In this hundred and fifteenth archive story by Kristian Bertel, we are learning about agriculture and the farmer protests in India. Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
India is an agrarian country with around seventy percent of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture and the country is currently the world's second largest producer of several dry fruits, agriculture-based textile raw materials, roots and tuber crops, pulses, farmed fish, eggs, coconut, sugarcane and numerous vegetables.
India is an agrarian country with around seventy percent of its people depending directly or indirectly upon agriculture and the country is currently the world's second largest producer of several dry fruits, agriculture-based textile raw materials, roots and tuber crops, pulses, farmed fish, eggs, coconut, sugarcane and numerous vegetables.

Agriculture in India

India is ranked under the world's five largest producers of over eighty percent of agricultural produce items, including many cash crops such as coffee and cotton. India has shown a steady average nationwide annual increase in the kilograms produced per hectare for some agricultural items, over the last 60 years. These gains have come mainly from India's green revolution, improving road and power generation infrastructure, knowledge of gains and reforms.

Agriculture and its potential
As seen in the photograph taken in the rural side of India a farmer is working in the field. Despite these recent accomplishments, agriculture has the potential for major productivity and total output gains, because crop yields in India are still just thirty percent to sixty percent of the best sustainable crop yields achievable in the farms of developed and other developing countries. Additionally, post harvest losses due to poor infrastructure and unorganized retail, caused India to experience some of the highest food losses in the world. Over 2.500 years ago, Indian farmers had discovered and begun farming many spices and sugarcane. This evolution of taste and demand for sugar as an essential food ingredient unleashed major economic and social changes. Sugarcane does not grow in cold, frost-prone climate, therefore, tropical and semitropical colonies were sought.

India has very poor rural roads affecting timely supply of inputs and timely transfer of outputs from Indian farms. Irrigation systems are inadequate, leading to crop failures in some parts of the country because of lack of water. In other areas regional floods, poor seed quality and inefficient farming practices, lack of cold storage and harvest spoilage cause over thirty percent of farmer's produce going to waste, lack of organized retail and competing buyers thereby limiting Indian farmer's ability to sell the surplus and commercial crops. Human habitation and farming is affecting the health and quality of life for India's rural poor. While the Indian government could undoubtedly do more, some share of blame must also fall on Western farm subsidies that artificially reduce the cost of imported produce, undermining prices for Indian farmers. As with sugar, cooperatives play a significant part in the overall marketing of fruit and vegetables in India. Since forty years ago the amount of produce handled by cooperative societies has increased exponentially. Common fruit and vegetables marketed by the societies include bananas, mangoes, grapes, onions and many others. Various reasons have been offered to explain why farmers commit suicide in India, including floods, drought, debt, use of genetically modified seeds, public health, use of lower quantity pesticides due to less investments producing a decreased yield. There is no consensus on what the main causes might be but studies show suicide victims are motivated by more than one cause, on average three or more causes for committing suicide, the primary reason being the inability to repay loans.

"Some newer crops require more water than parts of India have to give. Loan systems left millions of Indian farmers in crushing debt with no way out besides suicide, which has been a persistent issue in India over the past few decades. Roughly 10 farmers per day commit suicide in India"

Flooding and drought in India
Due to poor artificial irrigation facilities, as much as almost eighty percent of India's farmland relies on flooding during monsoon season, so inadequate rainfall can cause droughts, making crop failure more common. In regions that have experienced droughts, crop yields have declined, and food for cattle has become scarcer. Agricultural regions that have been affected by droughts have subsequently seen their suicide rates increase. Farmer suicides in India refers to the national catastrophe of farmers committing suicide since the 1970s, often by drinking pesticides, due to their inability to repay loans mostly taken from private landlords and banks.

Farmer protesting in India
Last year tens of thousands of the farmers protesting against the agricultural reforms held a farmer's parade with a large convoy of tractors and drove into Delhi and the protesters deviated from the pre-sanctioned routes. All three bills collectively invisibilize trade area transactions, contract farming and stocking in a way that makes them unregulatable and where farmers end up selling most of their produce below government-mandated prices.

Against three laws
The Indian farmers' protest is an ongoing protest against three farm acts which were passed by the Parliament of India in September last year and farmer unions and their representatives have demanded that the laws be repealed and have stated that they will not accept a compromise. The farmers key demand is the withdrawal of the three laws which deregulate the sale of their crops. Farmer leaders have welcomed the Supreme Court of India stay order on the implementation of the farm laws but rejected the committee appointed by the Supreme Court. Farmer leaders have also rejected a government proposal, some months ago suspending the laws for over a year. Eleven rounds of talks have taken place between the central government and farmers represented by the farm unions all were inconclusive. Farmer leaders warned of escalating the protest to overthrowing the government if the farm laws were not repealed. However, the stay order on the implementation of the farm laws remains in effect and the Supreme Court appointed committee continues with its tasks related to the farm laws and have asked for suggestions from the public this year.

Reforms have influence on:
• Less government control
• Outlined rules for contract farming
• Private buyers can control the market

Taken together, the reforms will loosen rules around sale, pricing and storage of farm produce, rules that have protected India's farmers from the free market for decades.
They also allow private buyers to hoard essential commodities for future sales, which only government-authorised agents could do earlier and they outline rules for contract farming, where farmers tailor their production to suit a specific buyer's demand.One of the major changes is that farmers will be allowed to sell their produce at a market price directly to private players, agricultural businesses, supermarket chains and online grocers. Most Indian farmers currently sell the majority of their produce at government-controlled wholesale markets or mandis at assured floor prices.

Read also:  An Indian portrait




Read also:  An Indian portrait

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a farmer in Nashik. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.