Meghalaya, like all the other states in India, is an agrarian state. Eighty-three percent of the population are dependent on agriculture. If we take a closer look, most of them are small-scale farmers. They face a lot of challenges, but have we ever stopped to think whether we know our fellow farmers? Are we doing anything to bring a change to their lives? Do we know about the problems faced by them? Is modern technology bringing any sort of development in their lives?
We have tried to answer a few questions on the hardships they face and looked at the solutions modern technology can offer farmers.
Farmer Needs: What ails our farmers?
When it comes to the question of what a farmer needs in order to produce and sell the seeds of his hard labour, the first and perhaps only thing that he requires the most is support really. Support that encompasses all fields, from monetary and resource, to morals and awareness.
A farmer needs reassurance. He needs to know that his produce gets a market and does not go to waste. Financial aids such as subsidies by the government can go a long way for farmers as this lessens the burden of their investments in assets that would ultimately bring them significant returns. Subsidies on machinery is one of the steps that is taken by the government albeit there are still some discrepancies in it’s full implementation.
In order to understand what a farmer needs, the concerned authorities, such as the government, must take necessary initiatives to get down to the ground level and listen to the burdens of the farmer. But it is also important to remember that this support system is a two way street. The farmers have to do their part in cooperating with the authorities and actively participate in the awareness or orientation programmes organized by the government in the hopes of educating the majority of the farmers.
Truly, the most effective support that a farmer can acquire is education. Education in terms of ethical farming practices and basic entrepreneurship skills so as to allow the farmer to be economically independent and make better decisions pertaining to production and selling.
These are just some of the actionable steps that could help cater to a farmers needs.
What Are the Problems Faced by Indian Farmers Due to Climate Change?
Farmers face a lot of challenges due to climate change which manifests as changes in temperature, non-seasonal rains, monsoon delays, erratic floods or long dry spells. All these lead to an immediate increase in irrigation costs, high incidence of pests and gradual change of ecosystem, which destroys crops.
Farmers will have to re-adjust their cropping process according to the effects of climatic change. The crop model, based on his present cropping system, may have to undergo changes, which the farmer may not be able to adopt easily. His practices will have to change frequently, which can be challenging, and there will be higher chances of crop failure.
Can We Assist Farmers Using Modern Technology?
The life of Indian farmers can be improved in many ways by using new and advanced technology. Data Analysis can play a huge role in this as if one can get access to data on local weather conditions, soil conditions and other crop data on growth rate and diseases, it may help the farmers to better manage their crops.
A farmer can benefit by being in a better position to choose the type of crop to grow, what to use for the crop and what is needed to increase the output and so on. Development of new equipment – such as cheap refrigeration facilities, better packaging, and transport with a tracking system.
Other technologies such as accurate weather prediction, on the spot soil analysis, prediction of pests and diseases, by monitoring through UAV (Unmanned aerial vehicle).
Can We Assist Farmers by Setting up Small Industries for Their Produce?
Indeed, we can!
We at Zizira are directed by a sole mantra to help our local farmers - “to make a difference to farmers and north-east India by pioneering new ideas, opening markets and proving the potential of the people and the land of the region.”
Why did we choose the north-east?
- The unique bio-diversity of the north-east produces exclusive fruits, grains and medicinal herbs that are yet to be unearthed by the rest of the world.
- The farmers of the region follow traditional farming techniques; thus, our products are clean and free from chemical-based pesticides and toxins.
- Most, if not all the farmers fail to realize the potential right under their feet, they need a platform to showcase their produce.
We work closely with farmers who educate us in becoming aware of where our products are sourced from. We work authentically by demonstrating traits outlining our responsibility to the farmers of the region. We are working towards discovering and exploring viable marketing solutions for the farmers of the region. So that at the end of the day, no farmer has to throw away their produce.
Will Digitization Assist Indian Farmers?
Digitization will be of great help to farmers in many ways. One major benefit is that a farmer can access the internet, and know about anything he wants to know.
Digital applications can also provide them with information on the current agricultural situation and prices of their produce. Social media can help farmers connect among themselves. It will give them a platform to learn from each other.
By sharing information and success stories of progressive farmers in these platforms, many others can learn and follow them towards success. He need not have to wait to get expert advice. At the click of a button, he can ask his advisor to recommend the necessary action steps to be taken to save the crop and yield. This makes decision making easy for farmers. Furthermore, many digital options are developing to help farmers in reducing their risk and increase their profitability.
The Zizira Aspect
Here at Zizira, we're doing our best to highlight the challenges faced by north-east Indian farmers. We are meeting farmers and helping them understand that there is a market for their produce.
We hope to play a small part in improving returns to the farmers of north-east India by promoting their produce and unleashing the potential of family farms in Meghalaya.
Do you have any questions that you would like to ask us? Do you want to learn more about farmers of north-east India? Join us and be a part of us.
As an organic farmer I know the stark realities and how we are exploited and neglected.