To use an oft used expression, the predominantly agricultural country that Nepal is has to do much with the sad state of the sector despite all the inputs, often thought as insufficient, that have gone into it. That sustenance agriculture has been practiced by the majority of the farmers in the country is an indication of the perennial doldrums that they have to endure. Droughts and floods play their catastrophic roles in reducing the farmers to penury. Looked at this in this context, the recent woes of the farmers in the Terai districts of Bara, Parsa, Rauthahat, Sarlahi and Nawalparasi opting for maize in deep trouble when the cobs were sans the corn come to mind. They had supposedly used hybrid seeds in the hope of bountiful crop to offset their investment and labour intensive farming technique. The end result is that they are in a lurch and consider the Department of Agriculture (DoA) solely as being responsible for it. However, the DoA has its own reservations in this regard. It has put forth the logic that the seeds that failed to yield were smuggled and not registered with the Seed Quality Control Centre (SQCC) which is mandatory as per government rules. There may be a catch as to the type of maize seeds the farmers concerned had used to sow their farmlands. This raises the crucial issue as to the reach that the DoA has with the farmers, and possibly the user being unaware of the seeds needing the government certification to be sold in the open market. That may be an issue, but for the moment the glaring problem is that thousands of hectares in the Terai has produced nothing, which considering Nepal’s own food security, is a serious blow in the overall scheme of things.
As multinational companies are the major source of the hybrid seeds, the blame is being put on their shoulders. But, they have refuted it saying that only a limited amount was brought and sold to the farmers by them. This complicates the matter still further as to how the farmers concerned were conned into buying and planting the seeds that did not yield. It paints a grim picture of the farmers’ future. If drought or excessive rain had destroyed the crops, only nature would come under blame with no recourse to bring it to book. But, here we have a unique case of a whole expanse of land with non-producing mature maize plants. The farmers are at a loss as to how they would be able to get over the unassailable loss in the years to come. Many have been reported to have taken loans to opt for the so-called high-yielding maize variety only to have it turned a cropper.
It all brings us to the main point as to what mechanisms the government has in place to see that the farmers can bank on in times of adversity. Unfortunately, there seems to be no scheme in an agricultural nation to safeguard the interests of the agrarian population who often run foul out of devastation whether natural or man-made. Living at the edge cannot be the fate of the farmers who carry the additional duty of feeding others than their own family members. Even though the cost is high, the government has decided on only 20 crore rupees as relief to the affected farmers.
More people are taking to yoga if the thousands of learners attending the training program held by Yoga Guru Swami Ram Dev in Kathmandu is anything to go by. No doubt practicing yoga is good for health, and that is why it is gaining in popularity worldwide. What has made the learning sessions notable is that they are being attended by some of the top political leaders of the country and also film stars, singers and other celebrities as well, as reported by the media. Apparently, they too like the common man are very concerned about their health, and by enthusiastically joining the yoga training they have added to the mystic of yoga which is an ancient orient discipline.
The benefits from practicing yoga are immense, and it is even claimed that diseases like hypertension so far thought to be incurable even by allopathic medication is claimed to be possible to control and even cure through the practice of yoga. That it is picking in a big way gives reasons for the charm it has cast. Yoga Guru Swami Ram Dev should, therefore, be commended for initiating many learners to yoga that would help in the development of a healthy society.