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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
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  • 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.

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  • 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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Small Farmers in Asia Miss Out On Climate Change Resilient Seeds

East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders

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Women farmers use sticks to make holes in the soil for seeds, on a farm near Pangalengan, West Java, Indonesia. VOA

Millions of smallholder farmers in South and Southeast Asia are missing out on new, resilient seeds that could improve their yields in the face of climate change, according to an index published Monday.

The 24 top seed companies fail to reach four-fifths of the region’s 170 million smallholder farmers for reasons such as poor infrastructure, high prices and lack of training, the Access to Seeds Index found.

Access to seeds bred to better withstand changing weather conditions such as higher temperatures is vital as farmers battle loss of productivity due to climate change, said Ido Verhagen, head of the Access to Seeds Foundation, which published the index.

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A farmer burns rice straw at his field in Qalyub, causing a “black cloud” of smoke that spreads across the Nile valley, near the agricultural road which leads to the capital city of Cairo, Egypt. VOA

“We see increasing demands for new varieties, because [farmers] are affected by climate change,” Verhagen told Reuters.

“If we want to feed a growing population, if we want to tackle climate change, if we want to go towards a more sustainable food system, we have to start with seeds,” he said.

Smallholder farmers managing between one to 10 hectares of land provide up to 80 percent of the food supply in Asia, said the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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FILE – Farmer sifts wheat crop at a farm on the outskirts of western Indian city of Ahmedabad. VOA

But traditional methods of preserving seeds from harvests are not always sufficient to cope with a changing climate.

About 340 million people were hungry in 2017 in South and Southeast Asia, a number that has barely changed since 2015, according to latest figures from the United Nations.

“The question is how to get markets to provide the varieties [of seeds] that farmers want, at prices that they’re able to pay,” said Shawn McGuire, agricultural officer at the FAO.

Some smaller companies are leading the way in helping smallholders access more resilient seeds, Verhagen said, such as Thailand-based East-West Seed which topped the index ahead of global giants Bayer and Syngenta, which ranked second and third.

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East-West Seed has built a successful business focusing purely on smallholders, he said, while Indian companies Acsen HyVeg and Namdhari, ranked sixth and seventh respectively, have also reached small-scale farmers with seeds.

Also Read: Climate Change’s Fight Harder Than Thought: Study

The index, funded by the Dutch government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ranks companies based on seven areas including strategies to help small farmers and supporting conservation. (VOA)