A recently conducted survey by Swaraj Abhiyan, a farmer’s activist group led by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, projects a dismal picture of India’s primary sector. According to the study, the drought hit districts of Bundelkhand region are facing a near to famine condition. The assessments were made based on five parameters viz the impact on food and nutrition, employment, cattle, the extent of crop damage and availability of relief options.
Deficient rainfall and the lack of irrigation facilities are hurting the growth of major crops, with soya bean been the worse hit, followed by moong, bajra and jowar. People are also found to make a steep cut on their dietary intake, especially with respect to protein food. Pulses, milk, meat and vegetables and other nutritious items are missing from majority’s meals. This of course adds to the grave situation of India hosting the largest number of malnourished children under the age of five.
Lack of safe and sufficient drinking water is another issue. The depleting quality and quantity of ground water resources compounds it. Near to 40% people complains of the insufficiency. The lack of hand pumps and the existing but damaged ones, steals a big chunk of women’ time in collecting water.
Cattle population is also severely affected with about 88% decline in the milk yield of cows and buffaloes. Cattle feeds are also scarce and some of the cattle are dying from poisonous fodder.
The survey points to the serious flaws in the agriculture and climate change policies of the government. Though there can be some sort of immediate relief with measures like the import of pulses, the need of the hour is long time and stable policies. It is also necessary from the part of the authorities to ensure that drought packages reach the deserving hands and not the exploitative middle men. Strict monitoring of the efforts in a targeted manner is needed, for compromising with food security can prove disastrous for the country’s holistic development.