India Today in its recent issue has published a heartening cover story ‘Changing face of rural India’. While one can see the glimpses of emerging India in metros and other cities of the country pretty easily, it is difficult to get the right views of the success stories of rural India that lives in about 6, 38,000 villages. Even most in urban India hardly know about the developments in rural India.
The schemes such as NREGS have helped the landless households. Bharat Nirman has considerably improved the infrastructures, be it road connectivity or rural electrification, which have impacted overall economy of the rural India. The unique expansion of mobile phones is further aiding to revolutionize the rural economy.
The earnings of the farmers have gone up significantly because of the enhanced minimum support price of the produces. Since 2004, the government has hiked procurement prices for paddy from Rs 580 per quintal to Rs 1,030 and that of wheat from Rs 620 to Rs 1,100.
Productivity or yield also has increased, though the potential is still much more if compared to China or developed countries. For example, India’s per hectare yield of paddy has increased from 668 kg to 2,203 kg since 1950 with Punjab’s at top with 3,800 kg/ha , but Bihar at 1,400 kg/ha. China’s average yield is 6,336 kg/ha, and new strain developed has already achieved 10,500 kg/ha that is ultimately is targeted for 13,500kg/ha. On wheat Punjab has hit 4,200 kg/ha, but France is at 6,740kg/ha. Gujarat’s farmers have increased cotton yield six fold in nine years from 175 kg per hectare to 798 kg more than the e world average of 787 kg/ha. Productivity has come because of better seeds, right amount of fertilizers, and water at appropriate time, and also better insecticides if required.
Farmers have started increasing their earnings from switch over to new and profitable crops as well as adapting to new technologies such as drip irrigation or micro-sprinkler systems and experimenting with better farming practices. With better road connectivity, the switch over from the traditional crops to cash crops such as vegetables, flowers, and fruits have provide better and regular earnings. Many progressive farmers have started making the farming run as business and have shaken off the old myths. For example, in many villages the farmers never sold milk and milk products, but today they have started considering that as additional means of household earning. So is the case with vegetable farming that was reserved for some specific castes. The plateuing of the productivity of traditional crops such as paddy and wheat have made them think to find ways and means to improve the earnings.
Barabanki, a district in UP became pioneer in growing mint (for menthe oil). After paddy and wheat season, the farmers grow mint in the offseason between March-June with added earning. And today India is the largest producer and exporter of the oil. Surprisingly, as I wrote earlier, my in-law family in Bihar also followed the practice and got benefited. A village in Telangana (Andhra) has tasted ample prosperity by producing red jowar seeds.
And one can feel and see the affluence in rural India in number of tractors, motor cycles, and modern houses with all electrical gadgets that one normally sees in urban India. And it gives me an immense pleasure to read such cover stories.
The unscrupulous politicians can’t hold the rural India behind.