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Cattle Traders lynched: Farmers unable to sell Cattle due to Water shortage in Jharkhand

With only two-third of the 12,000-odd handpumps in the district working, people crowd around them and line up for several hours waiting to fill their containers with water.

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Cattles and their owners at a cattle fair in Maharashtra. (Representational Image). Image source: sandeepachetan.com
  • In fear of repercussions, no one dares to sell cattle, and even if they try, no one is willing to buy
  • After the rivers dried up, people have dug a pit in the river bed for water for both the villagers and cattle to use
  • The emaciated cattle are seen searching  for any leaves or grass to feed on

Jharkhand’s Latehar district had just witnessed two murders this March. Mazlum Ansari, 32, and Imteyaz Khan, the 13-year-old son of another cattle trader, were hanged to death for selling their cattle. Now, Latehar district’s ponds and streams have all dried up for the first time in several years and water has become really scarce. At a time like this, farmers are unable to save their cattle as selling them in another village could lead to their death.

The tribal farmers used to sell their cattle in the dry months before the monsoon and purchase new cattle to plough fields once the monsoon arrived.  Cows and Oxen were sold for cash to tide over any financial distress, and, sometimes, to organise weddings during the lean farm months. Now, months after the lynching, villagers say no one can dare to sell cattle, and even if they try, no one is willing to buy, said the scroll.in report.

Vijay Oraon, a local contractor  told Scroll.in that tribal villagers used cattle sales as a means of supplementing their income as only subsistence farming was possible in the area.

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“I have four oxen, it becomes necessary to sell to tide over these months, but if anyone buys, they may get phaansi [be executed] Then, who will buy?”” said Babulal Oraon, a tribal farmer to Scroll.in.

With a local cow protection group propagating against the sale of cattle in the area, no one dares to sell their cattle.

According to the Scroll.in report, in Nawada village, over 50 families that survived on the cattle trade have now left that work. Most youth have left for construction work elsewhere in the district.

Cattles in a truck. Image Source: indianexpress.com

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With only two-third of the 12,000-odd handpumps in the district working, people crowd around them and line up for several hours waiting to fill their containers with water.

After the rivers dried up, people have dug a pit in the river bed for water for both the villagers and cattle to use.

In these dry lands, the emaciated cattle are seen searching  for any leaves or grass to feed on.

The Scroll.in report says that the cattle cannot be kept as there was no grass or leaves in the fields, and the only pond in the village had all but dried up.  When they got to drink water in the pond, the weaker cattle’s legs get stuck in the quicksand-like mud and they die.

Villagers fish in the only pond left with water in Amwatoli in Balumath, Latehar. Weak cattle get stuck in the wet mud if they try to enter the pond.
What is left of a pond. Image Source: Scroll.in

“The forest is catchingfire, there are no leaves on trees, nothing for the cattle to graze on, grass is all dried up. At this rate, the cattle will die,” says Kujur, a tribal Christian farmer to Scroll.in.

This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.

ALSO READ:

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    There should be some steps taken to supply water to these villages. Like we have trains which supply water to the Latur district in Maharashtra

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Rain is one of the most important factor in India. Not only does farming need water, but rearing cattle stock also requires high amount of water

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Research: Having Diverse Natural Areas Near Agriculture Helps Farmers Financially During Calamities

"New global and local policy should specifically target conserving and enhancing biodiversity"

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farmers, nature
University of British Columbia ecologist Diane Srivastava, with a damselfly, an insect often used as an indicator species for estimating biodiversity and assessing ecosystem health. (T. Zulkoskey). VOA

Farmers reap surprising benefits from having areas that are biodiverse  with many plant and animal species nearby, according to new research. A study finds that having diverse natural areas near agriculture helps farmers financially during droughts, and the more diverse the areas are, the better. Policies that preserve biodiversity near farms may ease economic pressure in places with severe droughts, the authors say.

“If you plant the same sort of crops next to a natural area that is very high in biodiversity versus one that’s very low in biodiversity, [the positive effect] spills over into the agricultural products,” said Frederik Noack, a professor of food and resource economics at the University of British Columbia who led the study.

Some of that spillover can be tied to the increased diversity of insects in places that host many different species of plants, experts say. Pollinators that help plants reproduce, like bees and moths, and spiders that prey on agricultural pests like aphids and beetles are especially important.

Noack hoped to learn if having biodiverse areas close to farms could help crops be more resistant to drought  and if that impact would be big enough to be seen in farmers’ incomes.

farmers, diversity, agriculture
Farmers reap surprising benefits from having areas that are biodiverse with many plant and animal species nearby, according to new research. Wikimedia Commons

Big data from small farms

The researchers used data from 7,556 households in 304 villages in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where farmers derive their incomes from traditional agriculture as well as forest products like lumber and firewood.

Noack and his research team looked for a connection between the level of natural biodiversity  in this case, the number of plant species in the area  and how strongly drought affected the incomes of local farmers.

The researchers had expected that greater local biodiversity would benefit farmers, and it did. Farmers in areas with half the biodiversity lost twice as much income when droughts hit during the growing season.

Noack said that initially they thought the effect was just correlated with crop diversity. “Maybe you plant more different crops in areas with higher natural biodiversity because maybe there are just more crops available in those areas and that’s actually what’s driving the effect.”

But that’s not what they found. Even when they accounted for the effect of greater crop diversity, the farmers’ incomes seemed to be stabilized just by being close to diverse natural areas that can host many types of pollinators.

farmers, agriculture, diverse
“If you plant the same sort of crops next to a natural area that is very high in biodiversity versus one that’s very low in biodiversity, [the positive effect] spills over into the agricultural products,” said Frederik Noack. Pixabay
Having access to forests was also an income stabilizer. Because forests are the result of many years of growth rather than just a single season, income from forest products is less susceptible to drought and can offset agricultural losses, the researchers found.

ALSO READ: Government to Launch Solar Scheme for Farmers to Ensure Rs. 1 Lakh Income

Encouraging conservation

Bruno Basso, an ecosystems scientist at Michigan State University who was not involved in the research, commented in an email that the researchers had been able to show that “biodiversity and forest conservation play a critical role in adapting and mitigating the negative effects of increased climate variability.” Noack hopes that this study can become part of the larger debate about conservation of natural areas.

“Should we just have protected area far away in areas that we don’t use or shall we try to integrate that into normal land use?” said Noack. “This study actually says maybe we should at least have some level of biodiversity conservation in the agricultural landscape because of this positive spillover.” Basso agreed. “New global and local policy should specifically target conserving and enhancing biodiversity,” he said. (VOA)