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Compiled by Nandini Voice for The Deprived For a country which has the capacity to produce three crops in a year, the ceaseless cases of farmer suicides are an ignominious fact. The statics of the deaths are so high that there is nothing personal or moving left in them.
For a country which has the capacity to produce three crops in a year, the ceaseless cases of farmer suicides are an ignominious fact. The statics of the deaths are so high that there is nothing personal or moving left in them. The death count of a disaster raises more sympathy than the suicides of the Indian farmers. It has become more of a factor to lash the ruling
count of a disaster raises more sympathy than the suicides of the Indian farmers. It has become more of a factor to lash the ruling party by the opposition than a warning sign in Indian agriculture to actually do something.
However, not all are insensitive to the agrarian plight. Nandini Voice for The Deprived , a Chennai based NGO organized an All India Essay Competition for the citizens on “How to prevent farmers’ suicides in India?” to look critically into the issue.
Over 5,600 Farmers Committed Suicide In 2014
Farmer Suicides Have Come Down Under Modi Government
Here are some reasons and a few solutions to the problem as suggested by the participants in the competition.
Problems of Indian agriculture:
1. Agriculture is unorganized activity today
Indian agriculture is largely an unorganized sector. No systematic institutional and organizational planning is involved in cultivation, irrigation, harvesting etc.
Institutional finances are not adequately available and minimum purchase price fixed by the government do not reach the poorest farmer.
2. Most farms are small and economically unfeasible
The ground reality is that majority of the farmers in India own as little as two acres of land. Cultivation on such small area is not economically feasible. Such small farmers have become vulnerable in Indian agriculture.
In many cases, the farmers are not even the owners of the land, which makes profitable cultivation impossible because a significant portion of the earnings goes towards the payment of lease for the land.
3. Middlemen and economic exploitation of farmers
Exploitation by the middlemen is the reason put forth for not getting the best price for the produce of the agriculturists.
The government should promote the plan called “ulavar santhai” (Farmers Market), where the farmers can directly sell their products at reasonable price to the consumers.
4. Government programs do not reach small farmers
The government has implemented agricultural debt. waiver and debt. relief scheme in 2008 to benefit over 36 million farmers. Direct agricultural loan to stressed farmers under so called Kisan credit Card were also covered under this scheme.
However, most of the subsidies and welfare schemes announced by the Central and State governments do not reach the poor farmers in Indian agriculture. On the contrary, only big landlords are benefited by those schemes.
5. High indebtedness and exorbitant interest rates
The root cause of farmers taking their lives is the increase in their indebtedness and debt burden.
Exorbitant interest rates have to be declared illegal and the government has to take strict measures against greedy money lenders.
Easy access to institutional credits have to reach the small and marginal farmers, without cumbersome procedures.
6. Real estate mafia
We can see even fertile land best suited for agricultural purpose being sold to real estate people, who prepare plots and give attractive advertisements to sell at exorbitant price. There is need to implement strict measures to prevent land grabbing.
Solutions to the problem:
1. Multiple crops
Cultivation of multi crops such as coconut, turmeric, pineapple, banana, apple, papaya, ginger will yield profitable results to the farmers.
2. Special agricultural zone
Just like industrial zone, there is an urgent need to establish special agricultural zones, where only farming and agriculture related activity should be allowed.
3. Need to modernize agriculture
By introducing farm techniques which guarantee a definite success, an increase in youth participation on agricultural fields is economically possible. This can be attained only by implementing new technologies. Research efforts should continue for the production of crops with higher yield potential and better resistance to pests in Indian agriculture.
Technological advancement in agriculture should be passed down to the small farmers.
Where the existing crops would not do well under drought and weather conditions, the farmers should be helped to shift to cultivating crops that would be easy and economical to cultivate.
4. Educate the farmers
Many farmers in India are not aware of crop rotation. Though education in urban areas has improved a lot, the government has ignored the same in rural areas in general and in agriculture sector in particular. This is the reason why farmers are not adequately aware of the various schemes provided by the government.
5. Clubbing of small fields may help
Several farmers who own small piece of land can join together and combine all small fields into one large chunk. This may help in variety of ways.
Read About Maharashtra Initiatives On Farmer’s Suicide
6. Need for meaningful crop insurance policies
Crop insurance is must and the claim should be settled easily under the supervision of the district collectors.
Traditional crop insurance depends on the direct measurement of the damage suffered by a farmer to determine his/her payout. However, field loss assessment is often not feasible or expensive, since most of our farmers are small holders.
Index based insurance, on the other hand, responds to defined parameter.
Index based insurance has the advantages that it is transparent and all the insurers within the defined geographical area are treated equally. It has low operational and transnational costs, while also ensuring quick payouts.
7. .Need for better water management
Irrigation facilities that are currently available do not cover the entire cultivable land. Apart from the areas where perennial rivers flow, most of the agricultural fields do not have irrigation facility.
In most cases, it is not the lack of water but the lack of proper water management that causes water shortage. Improved modern methods of rain water harvesting should be developed.
Water management can be made more effective through interstate co-operation on water resources, where surplus water from perennial rivers can be diverted to the needy areas.
Connecting the rivers throughout the country will solve this problem in Indian agriculture. Construction of National Waterways will improve the irrigation facility, which in turn can save the farmers if the monsoon would fail.
8. Alternate source of income for farmers
Small farmers should be encouraged to develop alternative sources of income and the government should take up the responsibility for providing training to the farmers to acquire new skills.
In drought affected areas, the government should start alternative employment generation programs to reduce the dependence on agriculture as the sole source of income. Such programs should be standardized.
Farmers should be enabled to divide their activities into three parts. One for regular crop production, one for animal husbandry or fisheries and another for timber production. These activities complement each other and also alternate sources of income of farmers can be ensured.
9. Need for national weather risk management system/disease alert system
Facilitating national weather risk management system that alerts farmers when there is a danger of extreme weather, would go a long way in reducing losses in Indian agriculture.
Value added services like pest and disease alert applications, in combination with the weather forecast would equip the farmers to handle and manage their crops better.
For example, Water Watch Cooperative, a Netherlands based organization, has developed a disease alert system that sends an alarm to farmers, if the probability of a pest/disease would be detected.
Similarly, systems that detect the amount of water to be provided to a field based on the field water content, biomass, and rainfall probability, would aid in the optimization of water provision to the crop and ensure efficient crop management.
By Himanshu Agarwal
There is no exaggeration in saying that Covid-19 has literally taken over our lives. Whether vaccinated or not, most of us are still living in the shadow of fear and anxiety. In fact with breakthrough infections showing up for some, even the vaccinated do not feel completely safe from a possible assault of the virus. The finding that the virus can be airborne is scary enough, research also shows that the transmission of the coronavirus is higher indoors than outdoors. This means that even if you don't step out and think that the virus can't get to you because you are ensconced safely and comfortably indoors, the bad news is that you can still get infected.
So, what should you do to keep the virus at bay while being confined indoors? While taking other precautions, keeping the indoor air sanitized, and constantly so, is one big answer to this.
Indoor aerosols a carrier of coronavirus
Unlike the earlier dominant belief that only respiratory droplets could spread infection, it has been established now that the tiny aerosols in the air can carry the coronavirus. These aerosols which are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets can not only stay longer in the air but also carry the virus farther and for a longer time. The assumption that only by making contact with a contaminated surface one can get the virus, is no more valid.
Aerosols which are smaller and lighter than respiratory droplets can not only stay longer in the air but also carry the virus farther and for a longer time. | Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash
Several natural human activities carried out Indoors
We must remember that a lot of our daily natural and basic activities are conducted in our indoor spaces many of which involve active and oral expulsion of particles. From talking to shouting to sneezing and coughing to even singing, every one of these acts and others creates aerosols in the air which whether we like it not, continue to be exchanged with the others. In fact, many of these activities create more aerosols than even breathing. So, if we do not repeatedly ventilate the room and purify the air within, we can always be susceptible to be infected by others. Even if a house has no Covid patient, the risk of the virus being transmitted through the air from the neighbours or temporary staff can never be ruled out.
From talking to shouting to sneezing and coughing to even singing, every one of these acts and others creates aerosols in the air which whether we like it not, continue to be exchanged with the others. | Photo by Shazaf Zafar on Unsplash
Indoor air is naturally more unsafe than outdoor
As opposed to outdoor air which has natural circulation, unfortunately, indoor air doesn't have the same advantage. In India, the outdoor air itself isn't healthy enough for the human respiratory and health system due to the high amount of PM2.5, PM1.0 and other pollutants. So, without timely ventilation and purification, the chances of indoor air getting stale and unhygienic and thereby becoming more conducive to the 'designs' of coronavirus become very high. Add to this, there are recent studies that prove the possibility of PM2.5 particles being potential carriers of coronavirus, carrying them too much larger distances in the air. The high temperature and humidity which often characterizes our tropical climate add to the woes. (IANS/ MBI)
The outdoor air itself isn't healthy enough for the human respiratory and health system due to the high amount of PM2.5, PM1.0 and other pollutants. | Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash
Keywords: Pollution, pollutants, indoorm outdoor, air, covid, aerosol
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution are up to 50 per cent more likely to self-harm later in life, suggested a study that adds to evidence of link between air pollution and mental health problems. Researchers from the University of Manchester in England and Aarhus University examined 1.4million kids under 10 in Denmark and found that those exposed to a high level of nitrogen dioxide were more likely to self harm in adulthood than their peers, the Daily Mail reported.
And people in the same age group exposed to above average levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were 48 per cent more likely to subsequently self-harm, revealed the study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. Nitrogen dioxide is mainly produced by cars, while PM2.5 is mainly emitted by burning diesel and petrol, which is most commonly used for shipping and heating. These two pollutants are among those most commonly linked with causing harm to physical health, such as heart and lung diseases, by getting into the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok, a research fellow at Manchester University was quoted as saying. "Although air pollution is widespread, it is a modifiable risk factor and we therefore hope our study findings will inform policymakers who are devising strategies to combat this problem," Mok added.
"Our findings add to the growing evidence-base indicating that higher levels of air pollution exposure are linked with poor mental health outcomes," lead author Dr Pearl Mok | Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash
While the researchers have not explained the mechanism for how these pollutants can cause mental health problems, they say high pollution levels could trigger inflammation in the brain, leading to mental health conditions, the report said. Childhood is a 'sensitive time for brain development', so youngsters may be 'particularly susceptible' to negative effects from toxic particles in the air, they added.
Further, the team found that some 32,984 people (2.3 per cent) harmed themselves in the study period, with cases higher among women, those whose parents had mental illness and individuals from poorer families. Exposure to an average of 19 microgram/m3 or more of particulate matter each day was associated with a 48 per cent higher chance of self-harming later in life, compared to children exposed to an average of 13 microgram/m3 per day or less. And for every 5 microgram/m3 increase in exposure above 19 microgram/m3, the risk of self harm rose by 42 per cent. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: pollution, kids, exposure, pollution, self-harm, development
By- Tejas Maheta
When attempting to summarise the current performance and future portents for the South Asia economy, it's arguable that most of the region's nations are doing relatively well.
Malaysia offers a relevant case in point, as despite combatting Covid-19 whilst also dealing with a global oil price crash and political instability, the nation is poised to record economic growth of 0.5% by the end of 2020.
Sure, this is noticeably down on the initial 2002 forecast of 4.8% growth, but it needs to be considered against the backdrop of an unprecedented combination of socio-economic and geopolitical challenges.
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Similar trends have been reported in Vietnam and Hong Kong, the former of which has recorded no coronavirus deaths at all and remains one of the few nations on course to achieve economic growth this year. But which nations are really leading the recovery in this region, and what should we expect going forward?
Surviving Covid - Currencies and Stimulus Packages
Of course, one thing that unites these nations is the proactive rollout of generous stimulus and quantitative easing packages, with Malaysia having provided an RM295 billion injection into the economy.
Of this, an estimated 15% (approximately RM45 billion) is a direct fiscal injection in the government, with the remaining capital introduced in the form of slashing base interest rates and managing inflation.
Hong Kong has also introduced several rounds of quantitative easing measures since February, with April's iteration providing an HKD120 billion relief package and taking the total government stimulus investment to HKD290 (which equates to 9.5% of Hong Kong's gross domestic product).
In the case of both Malaysia and Hong Kong, these measures have also helped to boost the value of domestic currencies. The Hong Kong dollar rose for the fifth consecutive day last week, for example, while the HK Monetary Authority sold a further HK£3.72 billion of local currency and continued to boost their capital inflows as a result.
The Malaysian Ringgit has also performed relatively well against major currencies of late, although it faces additional challenges in the form of the recent global oil price decline.
So, although crude oil prices have recently rebounded slightly, Malaysia's currency value has been impacted by rising capital outflows and forced to trade within an increasingly narrowing range.
Common Ringgit notes Image source: wikimedia commons
A Look Ahead - What Can we Expect?
Asia was the region first affected by Covid-19, and therefore it stands to reason that its nations should have commenced their recovery quicker than those in Europe and the US.
Interestingly, the shoots of recovery may be green in more ways than one, with the Export-Import Bank of Korea leading the return of Asian green bonds in the primary financial market.
Also Read: Zimbabwe Ends Its Interim Currency
Of course, the idea of sustainable finance and investment has been a hot-button topic in Asia for a while now, while we've also seen a significant increase in demand for Green, Social and Sustainability (GSS) bonds in recent times.
This followed the introduction of a 700 million Euro green bond and Korea's pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (following hot on the footsteps of the UK).
With these points in mind, there's clearly the potential for Asia to build on its relative strength and initial Covid-19 recovery by investing in sustainable assets and building a considerably greener future.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains commercial links)