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Wednesday, September 27, 2023
TELANGANA, INDIA, Sep 11 2023 (IPS) - Even after toiling hard for an entire year, Shivaji Rao, a 37-year-old farmer, would find it hard to cover the basic expenses of his family.
He cultivates maize from his one-and-a-half-acre land in India’s Southern State of Telangana.
Roa told IPS that the prices of fertilisers and seeds in his home state have skyrocketed to the extent that it is herculean to even think of buying them in adequate quantity.
“The changes in climate, on the other hand, is wreaking havoc on poor farmers like us. The untimely rainfall, the drought-like situation coupled with the scarcity of irrigation facilities is leaving us high and dry to the core,” Roa said.
In a remote village of the state called Aseefabad, another farmer, namely Bhagwan Nath, shares a similar predicament.
He says besides farming, he does menial jobs like day labour at some government-sponsored construction sites to make ends meet.
However, the farmer who grows redgram (a type of legume) from a one-acre field says the farming and the daily paid labour aren’t enough to suffice his family’s needs.
“I mean, we have children who deserve better education. I need to send my kids to a good school so that they can get a quality education, but doing so needs money. I am not earning enough,” Bhaghwan told IPS.
There are scores of other farmers in the hamlet sharing the same tale and facing the same ordeal.
Nominally, their monthly incomes do not go beyond a mere 15 to 20 thousand rupees (180-240 USD).
Climate change in the region has been severely affecting the farmers with the late arrival of monsoons and sudden unexpected heat waves occurring.
“This drastic change in the weather pattern damages the crops beyond repair. At times, a year of hard work gets wasted with one single blow of wind. Further, the cost of seeds and fertilisers is adding to our predicament. It is turning us insane,” sighs Shivaji.
As per the government records, the hamlet, during February and March, experienced temperatures higher than the norm.
Typically, elevated temperatures result in increased moisture capacity of the air, often leading to the formation of thunderstorms. The temperatures in the hamlet surpassed 35°C, facilitating the absorption of moisture from the Bay of Bengal, culminating in the development of a depression.
Reports show that over the past decade, the area has encountered unprecedented weather occurrences – believed to be both climate-change-induced and because of rapid urbanisation in the region.
To mitigate the suffering of the farmers of this remote village, a few non-government organisations have visited the farmers, and this resulted in discussions around opportunities for marginalised farmers for self-sustaining livelihood and climate-resilient agricultural practices through community-owned processes.
One of the NGOs mooted the idea of pollution-free poultry farming for these farmers.
Along with other farmers, Roa and Bhagwan enrolled for the program. Each farmer received 40 chicks of the Gramapriya breed, with a mature weight ranging from 1.5 to 2 kilograms. The poultry rearing was environmentally friendly, ensuring that there was no odour emanating from the shed. This approach not only resulted in wholesome meat and eggs for the farmer’s family due to the organic nature of the produce but also generated supplementary income through the sale of organic meat, eggs, and compost derived from the bedding.
The training provided to farmers included instructions on formulating appropriate feed for the chicks, enabling them to be ready for the local market within just four months. One farmer, Bhagwan, has already sold ten birds weighing a total of 18 kilograms, earning an extra income of Rs 5400 (70 USD) at a rate of Rs 300 (4 USD) per kilogram over a span of nine months. Additionally, he has sold 200 eggs at Rs 5 each, resulting in an income of Rs 1000.
Moreover, Bhagwan is implementing a breeding strategy by using local chicks to hatch PFPF eggs, thereby multiplying the poultry population on his PFPF farm.
As a result of this new PFPF initiative, his annual earnings have increased by Rs 6400 (80 USD). In total, Bhagwanath’s annual income has risen from Rs 35,000 to Rs 40,000 (about 420 to 480 USD) within a few months due to these efforts.
Roa says that the poultry he has received has also helped him receive extra income and make a good living.
“Now, I am not entirely dependent upon farming. The poultry is what keeps me hopeful. I am planning to put in extra effort in this business and make a good living out of it.”
Roa says within three months, he has been able to earn more than 50 thousand rupees (700 USD) from selling organic eggs and chicken in the market.
“There is a growing demand for organic food, and people really like what I sell. They are quite responsive to it,” Roa said.
IPS UN Bureau Report
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