Dr. Parveen Kumar
Life and the existence of the world cannot be imagined without farmers. It is said that everyday at least three times a day, we need a farmer. It is because a farmer is the one who ensures food for all of us even if it means going to bed hungry for him. The scorching heat or the chilling temperature hardly matters for him/her. It is he who ensures food as well as nutritional security for all of us. Farming constitutes one of the oldest practices that mankind knows about and which is still in practice today. It dates back to over 10,000 years. One simply cannot undermine the role of farmer’s in our life and economy at large. To ensure that they get due credit and attention that they deserve, countries across the globe observe their ‘National Farmers’ Day’ every year. The event is also popularly called as ‘Old Farmers’ Day’ in the United States (US). There isn’t an exact date when celebrating Farmers’ Day became a trend, but the tradition is being followed since the early 1800s. In different parts of the country, the National Farmer’s Day is celebrated on different dates. In the United States, the National Farmer’s Day is observed on October 12; in India on December 23, and in Pakistan the day is celebrated on December 18.
History of National Farmers’ Day :
NATIONAL FARMER’S DAY
A day at the national level dedicated to the farming community is infact recognition of them and a honour to them towards their services for the humanity and for the mother land. The National Farmers Day in India also known as ‘Rashtriya Kisan Divas’ is celebrated every year on 23 December on the birthday of the 5th Prime Minister of India, Choudhary Charan Singh. Choudhary Charan Singh was born on Dec. 23, 1902 and died on May 29, 1987. He was also a great farmer’s leader who remained Prime Minister of the country from July 28, 1979 to January 14, 1980. During his tenure as Prime minister of the country, he introduced many farmer friendly policies and enacted much legislation to improve the lives of the Indian farmers. Recognizing his contribution to the agriculture sector and his pro farmer welfare measures, the Kisan Divas in the country is celebrated on his birthday. The Kisan Divas has been celebrated since 2001 in the country.
Theme of the National Farmers Day 2021 :
This year the National Farmers’ Day is being celebrated with the theme, ‘Powering the farmers, Making Prosperity to the Nation’. The theme depicts that if the agricultural sector and the farmers will be empowered, only then nation can grow. It is because agricultural sector is a vital contributor to our economy creating and providing livelihood opportunities to more than 50% of the population directly or indirectly. Majority of the rural population including the women folk are engaged in this sector. It is the primary sector providing raw material for secondary and tertiary sectors.
The agriculture sector despite a vital contributor to the country’s economy still suffers from some inherent loopholes. Indian agriculture is predominated by the presence of small and marginal farmers. This vital segment of Indian agriculture is often the neglected one; still outside the reach of developmental policies and programmes. They are still outside the formal framework of technological interventions, have no or little access to credit facilities and are not in a position to avail crop and livestock insurance. As this group of producers is located in the interiors in the far flung remote inaccessible areas, they do not have market linkages and often become the victim of middlemen and commission agents. Although Government has started many programmes for their empowerment, these do not have cut much ice. The situation more or less has not changed much for them. Small farms are disadvantaged when it comes to accessing markets, credit, and agricultural inputs such as seeds.
Agriculture has become a non remunerative sector. More and more farmers are leaving this sector and the youths are not interested in this. The benefits of the different farmer welfare schemes do not reach all. Only a representative group of farmers avail the benefits. Indian agriculture is characterized by the predominance of small and marginal holdings. About 86% of the farmers are marginal and small. They needed to be included in the farmer welfare programmes and it must be ensured that the benefits of different agricultural schemes percolate down to them. The farm women are also an important part of the agricultural sector in the country. This is also a day to highlight various issues confronting the farm sector and the farming community. Farmers are not satisfied with the Minimum Support Price announced by the Government every year. Although the Minimum Support Prices are announced by the Government every year for 22 crops, yet the farmers are not satisfied with the MSP announced by the Government and are demanding an increase in MSP and a written assurance from the government that the MSP regime will continue even after the enactment of new laws.
The Government of India bowing to the pressure of the farming community has also repealed the three laws enacted during COVID-19 pandemic. The Government has also already shown its willingness to talk to them on every issue and to address all their grievances. There are also many other issues in the agricultural sector in the country. While men go out for earning a livelihood for the family, they are the farm women who are out in their farms, work in the fields performing different agricultural operations right from sowing to harvesting, post harvest processing and storage. They should also be made a part of the development initiatives. The youth must also be actively involved in agricultural sector by motivating them thorough various income generating activities, their skill development and through various agri preneurship programmes.
India is predominantly a rural one with agriculture being the main source of income for most of the population. However, despite being the most important source of livelihood for many people, many are unaware of the problems faced by farmers. People are unaware of the necessary information about this cult of the country. The events are therefore focused on educating the public about these issues and empowering farmers with the latest information from the agriculture sector. If we can do anything for the farming community, there is nothing better than to raise their standard of living. December 23 celebration asks us to commit ourselves for the upliftment of this segment of our society, so that the class which provides us with basic necessities like fruits, vegetables and paddy, can be integrated with the mainstream of the society.Besides thanking farmers’ for their contribution in food basket of the country, this is also a day to recognize that persons like Choudhary Charan Singh born in a farmers’ family, who start from humble beginnings can occupy the highest chairs in the country by way of dedication, commitment and sincerity.
(The author is a Scientist at KVK-Leh)