We can’t afford aridity in the lives of farmers - GulfToday

We can’t afford aridity in the lives of farmers


Labourers shift wheat crop from a trolley at a wholesale grain market in Chandigarh, India. Reuters

The loaf that we get on our dining tables isn’t a gift from the grocer, but the result of a farmer’s hard work running through days, often hot and sweaty, and often wet and cold.

Election campaigns in some nations can be interesting and educative in many ways. One gets to travel through villages because the majority of the voters live there. It is common knowledge that India lives in the villages. Every time campaigners drive into a village they feel like VIPs because they get all the attention they generally expect during such occasions. It is temporary, but highly enjoyable. The simple residents of villages are great hosts. The warmth is unbelievable and genuine, opposite of what it is in cities.

And a common sight that greets people during these trips to rural areas is that of dozens of farmers working almost in knee-deep water in paddy fields. They work in extremely demanding conditions and for months to grow the rice that thousands of us can’t do without.  

Therefore, one was very upset to read that farmers worldwide receive barely a quarter of what consumers spend at the grocery store, and even less for food consumed outside home. This was reported by a group of researchers last week.

The research found that, on average, farmers receive just 27 per cent of what is paid for foods consumers eat at home.

The already vast proportion of food dollars going to post-farm activities is only likely to increase, the study concluded. It means things are going to get tougher.

Well, farmers’ share has to be a fair one simply because they grow the stuff. Every other company or person involved merely fashion the product. It is really unfortunate that often their share is highly questionable.

There have been seasons when poor harvest led to poor income, which in turn drove debt-ridden farmers to suicide in an Asian country.

More than 17,000 farmers committed suicide in the country in a particular year, according to government figures.

Many of the farmers were pushed into debt after the weakest monsoon in years left fields parched and crops ruined and lives gutted.

It pains to state that we all are a part of a system that is cruel and morally infertile. When it comes to paying the farmers we apply all kinds of logic to justify the amount we decide on. But we display little remorse when millions of dollars are lost in the form of food waste.

Britain throws away half of all the food produced on farms, according to an estimate.

About 20 million tons of food are thrown out each year: equivalent to half of the food import needs for the whole of Africa. Some 16 million tons of this are wasted in homes, shops, restaurants, hotels and food manufacturing. Much of the rest is thought to be destroyed between the farm field and the shop shelf.

The total bill to the nation was once estimated to be more than £20 billion. The issue came to the fore as supermarkets fought off criticism over billions of plastic carrier bags handed out free each year.

A British official said tackling the mountain of food wasted in the country every year would help preserve the environment and go some way towards feeding an expanding global population in the face of unprecedented food shortages.

In a move that illustrated the problem, Japan pledged millions in food aid for Burundi, where malnutrition runs at 44 per cent. The food thrown away in the United Kingdom in a year would meet the equivalent of Burundi’s shortages more than 40 times over.

We don’t mind the waste, but mind giving farmers — parent source — enough to remain healthy. There is only one answer: We have to change.

Related articles