 and it further came down to 146 in 2009-10 and in 2013-14, the number of deaths was 58.
DH News Service

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Rural India and Mental Health

Time again we see on TV and hear in news that a farmer committed suicide. Everyone assumes that is is some kind of a financial trouble and thereby the farmer committed suicide. India is a country which prides itself in family values and family supporting each other. Yet the social hierarchy of that exists in the society and family does not provide any room for issues such as mental health and the way it affects rural families.

Men in rural areas as supposed to be the achievers and darling of parents eye. This means every  man has to achieve beyond his capability otherwise he will be subject of ridiculed or undermined. This means if something goes wrong like a crop failure it is not taken as environmental failure but as failure of the man. So there is no going beyond that. Men who are then conditioned to believe that they need to be successful all the time and everything needs to be handed on a platter are suddenly faced with the humiliating situation of having to be unsuccessful and ask for handouts. In view of this scenario I have attempted to write about Mental Health so that it shines a light on this issue which exists in rural areas as much as in urban areas. Please understand and help people.

Mental Illness- Depression

The day you walk in other's shoe is the day you can judge them.


In India, mental illness is generally either ignored or dismissed either due to a notion that it is a western or affluent country disease. Most Indians with mental illness go untreated, especially in poor and rural areas. “There is a huge treatment gap for people with depression,” said Dr. Vikram Patel a psychiatrist of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1). In large a population study conducted among urban south Indians, depression has been estimated at about 15% (2). Among rural poor a study done by The Princeton University showed that 7-28% of the men and 30-46% of the women reported at least one sign/symptom of depression (3).

Among the farmers, rates of suicide is on the increase with Andhra Pradesh itself reporting 17,500 farmers committing suicide between 2002-2006 and At least 160,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997. Studies have shown that situation is similar in Karnataka (4). Although there are many causes for farmers committing suicide predominantly financial, depression could lead to a situation where a farmer or his family can not see a solution for their problem or seek help to solve the problem or have the capacity to function on a day to day basis.

Most urban people associate mental illness especially depression with poverty and lack of education and therefore assume that it does not happen in well educated, wealthy families. This is not true. Depression is there among all castes, classes, urban or rural, rich or poor. Since social stigma is attached most of the mental illnesses, it is neither recognized nor treated and at best it is hidden or mocked. It is a hidden destroyer of a family, society and a country. The effects of depression can be reduced through medical help. Depression will not just go away. You can not just hope that it will disappear. No one deserves to have depression or any form of mental illness due to their birth caste or family situation.

So what is depression?

Depression is not just a bad mood or irritability or erratic behavior or violent behavior or stupid behavior. It is an illness just like any long term illness. Those who suffer from depression usually are normal people who work as farmers, lawyers, accountants, doctors, bus drivers etc. But they find it difficult to function everyday. Depression can cause serious health problems in the body along with that of mind. Depression can not be suppressed. It needs medical help.

How do we know of a person is depressed or just sad for a short time?

1. If the person feels sad for a long time - for weeks or months.
2. Has no interest in social activities or mixing with family and friends.
3. Stops going out of home.
4. Does not do things properly at work, not having concentration.
5. Drinks too much every time there is a problem
6. Do not enjoy any activity which they used to
7. Constantly moody and irritable
8. May end up taking drugs either illegal such as ganja, chakras etc or legal sleeping pills etc. and mixing with bad company of people.
9. Is violent towards family and children - beating, kicking, verbally abusing, screaming, putting people down etc.
10. Works excessively without spending any time in social activities. Does not want to go home.
11. Could start doing destructive things such as breaking things at home or work, creating "accidents"etc.

What are the words depressed people use in conversations ?

1. I can never do anything correctly
2. I fail at everything anyway
3. Good things don’t come to me
4. No one cares about me
5. Who wants to live?
6. I always make mistakes
7. Life is not worth living

Note the words never, everything, no one. These are words which say everything is permanent and can't change. This is not true as things do change and can change. But depressed people do not see solutions to their problems. They see all problems as permanent. Therefore they generally tell lies to people to cover up their depression and withdraw from society.

How to depressed people feel most of the time?

Just like depressed people see their problems as permanent, they also are constantly struggling to feel good but can not do that. They mostly feel as follows for long periods of time:

1. Everything from outside their capacity is controlling their lives.
2. They can't control anything in their lives.
3. They get irritated for small things.
4. They get angry quickly if they can not get results
5. They feel they can not do things properly anyway
6. They are sad
7. They cry unnecessarily
8. They can not decide and everything is difficult
9. They are angry at others for not meeting their expectations
10. They expect everyone to "obey" them and agree with their thinking.
11. They think work will solve their mental problems without trying to solve the real problems.
12. They do not make decisions, do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others.

Please note: Generally people exhibit these behaviors sometimes but it does not mean to say they are depressed.

How does a depressed person feel physically?

1. Tired all the time
2. Gets sick most of the time
3. Has headaches and muscle aches (even without doing physical work)
4. Has anxious feeling in the stomach
5. Does not want to eat properly
6. Does not sleep properly-either too little or too much
7. They either gain excessive weight or lose a lot of weight quickly.

Please note: These symptoms are seen in where people have physical illnesses also.

What are the causes of depression?

1. Family conflict or lack of happy family memebers with in the family.
2. Loneliness (not the same as just being alone)
3. Not having a job for a long time to earn money
4. Having a permanent illness-mental or physical
5. Having family memebers with permanent illness.
7. Drinking liquor or taking illegal drugs
8. Having a family memebers with depression
9. Lack of social support and help
10.Disasters such as fires, flood, earthquake etc. destroying homes, family memebers and community.
11.Poverty (although poverty causes depression, not all poor people are depressed).  
12. Lack of support from the society.

When you see a family member/friend is seen with possible depression what should you do?

1. Talk to them gently. Encourage them gradually to talk about their problems. Do not make judgments as you are not in their situation or their mental state. Learn to understand their point of view whether you agree with it or not. It is not about you it is about them.

2. Don't blame the depressed person or their family for the way a depressed person feels and don't dismiss their feelings. Elderly, very young and poor are not equipped to open up their feelings easily due to their social conditioning. Do not treat them like a burden. Depression can happen to anyone anytime triggered due to different situations.

3. Don't expect a depressed person to listen to you and change their behavior immediately just because you are an elderly person advising them. This type of social conditioning in countries such as India does not help younger people to openly talk to older people to seek help. A depressed person may not be in a state of mind to think in a logical manner. A depressed may not trust you to open unto you. You may not be in a position to help them directly either. Seek other memebers of the family for help/advice discretely. Encourage them to sit and talk to a family memebers they trust or had relied upon in the past.

4. Learn to treat a depressed person with respect and dignity as you would any other person. They have an illness. They do not need pity or mocking. They need your support, kindness and understanding. Learn to seek their permission in a manner appropriate to their age prior to getting outside help. Do not discuss in a family or a social group or work group openly.

5. Don't make them feel foolish or stupid. Don't tell them it will go away. Learn to listen not just hear. Don't try to "fix " the problem. Learn to help them to develop solutions. Ask questions to help them rather than giving "instant" answers. You will not have all the answers to their problems or issues. Do not pry into their personal life without gently asking their permission first.

6. Poverty is only one cause of depression. Giving money to them may not solve the underlying problem. Help them to seek access to financial literacy or seek access to banks and other financial organizations.

7. Encourage them to develop a social network within the family and outside the family.

8. Create situations such as family outings for example, sitting and having a family meal in a park to encourage them to go out.

9. Ensure that a depressed person goes out for short walks during daylight preferably during early mornings. Being in low light at home for long periods of time could lead to some depression especially in elderly due to their limitation in mobility.

10. Encourage them to develop hobbies, go the gym or do outdoor exercises or farmer’s fares local agricultural shows etc. where they meet like minded people. Encourage them to meditate and do yoga if they can.

11. Encourage them to stop drinking alcohol/taking drugs by finding out the root cause of their drinking/drug taking. Drinking/drug taking is an additive behavior. It will not stop immediately so encourage them to divert their attention to reduce their levels of drinking.

12. Encourage them to seek medical help. Do not force them as it will not help them. Give them the support they need. In Bangalore NIMHANS has counseling facilities. Take family counseling if needed. It is as important as for the depressed person and the family to take counseling to help one another.

13. If medications are prescribed, encourage them to take medications regularly and ensure that they do not stop taking them abruptly. Talk to their doctor and develop an understanding your self. Ignoring treatment of depression due to social stigma may lead to serious consequences for the depressed person which includes suicide.

14. If counseling is not affordable or accessible, talk to the local doctor and seek ways of helping the person. There may be options such as an elderly person in the village, or the family with skills to talk to people, local teacher or a priest that the person trusts who could be requested to talk to the depressed person in a discrete dignified manner.

15. Do not exclude them from family activities due to social stigma or your inability to "manage" them. If you are not a family member provide information to the family member who looks after the depressed person to assist them.


A depressed person can function effectively and even achieve at high levels in their field of work if they are given the right understanding support and treatment if needed.

A country, a society and a family does not benefit from ignoring depression amongst itself. For example, if every one of the 160,000 farmers who committed suicide were living today, they would be producing food grain, vegetables, and livestock for India and export markets.

Governmental organizations can only do so much. Every village, farmer, society, community needs to take an active part in developing effective and efficient work and home environment.

Food production system growth in India which will allow farming sector to thrive as much as manufacturing and information technology, textile etc.

Security of food production is critical to the security of a nation as food is the key to good health, productivity and growth of a nation. As the farm production increases, farmers can spend more money for their health, food and wellbeing. This can only benefit everyone.


This article has been written in the interest of the Indian agricultural and associated communities. The author does not claim having conducted any original work in this area not claims medical expertise. This is only to bring awareness to all especially for the farming sector.


2. Poongothai S, Pradeepa R, Ganesan A, Mohan V (2009) Prevalence of Depression in a Large Urban South Indian Population — The Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study (Cures – 70). PLoS ONE 4(9): e7185. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007185

More Reading

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Make in India - Do we need to keep making it and wasting it?

Prime Minster Mister Narendra Modi has been calling for world businesses to Make in India to encourage them to manufacture in India. This is good to attract investment from foreign businesses in India. However I wonder if this is is really that beneficial to India when much of what is made in India is wasted. A case in point is the subsidies given to rural areas without much thought to the logistics of how these subsidies are used. An article recently in Krishi Jagaran has highlighted that over 8500 crore rupees of money is being wasted in subsidies. I can tell you that the cost is much more than that. Why? Let us look at Urea itself. Urea is one of the few fertilizers that is manufactured and it consumes fuel to manufacture Urea. This means cost of fuel needs to be included in the waste. Next the cost of transportation needs to be included too. However major waste occurs due to the excessive and inappropriate placement of Urea due to broadcast method of distribution of urea on soils. Studies have shown that depending on the soil types over 30-40% of urea runoff into waterways without benefitting the plants/crops in anyway. However this runoff causes pollution of the precious waterways and cause algal blooms and create problems for microfauna and organisms in the water. This also breeds undesirable bacteria. When cattle or humans consume this water, they get sick too. So the cost of excessive use of Urea does not stop to just 8500 crore at all.
Government also has asked for Urea consumption to be brought down. It would be good to do that but increasing prices will stop the subsistence farmer from using Urea. Therefore the only way to reduce consumption is by conducting soil test each year, assessing how much urea is required for the crop the farmer intends to sow and deciding on how much Urea subsidy the farmer requires. This will reduce consumption, save government lot of money and things made in India will not go to waste but can be exported to earn revenue for the government. There is no magic wand.
India need to urgently stop wasting food and all the agricultural commodities. Only then Make in India will turn into Made In India becoming much more useful and much more productive. 

Government And Farmers Are Together ‘Wastefully’ Spending Over Rs 8,500 Crore On Urea: Economic Survey

December 8, 2014
KJ News: Fertiliser subsidy paid to the companies has declined by about 41 per cent to Rs 21,300 crore as against Rs 36,000 crore paid in the corresponding period the previous financial year. It may be noted that the government had increased the total fertiliser subsidy in the July budget at Rs 72,970.30 crore for the entire 2014-15 fiscal from Rs 67,970 crore proposed in the Interim Budget.
While the subsidy is fixed by the government in case of phosphate and potassic (P&K) fertilisers like Muriate of Potash (MoP) and Di-ammonia phosphate (DAP), companies are free to decide prices for others. In case of urea, a controlled commodity, the retail price is fixed at Rs 5,360 per tonne, and the difference between the cost of production/imported price is paid as subsidy to the companies.
The Department of Fertilizers (DoF)  had enough funds in the subsidy account but the payments were delayed as it took time to evaluate the fairness of P&K fertiliser prices.
The Economic Survey 2013-14 pointed out that the government and farmers are together ‘wastefully’ spending over Rs 8,500 crore on urea, as it is highly subsidised soil nutrient and therefore used instead of P&K fertilisers. MRP of urea and NPK fertilisers was to be so fixed as to promote balanced fertiliser use. Urea MRP was to be re-determined every six months, and those of NPK fertilisers adjusted to provide the NPK balance. Post decontrol, subsidy was to be given only to small and marginal farmers.
Following, which the government had asked the industry to suggest ways to bring down urea consumption that has resulted into a huge subsidy bill besides affecting soil health.
Subsidies on Fertilizer 
(In carores of Rupees)
Indigenous(urea) Fertilise
Imported (urea) Fertilise
Sales of decontrolled fertilizer with concession to farmers
Total Fertilizer Subsidy


Monday, June 30, 2014

India needs innovation

Time again we hear IT companies India boasting of its founders who made gazillion zillions. Yet most of these companies are servicing western countries. Yes they are creating jobs in India but they are contributing only about 5% to the economy while non IT industries such as agriculture are contributing to over 22%. agriculture in India has the potential to contribute even more by Indian IT graduates developing apps and tools for every day farmer. The following tools as I see it are required. I dont have the skills to develop them however I am throwing my ideas open to people to use for public good in India. Please let your fellow men/women with IT skills know.

1. Mobiles which wholly work in the local language preferably smart phones- if China has it why not India?
2. Kannada software written in Linux etc which will make it open domain.-for use in all computers
3. A cheap tablet costing less than rupees 1000.
4. Water monitoring in soils to reduce cost of irrigation- cheap tensio meters
5. Solar powered homes in all villages-forget coal and water driven projects
6. Online business training in local language for rural youth. Italians Germans French everyone have local language universities and India is behaving as a British colony even today by having all its technology in English. why?????
7. Online university for all to get proper degrees- no restriction on caste creed reservation
8. Pens that are able to capture written information and connect to a tablet to transfer information
10. WiFi freely available to everyone which transmits through the walls with kinetic energy stored in the double walls due to heating and cooling in the bricks.
11. Apps which help farmers to choose new varieties for high production in each local region provided in local language
13. Fertilizer apps where a farmer can put in figures and get information as to how much of fertilizer can be used per acre rather than excess
14. Apps which show IPM ie Integrated Pest Management strategy for each region
15. Apps to provide English training to rural youth in their language -ie an Indian Babel
16. Apps to provide basic education for illiterate farmers by training in alphabets to writing basic sentences

So here is the challenge for you all. If you care about India and if you have any skills in computer language coding then start the work.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Agriculture-What should PM Modi do now?

Indian agriculture contributes about 22% to its economy while manufacturing just above and IT about 5%. Agriculture has been languishing on the sidelines as farmers neither have the collective lobby nor the education and capacity to negotiate with the government like the western farmers do. Urban population and rural population are hardly connected except when farmers commit suicide or when onion prices go up. Successive govts have played the "aaam admi" card and have pretended to help the poor farmers. 

But their thinking need to change. Mr. Modi needs to turn the popular thinking on its head. He needs to stop treating farmers as a collective poor. Farming is an industry just like IT or manufacturing. PM Modi needs to start treating it similar to a small business. He should stop all the SOPS and subsidies. Restructure farming sector to enable it to grow as below. 

Provide incentives for following.
1. Soil testing and using appropriate levels of fertilizers.
2. Integrated Pest Managment strategy for use of chemcials.
3. Use of drip irrigation and fertigation.
4. Use of controlled traffic, minimum tillage rather than deep ripping of soils.
5. Control of weeds through mulching and soil rotation
6. Use of organic matter into soils
7. reducing use of synthetic nitrogen and using legumes to ass biological nitrogen
8. Managing waterways and rivers properly and not let fertilizers and rubbish getting into the rivers causing contamination.

Every farm should be registered as a small business. They needed to be provided with subsidized insurance, tax structure and market based crop growing and management. There should not be any subsides for fertilizer use but only subsidies for soil testing and training.

All irrigation should be made mandatory to do at night. Irrigation should be linked to soil sensors and excess of water usage should be stopped. Farmers should be provided with training for running the farm like a small business. India does not need more farmers it needs farm productivity without increasing land use. Proper use of fertilizers and water will save costs and water too.

If PM Modi treats Agriculture with respect and as an industry he can get the growth going and really help the rural economy to grow. Will he do so?


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Indian Farmers and Elections

Indian farmers have always been iconic in Indian elections ever since Independence. When India got independence from the British rule, Prime minister Nehru had to develop the country which was nearly bankrupt, un and under educated by and large, stripped of nearly all cottage industries and with an economy in tatters. Today 2 days prior to elections in India I am writing this blog  to show how farmers can help themselves and other people can help farmers in various ways to make them successful. 

When British left India, Indian economy which was contributing over 22% to global economy was left in tatters contributing only 3% to the global economy. Noted late economist Angus Maddison's book clearly shows shows this. Indian grain was diverted to the world war 2 effort by Churchill and Amrathya Sen has estimated that over 3 million people died of famine related issues during the Bengal Famine in India yet Churchill did not allow Australian grain to come to India. All documented facts if one wants to Google it and buy books on these topics. However I will not go into this as that is the past. Today farming sector is contributing 22% to the Indian economy. If done well it can contribute even more. Much more.

Since independence what happened to the dream of Gandhi who said India lives in its villages? Political party after political party of all colors and hues exploited and are exploiting Indian farmers in all manner and keep them deliberately poor to gain votes. They offer subsidies which help them in no way as documentation is in English and so extensive they need to do a degree to understand it. Most farmers do not have the money to consult either a lawyer or an accountant to understand all the legalities of  the loans or procedures etc. Do they have the time to run between their farms and cities? Over 52% of the Indian population is in the rural areas. With all the so called help farmers are getting, farmers are increasingly committing suicide and killing themselves and their families.

The city folk see news items and think farmers are being helped. In this blog page I have written what farmers need to do to become successful. Each of you who reads this blog post can help one farmer and help them from reading English documents to taking the samples to the lab or talking on their behalf to an agronomist or helping them in any way possible. 

Step by Step Guide to successful farming

1. Irrespective of the land area, get the soil tested. I have put in addresses of the places where soil testing can be done In Bangalore in this blog elsewhere. Start with University of Agriculture in Bangalore or Dharwad. Dig 10cm of your soil from the top of the field and collect samples once every 10 meters. Mix the soil collected in a bucket and place it in a plastic clean bag. Give it to a soil lab to get it tested. You will need to pay to get the test done.

2. Consult a good agronomist to check what fertilizers should be put in for which crop. Assess good and correct use of fertilizers. For eg., excess use of nitrogen leads to diseases in rice, "lazy" legumes which do not fix biological nitrogen, cloving/splitting of bulbs and possibly bolting in onions-all these lead to lower yields per acre. Do not use fertilizers just because govt gives subsidies. Over 40% of excess nitrogen flows into river water or water table and contaminates water with nitrates and bacteria.

3. Next choose the crop which you are familiar with and which has a high market price. Ask the agronomist to find out the market price locally. Do not grow crops you do not know anything about.

4. If you are in a drought affected area, choose crops which use low water.

5. Do land rotation by planting high cost crops and low cost crops to reduce risk. For eg., use high cost legumes with low cost crop suited to your area in your rotation each year. For e.g., if you have 5 acres of land, use 3 acres for high cost crop and 2 acres for a low cost crop. This means risk is minimized each year even if one crop fails other one will get some money and not lose the whole money. Soil rotation will also break the disease cycle in soils and reduce use of chemicals in a natural way.

6. Diversify your farm. Treat it like a business where you have 2 crops, livestock etc. These days organic produce is getting higher price. Look at what possibilities are there for organic farming. If it is not possible to do so value add to your business.

7. Few farmers in one village or taluk or hobli can start a value added co-operatives especially if they are close to cities. Open a simple business, talk to farmers in your area and develop a business to deliver fresh produce to the cities. For eg., if you grow beans, go talk to an onion grower in the area or a milk producer or a butcher etc. Deliver these items every week to nearby homes. City people especially younger IT people will love this as it is fresh and delivered to their door. Go talk to IT firms if they will give you a contract. Even if you are not a farmer but in rural area you can do this. Majority of farmers in western countries operate this way.

8. If you want, develop farmers co-operative privately in a rural area. They may not attract tax. Ensure each farmer grows profitable crop and shares in the profit.

9. Don't do things just to get a subsidy. Do not add excess fertilizers as it will not increase yield but decrease yield if too much and destroy the land.

10. I have put other farmers experiences in this blog site to show how people are doing in these areas. use other people's ideas.

11. Check seed germination yourself. This is how you can do it before you sow them in the ground. Take 3 plastic plates, place some news paper cut sheet in each one. Put 25 seeds you bought from the shop in each of the plates. Add a small spoonful of water. make sure the seed and paper gets moist. Keep it moist each day by adding few drops of water. Count the seeds which germinate (molake) on 2 days and 4 days. If they do not germinate even after 4-5 days take it back to the shop and ask them to exchange it. Use seed with government marking to get good quality seed.

12. Treat your farm like a small business. Talk to your fellow farmers, go to Krishimelas, see govt programs, work co-operatively with other farmers. Be united to achieve profits for all.

13. Learn to use computers. They have lot of videos and information on farming. Learn new techniques from others. Understand the world climate is changing. Learn how it is going to impact on your area. As the agronomist or a Agriculture Scientist in your area. Attend workshops.

14. Do not take unnecessary loans on the land. If you lose the farm you will lose your income.

Farming is difficult even in best situations so dont take unnecessary risks. Good luck.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rural Education- An Inspirational School

Rural Education- Bachehalli Doddi School, 
An inspiration to the world.

What can one say about remote village school in Karnataka, India? Not much at the best of times. Nestled in a corner of the world among small hillocks and swaying green trees where land is dry and challenging at the best of times, winding dirt paths of no particular name or description lead to Bachehalli Doddi. Bachehalli Doddi, is a non-descript village of about 100 people, with no claim to fame, houses mostly laborers working on the farm land situated about 40 km from Doddamaduvadi, Kanakapura Taluk, Karnataka, India. The people do not even own a piece of land to their name. One can't expect much here by any stretch of the imagination.
A small hillock near Doddamaduwadi, Kanakapura Taluk, Ramanagara District, Karnataka State, India near where Bachehalli Doddi village is located.

The School

Travel closer to the village and visit the school and your entire paradigm of thinking gets turned on its head. Here lies the school which can inspire anyone who is interested in rural education all over the world. I had the unique opportunity to visit this school few months ago due to generosity of members of Scared Trust, a small non profit trust run by Dr. Vasudev. I will let picture speak for themselves along with my narrative.

Bachehalli Doddi has developed its school,a government school with little or no resources, hardly visited by politicians and has about 120 students. The school teachers are inspiration in themselves. I met Mr. Dhanajaya who is one of the teachers of the school and Mr. Suresh the President of the village panchayat (village governance body) who are the main architects of this inspirational school. The teachers and the village panchayat have taken a strong proactive step towards recognizing the children of the village as their future. Mr. Dhanajaya and his cohorts scout the internet for various ideas, find local resources, raise money from the parents and the villager panchayat and implement projects. No dearth of good ideas here.

This school is a model of how parents, teachers, village panchayat when working together can take the future of their children in their own hands, (not leave it for any government or the minister to decide) and do the extraordinary task of educating their children and prepare them for the mianstream modern India. I met three young boys who have now completed year 10 from the school which has been an achievement of the school. These young people are aspirational youth of the future of India. They aspire to go to the university and educate themselves. The major question is who is there to assist them to achieve their aims. Yes much of the policy is written on papers however if the family does not have the capability to send a child to Bangalore how can they do that? Education may be free in a far away place however not all are capable of staying in those places. Majority of the young men and women of India have an additional responsibility of being the earners for the family too. Unlike their counterparts in the urban areas they can not leave their villages where their laboring incomes or labor in the fields can not be sacrificed by their parents and family.

Over 52% of the Indian population is in the rural areas and majority of these are youth and they need a vehicle for their interests and aspirations. Indian government is catering to the urban youth but not to the rural youth and this will create problems in the future. Rural youth education needs tailored locally adaptable rural solutions not urban dictated policies and irrelevant schemes to pretend to provide non existent employment.

Bachehalli Doddi School is one example of how the village is catering to the aspiration and talent of its students and with its limited resources trying to encourage talent of the students. Gandhi said that Indian heart beats in the villages of India. Yes Bachehalli Doddi is one such village where the heart beat is strong, intelligence is high and initiative is even higher. As you enter the school you will be astounded by the cleanliness of the school. Walk further into the school you will be encountering number of paintings on the brick compound wall of the school.
School Entrance adorned with painting of
Indian Independence fighters

Walking into the school one can't but notice
the oasis of cleanliness

Kitchen to be proud of with local artistic murals
painted by the children of the school

Yoga Mural painted by students of the school

School Hall with village scene paintings

The Environment

Students portraying a very strong environmental message to show how carbon dioxide emissions are polluting

Composting of school waste by the students

Drip Irrigation of garden

Recycling of water bottles to grow plants

Rain water harvesting from the roof tops 
to water garden and use it for general purposes

Modern Teaching - at its heart

The teachers conduct question and answer sessions each week on a Friday. The concept is to help all children to ask questions and to develop their curiosity for learning. Students can ask questions and place them in a question box. This allows the most timid of the students not to fall behind in learning. The teachers answer their questions.

Question box for Question and Answer sessions by the student-teachers each Friday

Mr. Dhanjaya (left) and Mr Suresh (Village Panchayat President, right)- Inspired Leaders

This computer center was donated by The Sacred Trust which has been educating children of the rural villages in Kanakapura taluk with computers donated by various MNCs and these computers are put to good use as The Scared Trust employs 3 teachers under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Vasudev and these teachers travel to each of the centers and teach kids and have summer camps etc which allow every village child to take opportunity to learn how use computers for word processing, Excel spreadsheet, photoshopping etc. This extraordinary school did not have any UPS for managing the problem of power cuts. However now it has been addressed.
Computer center donated by The Scared Trust with Mr. Narayana a computer teacher

Audacity of Hope

What was so inspiring was these people from such as small community not only understand the value of education, but save up their money to raise funds to buy books and pencils etc for children and then fund the activities of the school to encourage their children. 

They do not whinge about class sizes and electronic gadgets. They dont wait for government or NGO handouts. They do not protest in the streets of Bangalore for better facilities, they do not beg anyone for anything. These proud self sufficient people are making the most of all the resources they have, add value to these resources through contributions both money and in kind and put in their sweat-equity and have supported the teachers. They have only sought handup.

The village Panchayat leader is only educated up to year 7 however he has no shortage of intelligence to understand that the children of the village are the future of the country and they need to be part of the growing mainstream economy of India. He has supported the teachers in their efforts fully. These kids no doubt will one day contribute significantly to India and perhaps the world. 

In my mind just by doing what it is doing, Bachehalli Doddi and its school have contributed to the world. Here in lies the "Audacity of Hope" President Barack Obama talks about. The inspired leadership of the youth of India President Abdul Kalam speaks about is alive here. 

May the tribe of these courageous villagers who take their future in their hands and inspire their children, village increase. I for one is very proud of their achievements among such adversity.