Saturday 7 July 2012

Will support price mechanism help to rescue the rice farming?

An account of the rice farmer; it is his statement on rice farming on his own land and in his area once dominated by farming activities. The place is not far away from the capital city Agartala.
  The farmers with a family members of three owns the below mentioned quantum of land:-
1. Total land: - 11.50 Kani
            a. Two cropped land: - 4 Kani
            b. One cropped land: - 3 Kani
            c. Tilla land: - 3 Kani
            d. Homestead land: - 1 Kani
            e. Farm pond: - 0.5 Kani
   What the farmer is doing during this khariff the main cropping season of the state are as follows:-
            1. Total land: - 10 Kani
            a. Two cropped land: - 4 Kani
            i. Given on crop lease:- 3 Kani
            ii. Given on rent:- 1 Kani
            b. One cropped land: - 3 Kani
            i. Given on crop lease:- 2 Kani
            ii. Growing own crop: - 1 Kani
            c. Tilla land: - 3 Kani
           i. Tilla land is maintained for the purpose of Bamboo and other                                           forest tree. This is to ensure his requirement for fire wood,                       cane and bamboo.
            d. Homestead land: - 1 Kani
            i. Houses: - 17 Guntas
            ii. Homestead garden: - 3 Guntas
            e. Farm pond: - 0.5 Kani
          i. This is maintained for daily water requirement for household                                works and also fishery activities.
    What he narrated about the rice farming in particular and agriculture in general is; farming is no longer a remunerative profession.
  Of this, rice farming has become a loss making activities which people just compelled to continue for staple need of the family.
   This year he has given most of his fertile land on crop lease because, cultivation of rice is no longer viable in his area due to shortage of farm labour, low production in the unit area and low price of rice in the market.
  Giving the land on crop lease has also become a matter of concern because there are hardly any takers for growing crops due to low price of rice in the local market. For a farmer to give land on crop lease to somebody would also require certain amount of investment.
   But in return what he gets is; few quintals of rice for family need. Now, once prominent farmers are struggling to maintain their cultivable land due to present farming scenario.
   Now the land owner has to supply fertilizer and cost of initial field preparation to the person who has agreed to grow crop on his land with the condition that the total yield would be divided into two equal parts.
   There are even instances, where land owner just to keep his land under cropping gives his land for a just 1.20 quintals of rice per kani  per cropping season where the farmer would have obtained the yield of 6.40 to 8.00 quintals of rice per kani per crop.
  Farmer stated that the present rate of wages of farm labour is quite high as indicated below:-
a.       Male:- Rs.300 per man-day
b.      Female:- Rs.220 per man-day
Whereas, the existing price of rice is as follows:-
a. Rs.260-300 per 0.4 quintals
   Farmer feels that rice farming would be remunerative if it gets good market price in the range of Rs.400 to Rs.500 per 0.4 quintals of rice. But, getting this price at this prevailing market condition would be highly unlikely unless state comes out and help in the way of support price.
   But question remains that will the support mechanism help in rescuing the rice farmers? This is because, there are many inter-related variables which are necessary for improving the condition of rice farming.
 This is the generalized feeling  and statement of the concerned farmer.
                                             Agritangkol dated 06.07.2012

Thursday 5 July 2012

Maisui, the Fox tail millet of Tripura: Slowly disappearing with the decline of Shifting Cultivation.

   One traditional dessert item hill including plain would prepare in their household after the harvest of Jhum crop is Maisui Payesh. It is prepared using one kind of minor millet found in hilly areas of Tripura.
    The millet is popularly known as Maisui in Kokborok and Kwan chal in Bengali and Fox Tail Millet probably in English. This is basically grown in Jhum as secondary crop along with other crops. 
    This minor millet how it was introduced in the state was not known but how it is disappearing can be narrated fairly. This traditional Maisui, fox tail millet used to be found during the month of February and March after the harvest of Jhum Crop.
    Of course, production of Maisui was never considerable even in those days due to less area under cultivation and, its frequent usage as mixed crop with the primary Jhum crops. 
    Fox tail millet has limited usages in the state; this millet is mainly used for preparation of Payesh using milk, sugar / Gur and other items. It tastes very well; the size of the grain is almost the size of Suzi a popular wheat product found in the market. 
   But, this year, Maisui has not been spotted in the local market means, maisui is disappearing very rapidly in the state. This disappearance of fox tail millet from the state is due to decline of Jhum Cultivation or shifting cultivation in the state.
 When there is decline of shifting cultivation, then there would bound to be decline of Maisui or fox tail millet production in the state. 
   Jhum or shifting cultivation in the state is declining due to various factors so; Maisui or fox tail millet is taking the toll as it is grown in the Jhum field only. Disappearance of minor millet like Maisui would not make any difference to the people since there’s primary cereal Rice. 
    But, with the loss of this would affect in the diversity and food security in the long rum. It is not only the Maisui the minor millet; there are many local varieties of rice, sesamum, sorghum,chillies,spices and vegetable crops that are also slowly disappearing with the decline of the shifting cultivation.
 These local species needs its proper conservation and preservation; this is highly essential for the future usages.          
                                              Agritangkol dated 04-07-2012

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Monsoon sets in; Rice cultivation in changing Farm scenario of Tripura.

Low Yield and Price but still Rice:

    There’s outcry for rice due to low unit production area and volatile market, fluctuation of price of rice etc. It is almost like loosing battle or loosing interest for rice farming. But, in reality farmers still stick to Rice cultivation and it seems to be the situation of compulsion for rice growing in Tripura.
     Many farmers know only rice, few may know the alternative to the Rice but land situation does not permit them to shift to other crops but to Rice. Rice being the single most dominant cereal crop in the state naturally commands its usual demand for staple need of the people. 
  The state’s total cultivable land is occupied by several crops but it is none other than the rice which constitutes lion share in terms of land occupation in a particular cropping season. There’s changing trend in farming, the change is in conformity with the changing pattern in the present set up of the rural environment.
   The change or transitional scenario in rice cultivation in the changing social-economical condition of rural household primarily farming community is really the matter of farming outlook.

 South-West Monsoon the Deciding Factor:- 

  There’s no doubt that, it’s Rain God, farmers depend for and rely for their cropping endeavor. Having suffered days of intolerable heat/temperature and heat wave, south-west monsoon has finally arrived in the state in the June, 2012.
  With the arrival of south west monsoon, there’s a sense of relieve for all and farmers woe for rain have changed and they become active to utilize the monsoon for Khariff crops.
   Khariff is the main cropping season; mainly because, most of the cultivable lands available in the state are yet to be brought under assured irrigation. Of course, it is not reality too to bring all the cultivable area under assured irrigation.       
  Therefore, it is the objective of the farmers to utilize the monsoon rain most effectively and efficiently. What farmers really want is; farming operation starting from field preparation to the sowing/planting completes within available monsoon season.
    Another fact is; rice being demanding more water naturally creates lot of worries to the farmers.
    In case of rice, it is high time for field preparation, nursery bed preparation, raising seedling and transplanting of rice seedling in the sufficient water level as a result of rainfall. However, most concerning part is changing scenario in Rice cultivation; for that matter, it is same for all farming endeavor. 

Changes in Farm operation:- 

    There’s lot of change in farm operation, these changes are due to circumstantial changes in the rural Tripura. Now, there’s no positive trends as far as maintaining livestock especially cattle.
   What farmers clarify for this is due to lack of fodder or pastoral land which ultimately affects in availability of drought animal. Lack of sufficient drought animals has affected timely field preparation through bullock pulled plough. 
   This situation has led to the augmentation for other alternative and, the new found alternative is Power Tiller. But, again, there’s shortage of Power Tiller or power tiller requirement is less than sufficient. There’s no doubt that it is the power tiller which is tilling the farmers’ field.
   But, is it affordable and available in all farming condition? It is absolutely no; there’s is disparity in terms of total required power tiller as mentioned and it is due to the fact that many small land holding farmers are not able to afford to have owned the power tiller. Small land holding farms have no option but to take the rent of power tiller in per hour basis which is quite high at present. 
    Non-availability of sufficient numbers of animal and mechanical power for tilling the land or farm field operation has resulted negatively in the rice farming of the state. It is because; all these have enhanced the total cost of production of rice which subsequently pushed the farmers in the loss making farming enterprise. 
  There’s also another trends that is observed in the farming areas, few farmers who could afford to maintain few pairs of bullocks is taking the opportunity by hiring their animal power in steep cost.
   Here, also farmers who have no option but choose bullock had to face the severe monetary problem which affected in total cost of cultivation of the given crop. But to carry on with the existing available resources farmers have no but to feel heartfelt agony that starts from field preparation to harvesting of the crop. 

Farm Labor Crisis:-  

      There are also changes in the man power availability in farm sector, there’s shortage of cheap farm labor. Wages for the men and women farm laborers have significantly increased over a period of time.
      Even in the increased wages also getting the farm labor becomes a cause of concern. This is affecting the timely field operation of farmers. Farm labor crisis has forced many farmers to decrease the cropping intensity to greater extent.
 The Possible Option of Enhancement:- 
      The main option left are:- 
      1. Increasing the production, productivity and profitability of the given crop through 
              a) Seed replacement 
             b) Adoption of high yielding verities 
             c) Adoption of Hybrid rice 
             d) Selection of branded varieties for market realization 
             e) Good agronomic practices
              f) SRI method
              g) Balance dose of fertilizer
              h) Farm based organic manure 
              i) Integrated pest management 
             2. Ensuring mechanization through 
              a) Power Tiller
              b) Rice Planter
               c) Rice Thrasher 
               d) Mechanical Weeder 
   The fact of the matter is; rice is going to stay even in the volatile condition of production, productivity and price because, rice is staple food, it is the primary cereal of the people. 
                                             Agritangkol Dated 04-07-2012

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Homestead Garden has changed a lot in Rural Tripura Affecting Nutritional Requirement of Farm Family.

     Decades ago, a well to do farm family of rural Tripura would have balanced set up of different fruit plants to different vegetable crops and spices trees etc in the homestead land. These fruit plats and other spices crops meet up the nutritional requirement and other to a certain extent but this scenario has rapidly changed in recent times. 
   The usual combination of different fruit plants and others that used to be raised by the farmers in their household were as follows:- 
        1. Banana 
        2. Coconut palm 
        3. Areca nut 
        4. Mango 
        5. Jack fruit 
        6. Litchi 
       7. Black pepper crawled over mango tree or Date palm 
        8. Zinger 
        9. Turmeric 
       10. Coriander 
       11. Perennial chilies 
       12. Farm pond for the followings 
             a. Fishery
             b. Duckery 
             c. Irrigation of winter vegetable 
      13. Animal resources of the following 
             a. Bullock 
             b. Milch cow 
             c. Goats 
             d. Hen 
            e. Piggery 
    But, after decades, the total landscape of farm household and homestead garden has totally changed. Now there’s another set up in rural farm household for better or worse but aggressively encroaching the farmers homestead land too. 
    At present the trends are followings: 
       1. All most all fruit plant is encroached by rubber new, rubber is found in the homestead area of the farm house. 
        2. Banana, Mango and other fruit plants have been numbered. 
        3. Animal resource is limited with one or two pairs of cattle 
        4. Goat, duck and local fowl no longer irritates visitors in the rural environment. 
       5. Of course, now, pig has taken a root in the rural environment. 
      6. Date palm, Drumstick in the periphery of farm pond and near catchments became limited. 
    Changes have really been observed socio-economically in the rural environment however, some changes were seemed to be at the cost of the others. 
                                            Agritangkol Dated 03-07-2012