Prahalad Wahane, an 80-year-old farmer, father of Tejram and Leeldhar, Ridhora, Nagpur, Maharashtra.
Leeladhar Prahalad Wahane (right), works in a school, Ridhora, Nagpur, Maharashtra.
Native Picture: How much money would you make then as compared to now?
“When has the farmer ever made money? It is the traders who make the money not us, we supply them with the harvest and they enjoy it. People fall at your feet till they get into power and once they are in power it’s a different story. It’s the same with the traders or anyone else. I’ve lost interest in farming, my son died a couple of years ago and now I’m waiting for the bank people to come and take everything we have.”
I’ve been a farmer all my life, I don’t do anything else. Farming now has completely changed, the new seeds are as unpredictable as it can get. At least I knew the seeds then, we stored them, now the seeds that are being forced upon us are the ones in the packets. We would save the seeds from the cotton we would harvest, now you don’t find those seeds at all, just go to the market and buy the seeds. And it’s the same with everything, we don’t have seeds.”
Benefits of farming
Native Picture: Where are the native seeds?
“When farming fails for 5 years straight and you can’t repay the loans, there is no option. In ten acres of land, we grow soya bean, cotton, and turmeric. When your input cost is much more than what we get back then there is a problem somewhere. Tejram Prahalad Wahane, my elder brother, committed suicide recently. He didn’t speak much about the stress he was going through, all he would say was, ‘It’s looking a bit tough to repay the loans.’ The loans were of 5 lakhs from the banks and some more from the local moneylenders. The money was spent on buying inputs for the land and having a borewell dug, which did not yield water. The 3 lakh loan he took from ICICI bank went up to 5 lakh and 2 lakh loan from the cooperative bank went up to 3.5 lakh.”
Native Picture: How is the situation now?
“Now the situation is the same, nothing much has changed. Farming is not viable at all. We did not get the rains when needed and it has rained so much that our crops are damaged.”
Native Picture: Do you plan on farming in the future?
“I don’t know, I really see no benefit in farming.”
The compensation for farmer’s suicide is not fair at all. My father is quite old and cannot farm anymore, my brother took the loan in our father’s name as we did not have enough money to make the transfer in the land papers. So when my brother committed suicide it was not considered a farmer’s suicide so we don’t get any compensation that the government gives. We did get Rs 30000 out the Rs 100000 which was given but nothing else and the fixed deposit of Rs 70000 which is in the name of his wife and three children. The kids go to school and his wife works on the farm. This is about it.
Native Picture: Have the people from the banks stopped coming to your house?
They keep coming or send SMS but we don’t have the money to pay. Our loan repayment entirely depends on us getting a good harvest and we do all we can to get a good harvest, unfortunately, everything is dependent on external factors.” Leeladhar Prahalad Wahane works as an admin at a school in Ridhora, Nagpur, Maharashtra.