Friday 9 March 2012

JATROPHA: the Local “KERANG” is the bio fuel yielding plant

        I have played with local KERANG but never imagined that it was in fact the JATROPHA, the bio fuel yielding plant. I’ve played with JATROPHA during my childhood days by making air bubble through the latex of JATROPHA stem.
       The difference at that time being the concept of Bio fuel or aspect of Bio fuel and species name was not known to me and others in my area.”
        It was until 2005, the concept of Bio fuel and cultivation of JATROPHA for production of JATROPHA seeds to the purpose of bio fuel etc had been known to me and few others of my area.
        The forest department of Tripura is known to have taken up the issue and created wave by popularizing the concept through plantation of JATROPHA in the forest lands of the state.
         Attention of the people of the state were sought on this new concept, in the recent past, there had been discussion of new concept, the JATROPHA cultivation for profit making.
        JATROPHA, locally known KERANG used to be in the roadside, in the homestead land for some unknown reasons or at best for live fencing however, by the time, this new aspect of Bio fuel through JATROPHA is in the limelight, rural JATROPHA the local KERANG is already in dwindling condition.
       In several areas including in our areas too there is no more JATROPHA; children did not have the chance to play with the KERANG, the Botanical Jatropha as it does not exist any more in most of the other areas too.
        However, the way JATROPHA has created hype in the state and also in the mind of the people did not last long and as it is not reflected in the field level through mass participation and adoption by the people. In our areas, I have not seen JATROPHA coming up in the farmers’ field as well as in forest lands too.
        Whatever may be the news and views around JATROPHA cultivation but in reality it is yet to take off in the state in the expected level.
      Of course, what could be the reason of remorse by the people for not showing desired level of importance and adopting the new aspect are not clarified by any agency either government or other private concern.
       It was promoted that this Bio fuel yielding Plant JATROPHA would be making huge difference in the following ways:
• Rural economy would be improved that is when rural people accept and adopt the JATROPHA cultivation in their land or as the case may be.
• Land, which otherwise remain barren or fallow would be put to use for effective resource utilization thereby earning a good source of income by rural people.
• In general, dependency on fossil fuel would be minimized when bio fuel yielding plant, Jatropha is cultivated in the large scale in field level and produced to the requirement.
        But in spite of all these, JATROPHA remain in the despondency, now, there is no outcry, and no interest to be seen amongst the people on the new concept.
      What was presumed is, any new concept or technique would be taking the root once the following apprehensions are clarified?
• Suitability for cultivation( it is already proven that it is suitable)
• Acceptability by the people
• Profitability of the new concept
• Assured market facility
      Now, what is to be seen is whether the above criteria were analyzed before being tried in mass level for paving the way for the JATROPHA cultivation in the state.
                                           Agritangkol dated 22.02.2012

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Challenges of Paddy Cultivation in Lunga land: Land becoming non productive due to surrounding Rubber plantations and others.

       It is already mentioned that Tripura is a hilly state where more than fifty percent of the total land is under forest. The total geographical area of the state is interspersed with hills, hillock, valley, and plain areas.
       Now the point is; Lunga lying area that is the plain land in between two hills. Lunga used to be a good source of land for paddy cultivation by the people who are housing in the hilly areas. In those areas, it is in the lunga land paddy is cultivated after the onset of monsoon.
       However, decades of human intervention in the natural vegetation and land usage have brought out the various culpable changes in the agrarian state especially in the land like lunga lying areas.
       The affect of drastic changes are prominent in certain areas where there are prevalence of Rubber Plantation (of course, there is no empirical study or data to prove my point of doubting Rubber) and other human influences that has brought out in the drastic changes of certain crop lands of the State.
       This climatic change is observed in most of the lunga lying areas of the state. The area like Rani, Mirza, Tulamura and Tuiwandal have seen this drastic changes which has directly influenced the Rice cropping in once prominently known place by the local people for good Paddy cultivation.
       Incidentally, it is in those areas, there is prevalence of Rubber plantation.

The affect on the lunga lands are:

• In most of the time of the year, most part of the lunga lands remain under the shadow of Rubber trees that is, Sunlight penetration is very less due to obstruction by Rubber tree.
• Prominence shades during the cropping time have negatively influenced the growth of the standing rice crop in the lunga lands, affecting the total productivity of rice crop.
• Similarly, prolong period of shades also attracted several insect pests to thrive in the congenial weather inflicting the standing crop and recurring loss to the farmers.
• During the month of February to March , when Rubber trees sheds all leaves , it falls on the lunga land which was supposed to increase the organic matter content of the soil but it is observed that dried up leaves of Rubber decomposes very slowly rather it is causing obstacle to the crops as felt by the farmers.
• Another observation is; most of the lunga land which by now has been surrounded by Rubber Plantation is dry and barren for most of the time. The land is slowly turning to the fallow land
• Possessor of lunga land has no option but to choose for other crops or convert their lunga land into some other non food crops.
       What can be done to restore the lunga land is the question to be debated by all concerned. Now, the trend is, tilla land owner is not ready to sacrifice his share of land even for a inch thereby ensuring sunlight to fall on the lunga land.
       What they do is; they start rubber plantation by planting Rubber seedlings very close to the lunga land which subsequently became the cause of concern to the lunga land owners due to obstacle of sunlight to fall on the lunga land affecting the crops in the lunga land.
       There is no mechanism to deal; there is no law to deal the situation. It is only the consciousness and humanity of Rubber plantation owners that can rescue the degrading lunga lands in future.
       Of course, in contrast, if the lunga land owners out of frustration start with non-agricultural activities, there is a law to deal the situation. In such cases, possessor would be tried or fined for such illegal endeavor.
       The time has come to think for utility for lunga land for effective land utilization without confronting with the existing established norms of the state.
                                         Agritangkol Dated 20-02-12

Monday 5 March 2012

Farm Labors, Changes in work Culture and Wages: Diversify and Command your Farm

       Well, farm labor shortage has been narrated several times in my earlier posts so, I’ll be covering less of intervening reason of labor shortages rather this is an insight into the changes in farm work culture and wages rates in the rural Tripura.
       Now-a-days, women farm labor employment is becoming very costly due to  shortage due to non-willingness to work in farm and  increased wages.
Wage rate of women farm labor (un-skilled) is rupees two hundred per day and men farm labor! It is speculative and imaginative.
       Some may feel rupees two hundred per day are very less at the time when essential commodities are high in price. But here at rural Tripura, rupees two hundred for women farm labor is quite is high.
     It is owing to the fact that farm now-a-days is becoming non-competitive, profit margin is very less or no profit at all whereas; wages is mounting pressure to many farmers already spiraling under farm crisis due to non-competitiveness of farming.
       In addition, farm labor output is also declining due to changes in work culture exhibited by the farm labors in the rural areas.
       Changes in work culture denotes; the scheduled working hours in the farm in the present context with relation to the situation in the earlier days. Well, the self consciousness, self righteousness and their awakening are fine and welcome worthy but it should not one sided.
       The fact is; the changes should not be at the cost of other. Now, farm works starts at the morning eight to eight thirty and winds up by five afternoons. In between of course, there are several breaks; lunch or rest beaks for the farm labors.
      The result is; the net working hours remains only six to seven hours per day. It is within that short working hours some works related to farm operation is done.
       Farm activities(traditional cropping)is already dwindling, especially farm related to field crops, farm becoming non-competitive and, it is very difficult to continue farming with the present state of condition. Farming at present is continuing with subsistence type where there is no sign of profitability and competitiveness.
       Additionally, this shift in work culture, farm labor shortage and increased wages of farm labor has further pushed the farm to the oblivion from where there is least chance to return with good prospect and competitiveness unless any radical changes comes around.
       To cope up from the ensuing multiple crisis, some farmers tried to get the farm works done on contract basis. That is being done to complete the particular farm operation; specific work or farm operation is given to some farm labors on contract basis based on negotiation without considering the total farm labor requirement and their subsequent total wage involvement.
       Now, what is the way out to continue with farm in the given situation?
       Well, there is already hue and cry whenever there is farm crisis occurring either due to surplus production or crop loss. Many suggest for support price for ensuring farmers gets some relief instead of subjecting their whole produce to rot or sold cheaply.
     There is also persuasion for regulated market, it is to harness the different market realization of different agricultural produce and also, ensuring sufficient storage structure for storing the surplus produce in time.
      These are the certain things that make a movement whenever there is crisis related to farming. And, farmers debt, cry for affordable loan or credit facility are also the given demands for solving the crisis.
       But, the question is; will all these points or demands solve these incurring problems that farmer faces now? The answer may be quite hypothetical as may be to a certain extent.
       Another point is; the whole issues of changes in work culture and increased farm labor wages actually become prominent in absence of unit productivity of the given crops and its subsequent affect in farm profitability.
       Farm labor has the right to demand the increased wages but the fact is; he is least bothered about farm productivity. Wages in the prevailing market condition for essential commodities are hardly excessive or it is less than sufficient but how do you relate this it has nothing with farm productivity as far as farm labor is concerned.
       Well, farm work culture and increased wages are going to stay and expected move upwards in future too but real challenge is farm optimization.
    It is only with the farm optimization though diversified farm activities that competitiveness would come and farmers can command over the farm.
                                             Agritangkol dated 05.03.2012