The needs of the small farmer require attention: small tractors or animal power? Both?
Time to redress
Small and marginal farmers constitute about 80 per cent of India's farming community. It would be logical to think that any government policies aimed at the country's farmers would, first and foremost, benefit them. But reality does not bear this out; rather it shows that these farmers remain the most neglected.
Take the case of tractors. Only the rich farmers have benefited from tractors because they are expensive. The need for a small tractor was realised 40 years ago. But the need to act on this realisation is yet to be understood.
Since the fruits of farm mechanisation haven't reached the small farmers, they remain dependent on draught animals. The country has 65 million draught animals. But research into improving breeds or yokes and other equipment has been poor. And who gets impacted? Again, the small farmer.
But time is running out -- our numbers are increasing, our food demands are increasing, but the arable land cannot. The rich farmers already might be maximising their yields. The growth in food production now has to come from the small and medium farmers. For this, both tractors and draught animals are equally important. The problem is the policy that allows the market to rule. Compounded with this is the mindset which simply blocks out what is not big and obvious. There is no place for the small tractor of the bullock in the Indian policy fields.
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