Central India’s Agricultural Nightmare

Today, I read a review of a documentary produced by PBS on the agricultural crisis near the region of Vidarbha in Central India. This review, published on the blog Intercontinental Cry, evaluated the background of the agricultural crisis and the connected increase of suicides by farmers from the region. The film is called, India’s Dying Fields.

There are many underlying reasons farmers from Vidarbha are unable to produce viable crop-yields including extreme debts from loans, lack of governmental support, free-trade policies, and a shortage of water for irrigation.

Although, the lack of water is not the only issue for these farmers, cotton is a water-intensive crop usually grown in arid locations. With the advent of the Green Revolution, we as a society have had dwindling concern with actual inputs needed for food production. Additionally, the global economic system is set up in a manner to gain profit on these inputs, such as pesticides, herbicides, GM seeds, etc.

One possible solution could be a utilization of less water-intensive crops and employment of alternative or traditional cropping methods. Many farmers in Central America facing similar prospects have had great success using cooperative, organic, sustainable, diversified, and value-added techniques. These techniques usually have more viability in the global-market, require less financial input, utilize natural barriers to pests, and are less water-intensive. Could this be a possibility for Central India?

Watch the full documentary, India’s Dying Fields, here.

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