India Today

Bitter Harvest

Despite record production, crippling inadequacies in infrastructure are making horticulture an unviable option for the Indian farmer

Ratanlal, a marginal farmer from Rasoolpur village in Uttar Pradesh's Bareilly district, is distraught. His cauliflower crop sold at the nearby Mirganj market at a rupee a kilo. To what end, then, does he toil, he wonders. "My wife and two children worked with me on the farm all day. We earned not even Rs 500 in all. Add to that the cost of seeds, urea, diesel, pesticide and transport; I didn't even recover my investment," rues Ratanlal whose farm, like most in the village, is just about an acre.

Rasoolpur has a hundred-odd farmers. More than 90 per cent of them grow vegetables and fruits. Potato, cauliflower, chilli, banana and onion. Not by choice, though. "Our farms are so tiny. If we grow paddy, wheat or sugarcane, what will we eat the year round?" asks Ratanlal. "Growing vegetables is labour-intensive, but the crop cycles are shorter."


Ratanlal's despairing circumstance throws

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