2022 too short, too far: A tough year for farmers, cattle owners

Down To Earth recaps the primary environment, health and developmental news from 2022  

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 28 December 2022
Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

The year 2022 was not kind to the agricultural sector. Many states reported drought conditions and untimely incessant rainfall destroyed standing crops in several areas. Skyrocketing fodder prices and lumpy skin disease didn’t make it easier for cattle farmers.

The agricultural sector was the only one to record growth during the COVID-19 pandemic and the central government told the Parliament that farmers’ income doubled since 2016. But an agricultural labourer died by suicide every two hours in 2021 and young women in Marathwada villages are refusing to marry farmers. 

Here’s a recap of the most important agricultural stories from Down To Earth this year. 

The Supreme Court of India started hearing arguments challenging the Centre’s environmental clearance for genetically modified mustard. There may be irreversible contamination of the environment following unknown consequences once the crop is released, the court was told.

Read more: GM mustard: Crop’s release would irreversibly damage the environment, SC told

The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has restricted the use of glyphosate, a widely used herbicide, citing health hazards for humans and animals. The herbicide has been approved for use only in tea plantations but field studies have found it is being used in more than 20 crop fields. 

Read more: Centre restricts use of common weedicide glyphosate citing health hazards

Fewer women in Marathwada want to marry farmers in the region, looking for a more “comfortable life”, which has easy access to water and better infrastructure. But a severely skewed sex ratio in these villages is not making things easier for wannabe grooms.

Read more: Skewed sex ratio worsens marriage woes for Marathwada farmers

Agriculture was said to be the sole bright spot for India’s gross domestic product growth during the last two years. But the growth did not translate much for agricultural labourers as at least one agricultural labourer died by suicide every two hours in 2021.

Read more: An agricultural labourer died by suicide every 2 hours in 2021: NCRB

High wheat prices have led to an unusual situation: A section of citizens in Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh are selling the rice they received via public distribution system to buy wheat or flour in the open market.

Read more: Only allocated rice in rations, people sell it to buy expensive wheat

Cattle herders in western Rajasthan suffered heavy losses due to an outbreak of the contagious Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD). Hundreds of cattle have died from infection and the state’s dairy sector has also been badly affected.

Read more: Cattle herders in western Rajasthan suffer heavy losses due to Lumpy Skin Disease

On February 28, 2016 Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to double farmers’ income by 2022-23. In the six years since then, the Union government has not given the most basic figures on how much farmers earned in 2016 and how much they earn now.

Read more: Doubling trouble: It’s mid-2022; is it good days yet for farm incomes?

Farmers’ incomes have more than doubled, as the government had promised in 2016, the Centre claimed in Parliament July 19, 2022. But it did not give any figures or details on how this happened and what are the current income levels.

Read more: Govt says farmers' incomes more than doubled; but doesn't give any number

Punjab has been able to bring only 77,000 hectares (ha) under direct-seeded rice (DSR) through June 30 this year, way below the 1.2 million ha (mha) it targetted. High temperatures and deficient rainfall are mainly to blame, said farmers.

Read more: Direct-seeded rice: Why this water saving method failed in Punjab this year

Cattle ranchers in Haryana are moving away from animal husbandry due to a sudden increase in the price of fodder. A farmer has started keeping foreign breed dogs in the dairy farm and is seriously considering adopting dog farming, which would give him a better income. 

Read more: India’ fodder crisis: Why cattle owners in this Haryana village want to shift to dog-breeding

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