Wednesday October 18, 2017
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Rahul Gandhi affirms support for farmers, accuses BJP of being a “suit-boot ki sarkar”

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File Photo.

rahul gandhi 121116

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Tribals have got a new supporter in Rahul Gandhi. On Monday, the Congress Vice-president brought much cheer to the tribals by voicing that their land should not be taken away for any purpose without permission.

Arriving at the Bilaspur airport on Monday, Gandhi was welcomed by Congress workers. After the arrival, he went to Madanpur village, in the Korba district of Chhattisgarh, where he addressed the tribals and villagers.

Contending that the nation’s welfare must include the tribals’ welfare, Gandhi accused the current government of being a “suit-boot ki sarkar.”

“We want a government that works for the welfare of the under-privileged section of the society”, said Gandhi.

“Lands are being taken away from the farmers forcibly and we are totally opposed to this. Forests are an integral part of tribals’ and farmers’ livelihood, and if forests vanish, then farmer’s livelihood would also vanish,” Gandhi added.

Pledging his support to the tribal people, Gandhi said that his party would always support poor people and keep fighting for their rights. He also discussed various issues with the farmers.

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Indian Agriculture status, Importance & Role In Indian Economy

The aggregate growth in the agricultural sector determines that the future of the agrarian economy is not bleak

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Agriculture
Agriculture in India. Wikimedia.
  • Despite people shifting their occupations from agriculture, UN states that India ranks second in the agricultural production in the world
  • India’s horticulture production has also increased

Sep 20, 2017: Indian agriculture is facing a huge crisis since many years. Despite continuous reports suggesting that the agrarian economy of India is getting affected, as people are shifting away from the agricultural sector and are moving towards industrial sector development, the food and agriculture organization of United Nations (UN) has stated that India ranks second in the agricultural production of the World. In the past 11 years, the country’s agricultural production has increased from $87 billion in the financial year 2004-05 to $322 billion in the fiscal year 2015-16.

Interestingly this is not just the only positive point being witnessed about the agricultural situation of the nation. The country’s horticulture production has also increased with the passage of time. The horticultural production includes fruits, vegetables, plantation crops, and spices. The increasing demand of fruits and vegetables has augmented the production estimate to 295 million tonnes in 2016-17, which is 3.2 % higher than the production in 2015-16.

Also Read: WHO says Millions of People are Dying Pre-mature Deaths Due to Non-Communicable Diseases.

Earlier in May, the agriculture ministry released a second advance estimate of horticulture production, stating that the farm area under the horticulture crops has recorded an increase. The increase was from 245 lakh hectares of farm in 2015-16 to 249 lakh hectares in 2016-17. The Indian economy’s earnings from agriculture as compared to the service sector has been absolutely great. The net export from agriculture was noted $16 billion, and those from the commercial service were 9% in 2014.

When the country is facing even greater challenges like farmer suicides, protests, and monsoon failure, figures like these tend to bring smiles on our faces, even if it is for a short time. The aggregate development can never alleviate the plight of farmers.
The percentage growth may satisfy the government and us both, but does it really satisfy the farmers? A wiser approach like good law and order towards the handling of problems and crisis should be taken, and then only can there be a better future in the agriculture.

by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.

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WeFarm- a Farmer to Farmer Digital Network – is Helping Farmers in remote villages of Kenya

WeFarm helps connect farmers via Text Messages

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A farmer herds his cattle at sunset near Kisumu, Kenya, Feb. 2, 2008.
A farmer herds his cattle at sunset near Kisumu, Kenya, Feb. 2, 2008. VOA

When she woke up one morning in February, Catherine Kagendo realized that one of her cows could not stand.

“It was lying on its side, had lost its appetite and was breathing heavily,” she told Reuters from her farm in Meru, in eastern Kenya.

With her husband, she decided to turn to WeFarm, a text-based network of small-scale farmers, for help.

Within an hour, their text — “one of my lactating cows cannot stand” — generated a flurry of suggestions, from “feed your cow with minerals rich in calcium” to “make sure the cow shed is clean and well-drained so the animals don’t slip.”

“I realized our cow had milk fever, so gave it calcium-rich feed and it was standing again within hours,” Kagendo explained.

She is one of many Kenyan small-scale farmers who lack good information — mostly due to a lack of internet access — on how to manage problems from dry spells to diseases, local farm experts say.

As a result, such farmers often lose their harvest or animals, they said.

But WeFarm, a farmers’ network launched in Kenya in 2014 and more recently expanded to Uganda and Peru, allows people to ask a question by text message and receive advice from their peers.

The service, whose Scottish co-founder Kenny Ewan describes it as “the internet for people with no internet,” is free to use and only requires a mobile phone.

Farmers text questions to a local number, and WeFarm transmits the message to users with similar interests in the area, tapping into their knowledge.

“We want farmers to get answers to their problems without needing to access the internet, so the information is available to all,” said Mwinyi Bwika, head of marketing at WeFarm.

Although the platform also exists online, over 95 percent of users choose to use it offline, he said.

Information gap

Kagendo said that when her animals were ill or her maize crops too dry, she used to have to hire an extension officer to help solve the problem.

“But we had to pay a fee ranging from 500 to 2,000 Kenyan shillings ($5-$20), and most of the time the officer didn’t even explain their diagnosis,” she said.

That cut into her family’s income and left them no better able to understand the diseases facing their cattle and their crops.

“We cannot even afford a smartphone to go online, so finding credible information was near impossible,” she said.

According to Bwika, small-scale farmers often lack the information they need because of a lack of cash — most live on less than a dollar a day — as well as poor internet connection and low literacy levels.

“Ewan realized that farmers living just a few miles from each other were facing the same challenges, but with no way to communicate about them. So, he created a platform to connect them,” Bwika said.

Joseph Kinyua, another farmer from Meru who grows vegetables, said he spends at least 30 minutes per day using WeFarm.

“It’s taught me anything from using pest control traps to ensuring that my sprinklers don’t put out too much water,” he said. “And I know the methods are proven and tested by other farmers.”

The knowledge has helped improve the quality of the kale he grows, he said, enough that “I can now sell a kilo at the market at 70 shillings [$0.70] compared to 50 [$0.50] previously.”

Preventing problems

While the platform might receive dozens of replies to a question, it only sends out to the user a selection of answers judged correct, Bwika said.

But it uses the questions and advice received to help track disease outbreaks or extreme weather spells, and shares those insights with governments and non-governmental organizations, Bwika said.

“In doing so, we hope to prevent disease outbreaks and track problems before they occur,” he said.

Not everyone shares this optimism, however.

Mary Nkatha, a farmer from Meru, said she found it hard to implement some of the recommendations she received from WeFarm without the practical guidance of an expert.

“If I am told to inject my cow with something, how do I make sure I do it in the right place? And where do I find the equipment?” she asked.

Fredrick Ochido, a Kenya-based consultant on dairy farming, also worries that the platform may be entrenching farmers’ poor use of technology, rather than helping them keep up with new trends.

The WeFarm platform has over 100,000 current users in Kenya, Uganda and Peru, and its operators hopes to reach one million farmers in the next year. They also aim to expand the effort to other countries, including Tanzania. (VOA)

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Anti-Punjab Conspiracy: Apologise to Punjabis for Branding them as Drug Addicts, Demands Akali Dal to Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal

A survey by PGIMER had revealed that drugs abuse in Punjab was just around one per cent of the 2.8 crore population in the state

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Sukhbir Singh Badal, President of Akali Dal in Punjab. Wikimedia

Chandigarh, Sep 11, 2017: Punjab’s opposition Akali Dal on Sunday said that latest findings of PGIMER survey listing drug addiction in the state at less than a per cent had yet again nailed the “anti-Punjab conspiracy” of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and demanded they apologise to the people.

“The latest comprehensive survey which was carried out in all 22 districts as well as 22 villages in each district, had exposed the anti-Punjab conspiracy of Rahul Gandhi and his team as well as that of AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal,” SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal said in a statement here.

“Both leaders and their parties should now tell Punjabis why they branded them as drug addicts and tender an unconditional apology to the people of the state.”

Claiming that the “entire conspiracy was hatched to counter the development narrative of the previous SAD-BJP government”, Badal said though the Congress had succeeded in its goal of achieving power in Punjab, it had caused incalculable damage to its people and its economy.

“Both Congress and AAP played with the lives of the youth and made them virtually unhireable. The image distortion also dented the image of Punjab and Punjabis worldwide,” he said.

Highlighting Rahul Gandhi’s “nefarious role in this sordid chapter of Punjab politics”, Badal said he was “definitely the villain-in-chief”.

“Rahul uttered an utter lie to reap political mileage for his flagging party by claiming in October 2012 at a NSUI function in Chandigarh that 70 per cent of the state’s youth were drug addicts.

“This despite the fact that he knew well that he was reading out a sample survey of drug addicts of which youth formed a big share,” he said.

“During the Punjab assembly campaign this year, he insisted he was speaking the truth and even had the gall to ask Punjabis to admit they were drug addicts. Such behaviour coming from the chosen scion of the Gandhi dynasty is shameful,” he added.

A survey done by a team of doctors and researchers of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research had revealed that drugs abuse in Punjab was just around one per cent of the 2.8 crore population in the state.

Badal said that Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal and “his gang of outsiders had also tried to doom the future of the youth by claiming 40 lakh youth were drug addicts”.

“The PGIMER report puts the entire number of addicts in the state at 2.7 lakh. Other reports, included that conducted by AIIMS, had come out with even lower figures than this,” he added.

A detailed survey by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi had put the drug addiction at 0.84 per cent.

“The Punjab government also got a dope test conducted on 3.76 lakh youth who presented themselves for police recruitment. The test, which was conducted by the Baba Farid Health Sciences University, saw only 1.27 per cent candidates testing positive,” Badal said, citing a survey done during the Akali government last year. (IANS)