Monday February 18, 2019
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Farmers welfare: What Indian agricultural sector needs to learn from Denmark?

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By Prachi Mishra

Every day, from breakfast to dinner, our lives are touched by the farmers as the food we eat is cultivated by them. But never even once, a thought crosses our minds about the sacrifices peasants make so we can enjoy our daily bread.

This year itself, thousands of farmers have ended their lives because they were unable to provide basic sustenance to their families.

The poor farmers are vulnerable to a larger variety of risks, which not only affect individuals, but their households or the entire community. Other than the risk of injuries, accidents, underemployment, these farmers also have to deal with the risk of natural calamities like heavy rainfall, droughts, cyclones, etc.

The condition of the farmers in India is deplorable, and over the last 67 years since Independence, the political parties have used them only for political gains. Indian politicians, instead of coming up with solutions to the woes of the farmers, keep lamenting about the situation.

What is needed by the government is to adopt the policies, which have been tried and tested in the nations where farmers live a dignified life. One such example from which India could take cues is of Denmark.

Denmark is renowned for its profitable agriculture sector. In India, the farmers, who cultivate food for the country, cannot provide their own families with two square meals, while in Denmark, the farmers produce food sufficient to feed three times of its actual population. The farmers in Denmark are given proper education of around 4.5 years to enhance their skills and competency. The marketing and food companies are owned by the farmers themselves, unlike India where the agro-based companies are owned by industrialists who eat away the farmer’s share of profit.

Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has laid down certain rules regarding the storage of manure, livestock farming, handling and storage of manure. Some of the rules are:

·          Cover on manure storage

·          Education for farmers using chemicals

·          Updated list on safe pesticides

·          Safe storage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides

India should take up Denmark as a model to improve the livelihood of its farmers. Instead of handing over the control to multinational corporations, the government can form farmer cooperatives, which could look into the production as well as the marketing of agricultural goods. Farmers should also be aided with proper education and infrastructure.

It’s not that India does not have plans to provide the farmers with subsidies and welfare schemes. Every now and then, we see political leaders supporting pro-farmer movements and coming up with new proposals to aid them. Several NGOs represents the vulnerability of farmers and urges the government to support them. Then, why are the Indian farmers still sustaining in a deplorable condition?

We have enough social protection plans in our country to redress the grievances of the farmers. It’s just that these plans are not implemented properly. Therefore, instead of coming up with new schemes, the government should make sure that the existing welfare program are exhausted to their full extent to benefit the farmers.

  • In india schemes r just on papers and r only to fill their own pocket.In india Talent and merit r given second importance.Double faced few indians like to be called Progressive but the truth is they love their backwardness.Denmark is also know for its Cattle breading milk production….
    Long way to go but this is a beautiful and encouraging articles.

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  • In india schemes r just on papers and r only to fill their own pocket.In india Talent and merit r given second importance.Double faced few indians like to be called Progressive but the truth is they love their backwardness.Denmark is also know for its Cattle breading milk production….
    Long way to go but this is a beautiful and encouraging articles.

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Gourmet Grubs Squirm Onto American Plate

Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects."

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Andrew takes a tentative taste of baked, salted mealworm at Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch. VOA

A huge shipping container in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, is the home of some of the nation’s smallest livestock. Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm, and one of fewer than three dozen companies in the U.S. growing insects as human food or animal feed.

Wendy Lu McGill started her company in 2015, and today grows nearly 275 kilos of crickets and mealworms every month. “I want to be part of trying to figure out how to feed ourselves better as we have less land and water and a hotter planet and more people to feed,” she explains.

Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.
Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.

Feeding the world’s appetite for protein through beef and even chicken is unsustainable, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Protein from bugs is more doable.

On the global menu

Edible insects are a great source of high quality protein and essential minerals such as calcium and iron. Edible grubs — insect larvae — offer all that, plus high quality fat, which is good for brain development.

Insects are part of the diet in many parts of the world. Analysts say the global edible insects market is poised to surpass $710 million by 2024, with some estimates as high as $1.2 billion. And while American consumers comprise a small percentage of that market today, there is growing demand for a variety of insect-infused products.

Thinking small

Amy Franklin is the founder of a non-profit called Farms for Orphans, which is working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “What we do is farm bugs for food because in other countries where we work, they’re a really, really popular food,” she notes.

In Kinshasa’s markets, vendors sell platters of live wild-caught crickets plus big bowls of pulsating African Palm weevil larvae. These wild insects are only plentiful in certain seasons.

Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans)
Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans). VOA

Franklin’s group helps orphanages grow African Palm weevil larvae year round, in shipping containers. “Most of the orphanages don’t own any land. There really is no opportunity for them to grow a garden or to raise chickens. Insects are a protein source that they can grow in a very small space.”

Changing the American palate

It’s estimated that more than 2 billion people worldwide eat insects every day. And even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that consumption of crickets and mealworms is safe and that they are a natural protein source, many Americans, like Denver grandfather Terry Koelling, remain skeptical. As he and his grandchildren take a tour of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, he admits, “I don’t think they are very appealing, as something to put in your mouth. You see them around dead things, and it just does not appeal to me to eat something that wild.”

Koelling gets adventurous at Linger, a Denver restaurant that has had an insect entree on its menu for three years.

Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects.”

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And so Koelling takes a forkful of the Cricket Soba Noodle dish, with black ants, sesame seeds and crickets mixed in with green tea soba noodles, and garnished with Chapuline Crickets.

“The seasoning’s great!” he says with surprise, adding, “Seems to me there weren’t enough crickets in it!” (VOA)