The vanishing land beneath their feet
‘The poor are reeling from rising costs’
‘No one bothers about four lakh farmers committing suicide’
With the compensation money, Pushpabai of Akpuri village,Vidarbha, paid her husband’s debt to the moneylender but not the bank. Devarajula Latha of Chilpuru village, Telangana: Her husband, who was a tenant farmer, did not own land. So she is still waiting for compensation as the rules make it difficult to link tenant farmers’ suicides to the agrarian distress. Savita of Borgaon village, Vidarbha: She had to struggle to get the compensation money as both the land and the loan were in her mother-in-law’s name. Manjubai of Son Wadhona village, Vidharba: Debts remain even after death. Manjubai used the compensation money to pay the private moneylenders from whom her husband had taken loans. Bocha Manisha, of Gauraya Palle village, Telangana: Both her parents committed suicide. Later, her grandmother too passed away. She now works to support herself and her younger brother.
PC: Vijay S. Lodha
From fields of despair – a march with hope
On March 12, Azad Maidan in south Mumbai is an ocean of red flags and caps, when tens of thousands of farmers from across Maharashtra gathered peacefully after a week-long march from Nashik. They have walked for roughly 80 hours in the blistering heat since March 6 – to be seen and heard by the state government. On this last day of the morcha and protest, they are exhausted. But still, slogans are chanted and solidarity cemented. It’s their call to a government that has consistently and heartlessly denied their demands, their rights. Shankar Kishan Gaikwad (left) and Balu Chimna Bhagul (right) of Chikadi village, Surgana taluka in Nashik district. They made a tent as protection from the afternoon heat at the maidan, after walking for 180 kilometres from Nashik to Mumbai. With the hope that the government agrees to their long-standing demands – including fair prices for crops, land titles, and sustainable pensions Farmers sitting in the blazing heat at Azad Maidan, listening to speeches by leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha, which organised this milestone march. They put together ‘hats’ made of the cardboard boxes used to store bottled water, which was being distributed at the maidan An old farmer sits in the afternoon sun, drowsy with the heat and dust A group of women cultivators just past the grassy area of the maidan – the police sit there too, quietly, listening to their conversations with reporters Yuvraj Ganpat Gaikwad shows me his cracked feet caked with dust. He, along with tens of thousands of other cultivators, has walked from Nashik to Mumbai to fight for his rights as a farmer The Kisan Sabha flag wrapped around a bamboo pole. A farmer wraps his hands around the pole for support as he listens to speeches at Azad Maidan A massive pandal was created at the maidan to provide a sheltered space to sit and listen to the speeches. Many were waving flags and placards and shouting slogans A group of young women with placards, wearing the same colours as the flag. The emblem on the flag was also on their saree borders Ujjwala Vasant Waghmare with a flag, along with Ratna Ashok Jadhav in a colourful saree, and Kalabai Bhagwan Sonawane with a shawl wrapped around her head. The woman furthest in the photograph is Lakshmibai Ramdas Gangude. All of them are from Rajderwadi village in Nashik district’s Chandvad taluka. They were demanding electricity, ration cards, pension for their elders and land in their name. They were sitting at the maidan, talking, resting, listening to the speeches, their luggage arranged around them Farmers at the maidan, where work on the metro rail is underway; a crane from the project site is in the background, not far from the municipal corporation building. While a part of Mumbai surges ahead, flush with funds and infrastructure projects, farmers in the countryside are desperately seeking support from the government, asking for what is rightfully theirs Farmers sitting in rapt attention under the massive tent-like structure, listening to speeches A farmer takes a selfie, before he leaves to return to Nashik, to commemorate this historic day. A farmer shares a bench with his compatriots, his bright pink shirt speckled with stars Farmers gather around with their belongings on their head as they get ready to leave by the night train to Nashik
PC: Binaifer Bharucha
Discontent and Determination in Delhi
On September 5, around 300,000 farmers and workers gathered at a landmark rally in the capital to reiterate their demands, including land titles and better wages – signalling a growing resolve to secure their rights Raju Choudhary has come from Bargaon village in Sonbarsa block of Bihar’s Saharsa district. He is a mid-day meal worker in a primary school in the village where he and his wife, Anita Devi, 30, make food for 300 students every day. “We are paid only Rs. 1,200 each per month,” he says. His demand is for a monthly salary of Rs. 18,000. Farmers, workers and agricultural labourers from several states of India marched to Parliament Street in Delhi on September 5, 2018 for the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally called by the All India Kisan Sabha, the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, and the All India Agricultural Workers Union. Farmers from Haryana waiting near Ramlila Maidan to start their three-kilometre march to Parliament Street. A labourer helps his wife pin the protest rally badge. Decoration amid discontent: a farmer applied mehendi a day before the rally. A farmer from Bihar in the tent at Ramlila Maidan on September 4, 2018. Parvatibai Gavli and Shivaji Gavli have come from the Pimpri Markanda village in Kalwan taluka of Nashik district in Maharashtra. They want the government to implement the Swaminathan Commission recommendation of a minimum support price for crops: “We are being asked to sell onions at Rs. 7 per kilo. For the past six months we haven’t sold any onions.” ASHA workers from Mahabubnagar district of Telangana sang songs in Telugu and spoke of their demands Chabu Pawar, a farmer from Kalamdare village in Chandvad taluka of Nashik district in Maharashtra wants ownership of the land he cultivates. Several mid-day meal workers from the villages of Seoni district in Madhya Pradesh are here demanding better wages. At the end of the rally, workers listening to speeches by union leaders on Parliament Street. A member of the Kerala Water Authority Employees Union marches with his union flag draped around his shoulders.
PC: Sanket Jain
Zer Nathi Aapvu
Resolve of an organic farmer to not to poison her/his farm, humans and nature. Inspired by the deep love for mother nature, commitment and the struggles of the organic farmers. Written for the organic farming campaign of Gujarat. Let us make our food chain and this planet poison free.
The Farmers who keep Democracy Alive
People’s Archive of Rural India speak to farmers who participated in the long march to Mumbai in anger over being repeatedly betrayed by the State. They shared their struggles, urgent demands and even hopes with them. They also talk to P. Sainath about why this event was a milestone in Indian history.
‘Green Revolution’ Trapping India’s Farmers In Debt
As the world’s population surges, the international community faces a pressing problem: How will it feed everybody?
Until recently, people thought India had an answer. Farmers in the state of Punjab abandoned traditional farming methods in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the national program called the “Green Revolution,” backed by advisers from the U.S. and other countries. Indian farmers started growing crops the American way — with chemicals, high-yield seeds and irrigation.
Since then, India has gone from importing grain like a beggar, to often exporting it. But studies show the Green Revolution is heading for collapse.
The problem is, nobody has yet perfected a farming system that produces high yields, makes a good living for farm families, protects and enhances the environment — and still produces good, affordable food.