Apna nimbu: Kahaan pahunchega?

Since there has been a lot of back and forth about our lemons, on Facebook, on our blog and in e-mails to us, we thought we should clarify/consolidate, and carry on the conversation.

If a solution was required to our personal lemon problem, then e-commerce or organic marmalade would have provided one. Even so, we strongly feel that surely these lemons should be consumed locally, by our neighbours and others from nearby who need lemons to pickle or juice or…

But the problem is not a personal one but rather a systemic one: which is that primary producers of all hues seem to be trapped by a broker mafia into becoming sweat shops for faraway customers who outsource their every requirement (and responsibility).

So perhaps, I need to say, with Wendell Berry, All you who eat; eat thoughtfully. Eating is a political act. Where you get your food, where it is cooked and who cooks it, and how you eat it: all of this contributes to the solution.

Farmers need every encouragement to grow food, not cash. As things stand, what Wendell Berry writes about 60’s America is true for India now: If you can get into a profession; why, then you must not be a farmer. If you can move to the city, why,then you must leave the country. If you can work the “miracle” of industrial progress, then you must do so, even if it means the theft of energy from posterity. (Posterity can’t complain!)

The countryside is no longer a place to come home to; it is a place to leave. That needs to be turned around.

landscape card


4 Responses to “Apna nimbu: Kahaan pahunchega?”

  1. Godfrey Says:

    you have indicated something I would like to understand bettr

  2. T.S.Ananthu Says:

    So beautifully put, Sunder.

  3. Stanley Says:

    Dear Sunder and Sonati,

    It was nice to read the lemon story.

    The subject is very complex and sharing some insights..

    This is the story of every farmer and producer.

    We grew many things in our farm two decades ago and when the produce came,it was always difficult to sell.we still grow things but the story is the same.

    The demand supply economics is very complex.

    A little shortfall in production spirals up the cost and a little surplus means a crash in prices.There is no rationale to the cost of production or consumers affordability.

    The traders almost always go unhurt and book profit in the upward or downward movement of prices like the stock market.

    When the prices go down,they make an extra buck with financing the farmer who is on the verge of a suicide at interest cost many times the lending cost of banks.

    Every year farmers commit suicide and the consumer or the public at large are generally indifferent to the plight of the farmer.

    I have observed another interesting phenomenon in the farm sector.

    There is a huge inventory of idle tractors.

    farmers got carried away with the advertisement of the companies and the banks were happily funding .every village has surplus tractors today with no job to do.

    In the process,the companies made money,the dealers made money and so the banks and financial institutions.

    The conutry is excited about the growth in manufacturing..

    The burden of depreciation is on the farmers.

    I once tried to grow some sugarcane in the farm.there was a sugar mill who was supporting the crop with no commitment on buy back price.they funded through fertilisers and through a nationalised bank

    The government subsidy was availed by both the bank and the mill selling us the fertilizer and when the crop came the price did not meet the cost of production.

    The general perception among the urban crowd is that the tax paid money is wasted on subsidies.we have experts on channel discussions who are only worried about the investors confidence in the ‘fundamentals of the economy’.

    The speculative trade is happening in agri produce now.

    This will result in a spiralling up of the cost and make the food produce unaffordable to the consumer.

    The fundamental problem is the hands off attitude every where as you have shared.

    The consumer,the traders ,the financial institutions ,governments and so on.

    The average middle class family spends more money on mobile phone and television for the entertaintment component than rice ,dal and vegetables.the priorities are different…

    Probably when small ecosystems where the producer,consumer and the service providers in value addition and logistics come together ,there is some hope for a sustainable food production caring for the producer,ecology and the consumer..

    But a serious effort on the ‘real fundamentals ‘ demands immediate attention and is both an exciting and uphill task.



  4. santosh, rishi valley Says:

    I would like to share something. I must have been about 6 or 7 years old and my sister must have been 4 years old then. The year would be 1978. My father (a farmer) had gone from my village to the market at Hassan, karnataka to sell a huge sack load of Coriander leaves. When he went to the market yard, the traders there quoted ridiculously low prices for the coriander. In a moment of sheer frustration and anger, my father took the produce and dumped it in front of the temple bull so that the bull can eat it. When he came back, we, the kids were very disappointed to see him come empty-handed. Whenever my father came back from the town he would bring us goodies from the bakery. That day was not to be so. To this day I remember the expression on my fathers face.

    I am afraid things haven’t changed much for the farmer to this day………………….

    I guess in a matter of a few decades our villages will have only the older inhabitants left behind to fend for themselves. There won’t me much left of the rural-social-cultural fabric that is still there today.

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