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."

POINT OF NO RETURNS

Ratanlal's despairing circumstance throws

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from India Today

India Today4 min read
A Tale Of Two Bihars
Rahimbigha, nestled in the foothills of Khakhaunda Pahad in Bihar, is a picturesque and mostly peaceful village in the Nawada district of Bihar. Especially when compared to its Maoism-hit cou­sin across the mountains, Koderma in Jharkhand. But every
India Today4 min read
Rakhigarhi | Burying The Lede
The enduring mystery of the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) just became a little less mysterious last week. Or did it? The carefully coordinated near-simultaneous release of two long-awaited papers, analysing the DNA of ancient Harappans (and others)
India Today1 min read
Roads: Miles to Go
The Journey So Far More state highways will be developed by the NHAI under the National Highway Development Programme. With its AAA rating, it has access to capital at much cheaper cost. Road project allocations dipped in FY19 to 5,493 km-a five-year