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Decades of ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ and yet, farmers struggle to make ends meet

2020, year of the pandemic: How tribal farmers in Tamil Nadu are coping with losses "The farmers' protest that is happening in Delhi is for justice. If we get this justice, we will be able to get the benefits we need," says Vijayakumari, a farmer from the hills of Kalvarayan in Tamil Nadu. Alongside her husband Sahadevan, the year has brought about unprecedented challenges, creating a worrisome cycle of debt. From her tapioca crop not yielding enough returns, to her tomatoes being sold at a measly Rs 10 per kg, profits were far from sight. Despite making several trips to the market, Vijayakumari still had to throw away a good portion of the crop or feed it to her cows. Rains, which is the primary source of irrigation for Kalvarayan farmers, were also incessant for five months, and coupled with cyclones, destroyed most of the crop. Thanks to the pandemic, they were also unable to rely on their additional source of income as migrant workers in the pepper plantations of Karnataka and Kerala. This means struggling hard to find Rs 10,000 to send to her son studying in Chennai, with no crop damage compensation whatsoever. Fourteen years since the FRA came into force, farmers from tribal populations across the country are yet to benefit from a majority of government schemes, such as damages for crop loss due to natural calamities. The process of getting land use claims under the FRA approved are dismissed for a variety of inconsequential reasons, from misspelt names to lack of documentation. The government seems keen on complicating the process set out to help farmers such as Vijayakumari than to extend actual help. There is an urgent need to address this disconnect between tribal farmers like Vijayakumari and the government, failing which this cycle of penury, where just aiming for below the bare minimum income as the norm will continue. Read the full story by Greeshma Kuthar at ——————————————— In 2020, the COVID 19 outbreak upended lives and livelihoods in myriad ways. The novel coronavirus threw up new and unprecedented challenges, especially for people from marginalised sections of society. Through this multi-part series, Firstpost explores how individuals from different walks of life lived through the year of the pandemic.
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