Friday 24 February 2012

Nearly Fifty Percent of the Net Cropped Areas are One Cropped; Ways to Utilize the land Resource

       In the economic review 2006-07, the net cropped area of the state Tripura is more than 4,00,000 hectares and area under one crop or sown once in a year is almost fifty percent of the total net cropped area.
       There is no doubting that this huge tract of lands is utilized for only one crop is due to the lack of assured irrigation facility. A vast tract of lands sown once is none other than inadequacy of utilization of land resource.
       Now, the reality is; rain fed condition is the phenomenon in India and, it is still the pre-dominant condition that covers the huge requirement of Agricultural output in the country.
       Now, it is not possible to radically improve the situation as far as bringing new area under assured irrigation facility even though relentless pursuing has been made by the state or country.
       Whatever, has been achieved in terms of increasing the area under irrigation facility but much improvement in future may not bring any radical change in view of the several intervening conditions which come across in the way of increasing area under assured irrigation zone.
       The best way to deal the situation is; managing the situation within the given harsh reality. Since, farming on rain fed condition is not new and in act common phenomenon so, learning to work within limited resource should be the prime focus and objective oriented.
       The condition should be like that where every water drops matter; farmer should be well equipped to know the basic knowledge of rain water harvesting for utilizing precious water resource during the sensitive period or requirement of rain fed crops.
       Now, coming to the fifty percent of the total net cropped area under one crop zone; one crop means, field remained vacant most of the time in the given year.
       After harvest of crops taken up under the monsoonal rainfall, such water stress land is kept fallow till the next monsoon for cropping.
       Now, what can farmer do after the harvest of kharif crop is to utilize the soil moisture for growing of some other rain fed crops like oilseeds, pulses and other cover crops.
       Through this process, farmers of course many not expect the expected yield of the crops sown but he gets twin mileage from the land otherwise remain barren or fallow after the kharif crop.
      The first is, farmer gets certain yield of oil seeds and pulses from the field second, his soil is better utilized and soil health is improved when leguminous crops are grown.
       In Tripura, the economic review 2006-07 reveals that oil seeds and pulses production is very less due to area coverage under oilseeds and pulses cultivation.
       There may be different suitable factors for increasing the oil seeds and pulses production but amongst such various factors to increase the production of oil seeds and pulses are by utilizing these vast tracts of lands through growing of oil seeds and pulses.
       The state department may initiate the appropriate steps for popularizing this scheme through effective extension mechanisms.
       It is high time, otherwise, some other items would take the lead roles, in this case, state’s dependency on other states for oilseeds and pulses would surmount in future.
  Agritangkol dated 18.02.2012 at 04.00 P.M

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Trending Shift in Agriculture Sector: Plantation Crop is Most Desired Activity

       There was an issue of property settlement between two siblings in rural Tripura, place is of course not mentioned here due to privacy reason, the parents were to empower their two sons with equal share of available land.
      The land under possession was of two categories 1. Plain land suitable for farming and 2. Tilla or high land which used to be kept as fallow in the recent past.
       One sibling informed his wishes for taking the possession of Tilla Land or High Land sacrificing his share of valuable plain land.
       The aforementioned typical situation has happened due to many socio-economical changes in rural Tripura. It was the outcome of such radical changes that this shift in interest for tilla land over plain farm land has taken the shape in the mind of the people in general.
       If the settlement was to happen one decade ago, there would have been outcry for plain farm land and there would not be any takers for tilla land at that time.
       It was not as if the farming during that period was very profitable but the fact is; at that time there was no awareness or knowledge of utilizing the land resource that is tilla land.
       Now, the importance of tilla land is proven fact, people already has the sweet success utilizing tilla land in plantation crop particularly with Rubber.
       This has happened due to popularization rubber plantation in the state. Profit earned from a hectare of rubber plantation is manifold high when compared to one hector plain land farming.
       Naturally, there has been a demand for tilla land for plantation crop like rubber in most of the areas of the state.
       This shift of Agriculture farming to plantation crops has happened due to profitability factor. Now, farming is under critical juncture of existence. Well to do farmers, who holds farm lands and grow different food crops and other have slowly stopped their farming (direct) involvement.
       Now, what these once prominent farmers do is; they give on lease to the other non possessor of farm land for growing crops, what the owners get is half of the total produced by the non-possessor of land.
     Means, whatever has been produced has been shared equally both by the farm land owner and growers of that particular crop. This is particularly observed incase of plain farm land meant for paddy. Here, the objective of the farm owner is; he/she get food grain to meet his yearly requirement.
       As mentioned, the changing shift from Agriculture farming to plantation crops, another factor that also influenced this trendy situation is socio-economic improvement incase of certain once established farmers.
        The farm which has pushed the socio-economic level of once established farmer that is; on the basis of farm income, youth of that particular farm family has been educated and finally employed.
      Once, the present generation secures his/her future, they leave their fathers erstwhile farming profession. What happens to the farmers at the end is; the aged farmers look after the farm as long as he/she is able physically and mentally but after certain time, farm continuity is maintained through subsistence type by giving seasonal lease base as mentioned.
       The affect of such leasing is the competitiveness of farm declines once the responsibility is handed over to the others. No variety and new augmentation takes place, finally whole farming becomes non-profitable and lastly abandoned in one sense.
       Now, the reason for people opting out for plantation crop are; plantation crop which may require more investment during early part but once, harvesting starts; recurring expenditure on plantation crop reduces.
       Secondly, with the increase of age of plantation to the harvesting stage, maintenance becomes easy. Thirdly, profitability from the plantation crop is huge when compared to the agricultural crops as mentioned.
       Here, of course, plantation crop means rubber; it is rubber which has created craziness in the mind of the people of Tripura. This non-fruit / non-food plantation crop is the centre of attraction and making the wave in Tripura.
       So, here is the plantation crop which would be making this wave until such times when field crops and Agricultural farming in general are able to compete with the level playing field in the state.
                                       Agritangkol dated 18.02.2012 at 03.45 P.M

Monday 20 February 2012

Farm implements for Agriculture: Need of the hour in labour crunched Area.

       In Tripura, more than fifty percent of total populations are directly or indirectly involved in Agriculture sector.
      However, gross state domestic product of the state is not up to the mark due to several factors; one amongst the factor that affected in the growth of gross state domestic product is agriculture sector.
       Agriculture sector is not performing efficiently or performing in the expected level due to several reasons one amongst them is labour shortage in agriculture sector in certain agriculture dominant areas of the state.
      Farm labour shortage in agriculture sector is due to socio-economic changes and also various populist schemes of the Government.
       At present, there are several schemes for improving the livelihood of rural people like; MGNREGA, which assures certain yearly wage employment to the rural poor.
       In addition, there are schemes like supplying rice, flour and atta in subsidized rate.
       The positive side of all these populist schemes is assured wage employment so is sure cash which helped them to lift subsidized rice, flour and atta with at ease.
       The other sides of the populist schemes are; rural folk who otherwise would primary employ themselves to the agriculture sector have shifted their focus on these assured schemes and other non-agricultural activities. There is also growing tendencies for overlooking the farming works.
       This has affected farmers’ directly; timely labour employment for farming operation has become very difficult and if ascertained also, farmers have to employ farm labours in increased wages. This has affected over all farm productivity and profitability.
       Now, the burden of farm labour shortage has been highly affected the farmers for his farm continuity and profitability.
       The best way to deal with the situation may be through mechanizing the farm through improved farm implements.
       Of course, some kinds of mechanism are already in place like power tiller, weeder, rice transplanter, paddy harvestor and thrasher.
       But, all these facilities in place are still in the early stage of adoption as far as their mass usage and utilities are concerned.
       It is expected that in the days to come, the farm labour scenario would not improve; in this case, going alternative option by means of farm implements would only be the choice of option.
       It is already experienced through power tiller a kind of farm implements for tillage operation that it can reduce the time of field operation quite significantly.
    It is generally believed that though power tiller, field preparation that is tillage operation can be completed within couple of hour’s time in case of first tillage however, by second tillage, time requirement is further reduced due to softness of first tilt field.
       However, another complains that is heard whispering is; depth at which field is tilt through power tiller is not adequate. Farmers who are used to bullock pulled ploughing are little apprehensive on the power tiller efficiency due to non-adequate reaching of power tiller blade to the desired depth.
       However, power tiller popularity has fairly taken a grip in the state but, the time has come for more powerful and efficient farm implements for increasing farming activities in the state.
       In other agriculture pre-dominant state some progressive farmers have already sided with heavy farm machinery like tractor, combined harvester etc for bringing more efficiency in farm operations and farm productivity.
       However, present farming scenario of the state does not suits for all these heavy farm implements looking to the size of farm holding and cropping activities.
       But, some of the farm implements as indicated above had already given some sigh reliefs to the farmers facing difficulties on farm labour shortage. Farm implements like tractor would be highly suitable in some plain areas and farm labour starved condition.
      Tractor, it can reduce the dependency of bullock pulled ploughing and also farm labours to a great extent and brings efficiency in terms of timely operation and reduces the total farm labour requirement.
       Tractor, the farm implements could be playing multiply roles as far as tillage operation and tractor mounted water pump operation are concerned.
       However, another side of the story is; how affordable is our farmers for such heavy farm implements? Can they afford to purchase tractor?
       In the present farming perspective, there would be hardly any farmers who can afford to purchase tractor solely for his / her farm operation. That is due to the  economic condition of farmers and  its limited utility in the small land holding.
       The situation is; in one side there is requirement for farm implements but in other side, economic condition of farmers is not in the position to afford to purchase such farm implements.
       The other factors that come in the way is; total land holding of the farmers. The average land holding of the farmers of the state is within one hector in majority cases which will not sustain year long utility of tractor if purchased by the farmers.
       The best way to deal with the situation is; Government intervention or co-operative like movements of farmers for achieving this farm implement objectives.
       The state department of agriculture being the sole authority in the field of agriculture to work in the farm endeavor should know the depression relating to every aspect of agriculture sector.
       On the basis of region specific analysis, the department should explore the possibilities for intervening in the situation through a regulated system of tractor service purely on rent basis on such regions or places as the situation demands.
       The other way round to explore the situation is; it is the farmers of the specific areas to form a group to realize the situation and take a proper stock in the situation favoring the farming prospective.
       The farmers must realize the situation, their potentialities in dealing with situation. They should be well aware of the future challenge and how to tackle them for bringing favor in their farming future.
       Means; farmers can cope the situation by forming co-operative like body with an objective to ensure the farm implements are handy to them. With this objective, they can meet their demand for farm implement through contribution by every co-operative member.
       In this case, there will not much burden on their pockets for availing this costly and heavy farm implement facility.
       The next phase of operation and maintenance will be based on the co-operative regulation laid down on consensus by every member.
       The time for acting on the changed environment becomes imminent otherwise coping with the prevailing situation would be Herculean task by an individual farmer.
                                      Agritangkol dated 17.02.2012 at 05.49 P.M