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Farmers are our backbone; stop exploiting them: Ganesh Kumar MLA  

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By Suresh Unnithan

Thalavoor: There is no dispute that the farmers are the largest electorate in India. Over 800 million of the country’s 1.43 billion people depend directly or indirectly on agriculture. This is about 16 percent of the country’s $2.9 trillion economy.  Though we clamorously claim to be the fifth largest global economy, majority of our peasant community is battling poverty. According to statistics available fourth voter is a farmer, a distressed farmer at the edge of an economic collapse.  It is unfortunate, the political executive has been less considerate to them except eulogizing the farmers during the election era as “anna data” (food provider).

Ganesh Kumar (middle in blue shirt) with Jayan (extreme right in green shirt) and others

In my four-decade long journalistic journey, I could not meet many political leaders with genuine appetite to agriculture or farmers’ issues. Of course, there are a few exceptions like K C Tyagi who believes that agriculture is vital to India’s economy for 54.6% of the total workforce is engaged in agricultural and allied sector activities (Census 2011) and accounts for 17.8% of the country’s Gross Value Added (GVA).

However, after decades, today I had a chance to listen to a political leader who sounded sincerely concerned of the pathetic plight of the farmers in general. Ganesh Kumar, a Member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly (MLA) has serious concerns about the local growers being “exploited ruthlessly” by the cartels. I could feel his heart beating for the farmers in distress.

Today, the first day of Chingam (first month in the Kerala Calendar), is being celebrated as farmers day in the state and the MLA was invited  by the local agriculture officer, Jayan T Y and his team to inaugurate the celebration at Thalavoor, my native village.  Since I have recently taken a shift from regular journalism to serious farming, Jayan extended a personal invitation for the function.

I was genuinely amazed when Ganesh Kumar censured elected members of the local body for “not safeguarding” the farmers from touts who control the local market. “We are far from hunger, because they (farmers) sweat out in the fields.  To feed the humanity, our farmers fight all odds. Whether it is scorching sun or torrential rain they toil to feed us,” Ganesh expressed his serious affinity to the farmers.

Many feel, unlike any customary politicians Ganesh has sincere concerns to those in misery and he “knows how the farmers are being exploited by the group of middlemen who manipulate the local market for their profit.” To promote agriculture and help the growers Jayan says his office is “ever ready to extend any possible support to those willing to take cultivation seriously.”  Yes, he walks the talk. The day I telephone him about my extra “adventure” in agriculture the officer personally visited the plot  and expressed his eagerness to help us promoting tilling. It seems, like Ganesh Kumar, this officer is also passionate to farm and farmers.

John F. Kennedy has said many years ago “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”  We need to rewrite this status of the growers and make all feel as George Washington said “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.”  

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