39. Many tribal people [ADIVASI] have started doing farming on a very large scale. What is its reason? What change has taken place in the life of an adivasi?

39

The labourer earns higher wages if there is a rise in the agricultural production. It is natural. But today I am going to tell you a very important thing.

Water management work was done on a very enormous scale in Saurashtra. Its outcome was that PIYAT area of land- area of land to be irrigated- increased. Hence a demand for more and more people arose. More people were required to get involved in farming activities. Hence 5 lac tribal families got an opportunity to do farming. These tribal farmers were made 33% partners of the land-owning farmers. Instead of getting labour charge, these tribal farmers got 33% share of what the farmer earned. Land, tractors, bullocks and other farming instruments as well as seeds and fertilizers belonged to the farmer. Again it was the farmer who rented a house to the tribal landless farmer, his 33% partner and lent him the required amount of money. The tribal farmer laboured for the land-owning farmer and in return got 33% share of the land-owning farmer’s income. What activities had the tribal farmer to do? He had to irrigate the farmer’s field by Drip Irrigation Method and it is not very laborious. Then he has to do weeding work. When cotton crop is ready he has to collect cotton. If 20000 kg cotton grows, 6666 kg cotton is given to the tribal farmer. Its approximate cost is 3.5 lac rupees.

In the past these tribesmen used to do other laborious work such as construction of roads and buildings. They had to toil hard. They did not have proper house or shelter to live in. Compared to these living conditions, a tribal farmer lives a much more decent and comfortable life. In Saurashtra he can live in the farm house of the farmer for whom he works. He lives in an atmosphere which is better and healthier than the atmosphere in his native place. He gets all the basic needs and some comforts in the farm house where he can live with his family. He gets better financial returns for his farming activities than what he got in return for his hard tiring labour. For the last 15 years many tribal families are involved in such farming activities. Bus transport service is made available from every taluka headquarter of Saurashtra to the tribal people’s main places such as Naswadi, Dahod, Godhra, MP, Rajasthan and villages of Maharashtra. These tribesmen work on the fields of Saurashtra, adopting the modern agricultural methods. They have become very efficient and skilled farmers as they are now well versed in all the modern methods of technology-based farming. If there are 2 brothers in a tribal family, one of the 2 brothers looks after his own field and does farming in his native village. He is well versed in the modern farming methods of Saurashtra. In this way he is able to get rich crops and to reform his land. He has got rid of his narrow conservative mentality. He has widened the horizons of his knowledge. More than 5 lac tribal families of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have been doing farming with modern farming methods and have been living a very happy and comfortable life. Moreover their brothers dwelling in their own native village have also learnt and adopted modern farming techniques and methods from their brothers and as a result they have been successful in increasing their agricultural production.

The government of India and the intellectuals of India have made innumerable efforts to make these tribal families a part and parcel of the society. They have sincere concern for the tribal population. Today Saurashtra’s water management is honoured as a model for others to follow. This fact has benefited many tribal farmers. Many non-farmers have turned to farming. Many shepherds have started doing farming. Labourers belonging to various castes have also adopted farming as a means of their living. The living standards of all these persons have risen. They are living a comfortable life and their children are studying in good reputed schools.