Eastern UP chosing mechanical over manual farming

Amit Dwivedi
Special Correspondent, CNS

Farmers in Eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) are increasingly chosing costlier mechanical ways of farming over less-expensive manual ways. Why?

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“Mechanical harvesting is easy and less time taking. At main harvesting time its become very tough to get the labourers at right time. And if the harvesting process will get late it can harm our crops due to hail storm and heavy rains. Due to these factors big and even small and marginal farmers are also moving towards mechanical harvesting” said a farmer living in eastern part of UP, Gyan Chand.

In Indian economy, especially in the Indo-Gangetic plain, faming of rice-wheat crop is a key to food security. Rice-wheat rotation has emerged as the most important food production system in the eastern UP too.

Besides being a mainstay of food security system of India, it provides livelihood to million of families. The sustainability of this system is, however, threatened by decline/stagnation in productivity, dwindling water resources, multi nutritional deficiencies, high energy input, declining soil health and other environmental problems.

Recently, prevalent tillage and residue management practices employed in this system have become a critical issue because of escalating energy cost, environmental pollution and loss of plant nutrients caused by burning of crop residues.

Gorakhpur district of Eastern UP gives us hope for the production of wheat and paddy since it has a sizable acreage which generates the potential income and employment in this region.

Traditional manual harvesting practices incorporated all the merits to supply fodder to livestocks without spoiling the soil health and environmental status.

Where as the only merit of mechanical harvesting is to reduce the cost expenditure per acre.

Looking to these facts the report of Gorakhpur Environmental Action Group (GEAG) attempted to do a comparative analysis of losses of residue burning and its consequent effect on the soil vis a vis manual labour harvesting of paddy and wheat.

By employing mechanical operation for harvesting of wheat it was estimated that there will be an expenditure of Rs. 1725/acre where as, by manual operation for harvesting of wheat the expenditure will be Rs. 1850/acre.

The cost of harvesting of paddy by mechanical means was estimated to be Rs. 1725/acre where as the cost by manual operation was estimated to be Rs. 1250/acre.

Not only farmers should adapt manual harvesting to save more livestock and reduce pollution, government should also encourage farmers to adapt manual harvesting over mechanical one. But the reverse is taking place.

Amit Dwivedi

(The author is a Special Correspondent to Citizen News Service (CNS). He can be contacted at: [email protected])