The figures are grim, I know.
But what if I tell you that you can help stop this?
Would you want to take a small step in the right direction that can potentially save lives?
If yes, read on. I have a solution that you can be a part of.
Understanding The Problem First – Why Is Farmer Suicide On The Rise?
Farmer suicides have become a national issue in India. The issue received ample media coverage and public outrage.
Here’s how the events unfolded.
- The public demanded loan-waivers for farmers.
- The government succumbed to the pressure and delivered.
- People felt good about themselves.
- They believed they helped farmers.
- Media coverage fizzled out.
- The public’s interest in the matter declined.
But what we didn’t get was a long-term and stable solution.
Farmers are still taking their own lives.
Waiving off loans was never a concrete solution. It never will be.
So what’s the solution then?
Does my opinion have anything to do with the fact that I own and operate a hemp-based commercial organization?
It is the other way round.
Because I feel hemp is the solution to the problems facing the Indian agricultural sector, I started Hemp Foundation to do my bit towards the betterment of distressed farmers.
However, not many people (or even the authorities) realize the potential of hemp.
As an agrarian economy, it is shocking that the agriculture sector hasn’t received much impetus or improvement, especially since the industrial revolution.
The problem stands as it is. Even when we have a solution right in front of us.
With skewed emphasis on traditional crops like cotton, farmers are continuously pushed over the edge.
They can either leave their farms to join the manufacturing or service sector. Or they can perish.
Before I tell you how hemp is the solution, let me outline the problems.
After having examined the situation, here are the five main problems that I have noted in the Indian agricultural sector. (All of which can be solved by cultivating hemp for clothing, as you’ll see later.)
- Lack Of Water Management
Contrary to popular belief, India has enough supply for water for irrigation purposes. But what we don’t have is the right management machinery.
Farmers either don’t get enough supply of water, or they don’t get it at the right time. Heavy dependence on rainfall, which isn’t in our control, is the biggest cause of crop failure.
We need a crop that can do without us having to arrange for water.
- High Cost of Insecticides, Pesticides, and Fertilizers
I am yet to understand why farmers spray their fields with excessive insecticides, pesticides, and fertilizers.
A recent study, conducted by researchers at IIT Bombay, IIM Nagpur, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, suggested a lack of information about the proper use and a will to ensure nothing goes wrong with their crop is what drives high usage of these chemicals.
While over the top use of chemicals hardly does any good to drive up the yield or its quality, it definitely drives up the cost of cultivation.
But I don’t blame the farmers for this. Agriculture is a gamble, after all. You never know what disease or pest might attack your crop. And Indian farmers just want to be cautious. Things would have been different if the farmers were sure that their crop would be safe from disease and crop-destroyers.
- Disguised Unemployment and Lack of Modernisation
In India, families that work together stay together. Well, that is what is believed.
A farm that requires, say, five modern machines and two people to overlook cultivation has five people hustling on it with no or at max one modern machine.
People think they are gainfully employed. But they aren’t actually providing any value. Lack of modern machines and dependence on labor, on the other hand, further negatively impact the yields.
Again, I cannot blame Indian farmers for that.
They neither have money to buy the machines they need, nor they have other employment alternatives.
Sometimes, even the size of land holdings also isn’t big enough to warrant the use of these modern machines.
Most crops don’t match the capital-labor availability ratio of the country, and farmers have little to do about the matter.
- Overdependence on Some Crops
Close your eyes and think of a farm in India.
What crop did you imagine?
Either wheat, rice, or cotton, right?
Your image is skewed towards only a handful of crops because that’s actually true.
Indian farmers, in a bid to maximize earnings, don’t diversify their cultivation. They just grow the one crop they believe is ‘in-demand.’
This results in an over-production of that crop, a reduction in its price due to excessive supply, and then a cycle of debts, depression, and death for the farmers ensues. This is while other crops get sidelined and remain underutilized.
- Borrowings From The Informal Sector
Indian farmers lack the paperwork and the collateral to get loans from banks. That’s why they borrow from moneylenders.
These moneylenders have a parasitic business model. They charge high interest rates on loans that they give out without the legal paperwork.
When the farmers fail to pay back the loans, they resort to extortion, take ownership of farmlands, and turn farmers into slaves.
This socio-economic oppression is what ultimately pushes farmers closer to the noose.
Devising a Solution – Moving Away From Suicide – Step By Step
When the problem is outlined, the road to the solution becomes well-lit.
Now that I’ve explained the ingrained problems of the Indian agricultural sector that ultimately result in farmer suicides, I believe you are in a better position to understand how hemp is, in fact, the solution for farmers’ suicides.
Source: Hemp Foundation’s database
‘Hemp is the solution’ isn’t merely a hunch that drives me. I have legitimate reasons backing me up.
- Hemp Isn’t A Thirsty Crop
It requires less water to grow and can be completely rainfed. No irrigation management? Not a problem if you are cultivating hemp. Rainfall would be enough to get your crop blooming.
- Hemp Resists Weeds, Insects, Diseases, and Pests
Hemp is a strong crop. It will survive and thrive on its own. It is naturally disease-free. And farmers don’t need to sell an arm and a leg to buy insecticides, pesticides, or even fertilizers to grow a healthy crop of hemp.
- Hemp Farming Doesn’t Demand High-End Farm Machinery
It needs fewer machines and more people who like getting their hands dirty in the soil. It fits India’s capital-labor availability situation perfectly.
- Hemp Requires Less Land and Has A Higher Yield
Instead of growing acres and acres of cotton to cloth the country, enough hemp can be grown on much less land.
- Growing Hemp has Several Other Advantages Too
- It doesn’t damage the soil and can be grown consecutively for up to two decades.
- Its long roots bind the soil, preventing erosion.
- It doesn’t strip the land of essential nutrients.
- It is a quick crop and only needs 90 to 120 days to grow.
- It is a carbon-negative crop.
I could literally go on and on about this.
The Problems In The Solution – Growing Hemp Isn’t A Shortcut to Saving Lives
I’d be lying if I said growing hemp is a solution with no loopholes or possible problems.
I have visited hemp farms across the length and breadth of the U.S., and I didn’t just see the positives. I saw the dark side as well.
And those problems can (and most definitely will) manifest themselves in the Indian context too.
The two biggest challenges facing hemp cultivation are: Lack of Proper Support and Lack of Demand-Side Awareness.
High Hopes Spell Disaster – The Unfortunate Case of First Time Hemp Growers in The US
When President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill and hemp was legalized in 34 American states, first-time hemp growers expected raining profits.
That, however, never happened.
Data in journals and the information publicized by hemp advocates were highly exaggerated. That’s the curse of statistics, I believe.
The per acre yield of hemp was reported to be $40,000 to $50,000 (Compared to $1,000 for corn).
But those figures were for the final hemp product. Not just the raw material.
Farmers bet their farms and lives on the super crop. They didn’t realize that they need to do something more than just grow hemp to get those kinds of profits.
Hemp is Associated With Marijuana – Do People Really Want Clothes They Think Are Made of A Drug?
I know you were itching to ask if hemp clothes would give you a high.
Well, they won’t.
Hemp and marijuana are both members of the Cannabis Sativa plant family. But they aren’t the same.
Hemp is taller, has a THC of less than 0.3%. Such a low THC content means it won’t give you the feeling of euphoria that is associated with smoking pot.
You know it now. Most people still don’t.
That’s why people don’t want anything to do with hemp or hemp clothes or even the 50,000 other uses that hemp can be put to.
Filling The Gaps – Taking A Plunge Towards Betterment With Hemp
Again, as the problem is outlined, finding a solution is no herculean task.
Hemp Founding Is Extending Help In A Way That Actually Makes A Difference
Here’s what I am doing to solve the problems that mar hemp cultivation and come in the way of preventing farmer suicides.
The Indian government has legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp in Uttrakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh.
Hemp Foundation sources raw hemp from the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR).
Source: Hemp Foundation’s database.
Caption: Hemp cultivation in the IHR for Hemp Foundation.
And that’s how we make sure that hemp growers get the profits they expect, the profits that reports and studies predict.
Farmers want to work in the fields. They don’t want to look after the processing of hemp fabric from the crop, the designing and production of hemp clothes, and its marketing and sales.
So we do that for them.
These efforts, on our part, provide employment and a sense of independence to the villagers in Uttrakhand, especially the women who make a major part of the workforce in hemp cultivation.
By standing behind hemp growers, we save them from uncertainty. They don’t have to sell their yield at rock bottom rates when we are ready to pay them a fitting price, a share in our profits from the wonder crop.
Here’s How You Can Plug The Last Gaping Hole And Stop Distressed Farmers From Ending Their Lives
Unless you demand hemp clothing, we won’t be able to source hemp from the IHR for producing hemp fabrics.
And unless we do that, farmers won’t be able to shift to hemp and wriggle out of the clutches of poverty, debt, and depression.
- No, the fabric isn’t coarse. Proper processing makes it smooth and comfortable to wear.
- It is a breathable fabric.
- It protects you from the UV rays too.
- You can buy a lot of hemp blend fabrics as well.
- It dyes well, and color and pattern choices won’t be an issue.
- And as we have already established, it is legal and won’t give you a high.
Go buy Indian hemp clothing items today. And when you do that, know that you are potentially saving a farmer from ending their own life.