India is going to face the biggest refugee crisis from farmers
It’s now official that the northern parts of India this year will witness a failed monsoon. The granary of India comprises of Punjab and its surrounding state of Harayana as well.
The farmers are already in despair as this would mean that they would be pushed into further debts and multitude of other problems like drinking water and going to bed on an empty stomach for one full year. They are heavily dependent on the Khariff crops sown this time of the year.This will aggravate the situation which already pathetic.
The change in rainfall pattern due to the El Nino effect and erratic showers are virtually driving the farming community in the India to look for other occupational alternatives.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the root causes
a)Rapid Urbanization: With cities growing randomly as a result of the globalization effect we find that lots of lucrative jobs available that are more enticing and gratifying than the returns from agriculture
b) The Real Estate: as cities expand rapidly the value for land is reaching the skies and the farmers are attracted to the prospects of get rich fast attitude and rid themselves of the poverty .Most of the farmers who sold their lands on the persuasion of agents have ended up as menial laborers cleaning drains and construction workers so similar to the Bimal Roy’s movie “Do bigha jameen” in 1950s
c) The ground water levels : is decreasing as irresponsible drilling and usage has resulted in water depths which were available at 75 ft is now not visible even at the depth of 400 ft.
d) Fertilizers: In the last green revolution of the 1960s the people were persuaded to use fertilizers which are petrochemical derivatives. The prolonged exposure of the soil all these years have rendered most fertile areas uncultivable with the top soil being completely destroyed and degraded.
e) The Green revolution technologies: marked a paradigm shift in farming practices. The technologies were supported by the government policies, advocating the use of agro chemicals, hybrid and genetically modified GM seeds, mechanization and irrigation. This required heavy investment and therefore large cash requirements. Initially it gave the
farming community the feeling that it have brought prosperity .Though it helped create a sense of food sovereignty it didn’t bring food security at individual level as the produce were more oriented for external markets and not internal demands. Gradually in the absence of a proper price control for their produce sadly today instead of prosperity the farmers are trapped under the burden of debts
Farming has now slowly become unsustainable as the cost of cultivation is increasing but the returns are diminishing
This is forcing farming community to either to take the extreme step of mass suicides or reduce themselves into menial laborers in cities falling below poverty line.
As per the survey by NSSO in 2006 40% of the farming community wants to quit farming and move to alternate occupations.
80,000 farmers are quitting farming and moving into cities every year. This includes farmers with land holding and landless laborers
The combined population of UK, France and Germany is 200 million. The World Bank had therefore estimated that some 400 million people would be willingly or unwillingly moving from the rural to urban centers by 2015.
Subsequent studies have shown that massive distress migration will result in the years to come. For instance, 70 per cent of Tamil Nadu, 65 per cent of Punjab, and nearly 55 per cent of Uttar Pradesh is expected to migrate to urban centers by the year 2020
We have reached the point of disaster and now there is no room for skeptism or criticism we need to act now.
India is poised to become an economic superpower and we have invested so much in our image building as well as our cities .Any metro today is no less than an America in India. Our Bollywood movies are speaking of Indians having attained the affluent status with the NRI life styles. We spend millions of USD on show Biz and fancy infrastructure for our IT /BT companies. Splurge money at super markets and malls
None of us thinking as to where the food comes from and what will happen to us in the coming years with the burgeoning population demanding more and more food while our farmers die on the streets.
We are on the verge of triggering a refugee crisis that could be the largest in our history during peace time.
These 400 million displaced will constitute the new class of migrants – agricultural refugees. Twice the number of people that are expected to be displaced by global warming worldwide are alone be pushed out of agriculture in India
What are we doing about it?
Kishor Jagirdar is a practicing Strategic Management Specialist .Founder of Infopace Management Pvt Ltd.