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Full text of "Hunger"

ImituY Aawumvri hm 



I. A. R. I. 6. 

MQEPC-SH- n VR/fiJ-K fi-W- 1,000. 



BETWEEN 

US AND 

HUNGER 




BETWEEN 

US AND 

HUNGER 



G. MAYADAS 
M.A., B.Sc. {Edin.) 



41693 



1AFU 



GEOFFREY 
CUMBERLEGE 

OXFORD 
UNIVERSITY PRESS 



Oxford University Prens, Amen House, London li. C. 4 

(JLASIUIW NK\V VOKK TORONTO Mlil.lt'.lllKNli WKI.I.INlJTdN 
UOMltAY CALCUTTA MAMKAK KAKiVCHI CAl'K TOWN IIIA1UN 

Geoffrey Cumberlege , Publisher to thi University 



First -piiblislied \%\ 



I'rmted in India by Pyarelal Sak at Thi Times af India Press, Bombay, 
and published ly Geoffrey Cumberlega, Oxford University Press, Bombay \ 



TO THOSE WHO DESIRE TO SEE TIIEIR IIOMELAND 

STkONG AND PROSPEROUS, WJIO WOULD GLADLY 

GIVE ALL TIIEY HAVE IN THE CAUSE OE 

FREEDOM FROM HUM GER AND WANT, 

T1IIS BOOK IS DEDICATED 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 



Assistance and personal eucoiini^enicni reeeivod from Mr K. M. 
Munshi, Govurnor o£ Uttar Pradush ; from. Sir Kdward Mellauby, 
F.R.S. ; from Sir James Scott Waf.son ; from ti«; Direr.torale of 
Kconomics and StsitisfieM, Government of India ; Mr Hishan 
Man Singh of Katehpur ; Mr Masiin Vaugh of Allahabad, and 
Mr Boshi Son of Alniora, is aekno wiedged wii.li {.jtatitnde. 

I <un also yniteful to Mr S, SinRli for permission lo reiiroduee 
the picture of tho arte.sian well wliich fares page (i. r i and of (bo 
centrifugal pump facing pagt; !)7; and to Mr W, W. Meflroy of 
Texas for that of the bcri, opposite paye KO. The nraaiiiuitf plvofo- 
graphs aro l;lu; propert, y of tho Government, of Uttar .I'vadesU, mul 
tho trouble talam by Mr A, N. f U;i, Serrelary t:o tho Government 
for Planning and AgriuuUuve, in helping 111 e l" seleet them vh 
groatly appreciated. 

To thostaif of tho Oxford Uiiiversil.y I'rcss bas fallen the di Ilion II; 
task of oditinj; tho mauusenpt, a.ud tliis has beeu done. wifh com- 
mendable perspicaeity. 

C, M. 




P R E F A C E 



piKUE is anxiety in the air; not only because of the 
danger of anothcr workl war, but also because of the 
.growing world population and what appear to be 
diminishing food supplics, India has special cause to worry ; 
her population is growing so rapidly that unless something 
is done to make food production keep pace with the birth 
rate, the country's deficit production is bound sooner or 
latcr to have disastrous conscquences. The man in the street, 
the clerk at his desk, the labourer at the loom and the 
professional people ; all are affected by the present high 
cost of living, especially of food. 

What follows in these pages is intended to belp all thesc 
people, especially those of theni who are decply and sincerely 
interested in seeing India freed from hunger and want and 
from dcpendence upon costly imported food, to see light 
on a dark horizon. A brief analysis is attempted of the major 
causes of the present state of affairs and a way is inclicated 
whereby the fundamental obstacles to increased production 
can be overcome. Had the problems discussed here been 
insoluble, this book would not have been written. Had they 
not demanded a new approach, again it would not have. been 
written. But the administrators, politicians, professional 
men and woinen in every walk of life, and in particular the 
very large body of students from which will presently 
emergc the future custodians of the welfarc of this great 
country, need an awakening. The eyes of all who wish India 
well must be opened to the possibility of making the country 
cconomically strong by means of a sound, but inexpensive 
agricultural policy. Public opinion must be arouscd as never 
bcfoi'e to the critical situation which the country faces 
today, the evidence of which should be convincing to all 
but the most indifferent, cailous and short-sighted. Once 
aware of the danger, and given the will to work and the 
selfless desirc to see our country freed from want, there is 
no reason why, in addition to producing enough for the needs 
of our growing population, we should not have a substantial 
surplus left for export. There is no reason why there should 

vii 



bc hunger and nakedness and 110 rcason why our standard of 
living should not compare with that of other countrios. 

When after the. fall of Franco, and the. disaster <i{ Dunkirk 
in 1940, Britain's freedom was threatened by the grcatly 
superior Gorm an air force, ;i. bandful of British ainnou with 
a few war-plancs, some of them complctoly outdaied, facod 
almost cortain dcfeat. But snch was tin 1 spirit of those 
ainneu that the Buttlo of Britain was won against over- 
whehning odds and not only Britain but tho wholc world 
was saved from fascist doiniiiation. Some ol' thai. spirit is 
needed in India today, for tliis country fae.cs a worsc fa.li! 
than threatened Britain in tho. summer of 194.0. Freedom 
from hunger and want demands tho same self-saerilke, cour- 
age and frue services of cveryable-bocliedson and daughter of 
India as that given in the cause uf another kind of iieedoin. 
It demands iirni and, if neeessary, drastic action by the 
govennnent in power. Many patriots gave their lives in the 
causu of politicai freedom: Is it too mnch, to ex pet'.' I: thai: they 
should put: their shonlders to the wheel of progress ; that 
they should join in their Ihousands the Land Anny of India. ; 
that they should earry out the measnres necessary to defeat 
the speetrcs of hunger and want iu a, spirit of sellless service. ? 

For this book attempts to show liow oui' resources public 

and private— can be inobilized to break the. ehafns thai: lund 
Indiatopovertyanddegeneration.lt shows liow the eonti- 
inied wastage of the: countrys greatest. national assets can 
be stopped and how thi* harmful projudiecs bred by super- 
stition and age-old tradition can bu overcomc. 

Many Indiau and overseas friends have. for sonie ycars 
prosscd the writer to produce a book ineorporating his 
thirty-one years' experienee in the Indian Agricultural 
Service. Since rotirement lie has been engaged in niuning 
a small farin of his own near Lucknow. This farm, when it 
was acquired, was niostly useless ravine land sloping rapiclly 
down to a river. By auti-erosiou measnres and by the 
judieious use of manures, fertilizers and water, it is now 
an iutei'esting proposition and grows good crops of co.reals, 
roots, vegetablcs and iiuit. Working as a small farmer 
among neighbours who ar« also small farmers, there is much 
to learn and, having been aucccasful to the extent of winning 
a prize for wheat in the State crop competitions, without 

viii 



having made any investment in the land which his neigh- 
bours could not afford, the writer has withdrawn his first 
resistance to his friends' suggestions. So here it is, a book 
which embodies his experience not only in service but in 
retirement, and for whatever it is worth, it is at the disposal 
ol the country. 

The treatraent of each subject is by no means exhaustive. 
It errs in faet on the side of brevity, but a brevity with a 
purpose. So rnuch has becn said in recent years about the 
Indian food situation in journals and in the daily newspapers 
that the average person has become confuscd. What is 
wanted is a presentation of the subject in a concise and easily 
digestible form so that, whether the reade.r knows anything 
about farming or not, his interest will most certainly be. 
aroused in this most pressing problem. An attempt has 
therefore beon made in the pages that follow to present as 
true a pie ture as passible, in the first instancc of the country's 
present economic situation and secondly of the ways in 
which the wastagc of the liatioa's vast rural resourecs can 
be stopped. The appeal should not be to any one section 
of the, nation, but to everybody who is interested in bringing 
about a change for the bctte.r. 

Lucknow, C. M. 

September 1953. 



CONTENTS 



I The Gravity of the World Food 

Situation . . . . . . . . i 

II Waste Not, Want Not 7 

III The Conservation of Soil Wealth . . 14. 

IV Surplus Cattle and Other Crop Pests . . 28 
V The Consolidation of Holdings . . . . 37 

VI Reclaiming Land . . . . . . . . 45 

VII Dry Farming . . 59 

VIII How to Conserve Our Water Resources 77 

IX Fertilizers and Intensive Farming . . 90 

X Mechanization, the Man and the Bullock 107 

XI Reorganizing to Produce More . . . . 123 

XII Looking Ahead 136 



PHOTOGRAPHS 

An aerial view of bunded fieids 

The bandh or barrier faring page 16 

Typical bench terracing in the hills 

And on a gradually sloping hillside . . . . ■ . 17 

Bunding and afforestation in the Ganga ravines 

Fighting malaria • • 32 

The Sahiwal cow 

The Murrah breed of buffalo • • • - . . • ■ 33 

The beginning of erosion . . . 

and the end . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 

Erosion in the uplands 

Preparing for afforestation 49 

A sub-soiler about to enter the soil 

And one in operation . . . . . . . . . . 64 

Arhar, alentil 

An artesian well . . . . . . . . . . 65 

Lifting water with the ben 

A modern Persian Wheel 80 

A mechanically driven centrifugal pump 

The Saprar dam, Bundhelkhand . . . . . . 97 

Transplanting rice by the Japanese method 

A good crop of rice .. 112 

Fighting pyrilla in sugarcane 

A disc narrow 129 



CHAPTER ONE 

THE GRAVITT OF THE WORLD 
FOOD SITUATION 

.rofessor Dudley Stamp of the International Cotn- 
mission which is organizing a survey of the use of 
land throughout the world, has, amongst other people, 
expressed the opinion that food production is not keeping 
pace with the growth of the human family despite the 
advance of science. The rate at which this family is growing 
is alarming. Twenty million more mouths to feed each 
year or 60,000 to 70,000 more mouths demanding food as 
each day dawns, is a formidable prospect. 

In the world today it is estimated that if we could evenly 
spread the world's population over its entire surface, each 
individual would have about fourteen acres. But the surface 
of the earth is not all productive. There are huge tracts 
that are too cold ; others that are too dry and still otliers 
that are so mountainous or so rugged that they cannot 
produce food crops. If all the land capable of producing 
food was doled equally out to the people living 011 the earth's 
surface, each person would get about four acres. But if the 
land was well or scientifically farmed according to our 
present knowledge, it would only talce about an acre to 
produce enough food to feed one person adequately. 1 In 
tropical countries where rainfall and heat favour plant 
growth, the yields of crops like rice can be very high, so 
that the produce of an acre eau often feed more than one 
person. On the other hånd in a country like India where 
about four fifths of the cultivated area depends solely on 
rainfall and is not irrigated, much of the area can yield only 
one crop a year. It is worth noting here that while India's 
population stood at 357 millions at the 1951 census, the 
cultivated area of the same period was only about 244 
million acres. When it is considered that the rate of increase 

1 An estimate by Professor Dudley Stamp in. a B.B.C. broadcast 
of 1952. 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

of India's population is of the order of 5 million souls per 
annum, a rough average of various recent estimates, and 
that in 1971 the country will have to feed some 462 million 
mouths, the enormity of the task of attaining self-sufficiency 
in food is at once apparent. This is more or less the position 
in other Asiatic countries as well. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization in its World 
Outlook of 1950 1 stated that by 1951 the increa.se in worid 
food production would be barely keeping pace with popu- 
lation growth and that this was likely in some of the regions 
where fmprovement was needed most. India is one of these 
regions. 

Sir Alfred Chatterton states that ' Not only in India but 
in most of the densely populated regions of the tropics both 
in Asia and Africa, it is now generally recognized that there 
is a growing shortage of food, and that it is deficient in 
quality as well as in quantity. The margin of cultivation is 
steadily extending to poorer classes of land which yield 
crops of inferior nutritional value.' 2 He gives the following 
comparative statement of average yields in Ib. per acre 
of cereals and sugar in seven countries. 





Rico 


Wheat 


Sugar 


India 


1,300 


605 


2,400 


Japan 




3,000 


1,525 


3,340 


Egypt . . 




2,800 


.1,245 


3,380 


Canada . . 




— 


1,530 


— 


Hawaii . . 




— 


— 


18,800 


Java 




— 


— 


12,000 


Great Britain 




- — 


2,200 


— 



One conclusion from these figures is clear and that is that 

India is far behind the other countries in the list in per acre 

production of its main cereal crops of rice and wheat. Japan 

produces on an average some 2\ times as much rice and 

Canada %\ tunes as much wheat per acre as India does. 

The possibility of increasing India's per acre production of 

food crops substantially is of vital concern to the people 

of India and to the rest of the world. If , as Professor Dudley 

Stamp estimates, 3 one acre of scientincally farmed land is 

i World Outlook and State of Food and Agriculture, 19 SO (The Food 
and Agriculture Organization, Washington D.C., U.S.A.). 
3 An article in The Pioneer, Lucknow, 23 March 1952. 
' In his B.B.C. broadcast. 



GRAV1TY OF THE WORLD FOOD SITUATION 

capable of feeding one person, and if all the 244 million 
acres under cultivation in India were to grow nothing but 
food crops, then out of India's present 357 million people 
only 244 million people would be properly fed, and the 
remaining 113 millions would have to be fed on imported 
food to keep them from starving. 

By 1971, no less than 218 million people in India alone 
will face starvation. Can any prospect be more appalling ? 
And can India afford to eliminate the cultivation of jute, 
cotton, tobacco, tea, coffee and other non-food crops al- 
together in order to have 244 million acres under food crops 
alone ? At present the acreage devoted to the major non- 
food crops is about 19 million acres, and already there is a 
general clamour for more jute and more cotton. Sugarcane 
and all oilseeds, other than castorseed, have been classed 
as food crops for the sake of these calculations. If these 
crops were to be excluded, the area under food crops which 
would have to feed the 1971 population of 462 millions 
would be a mere 195 million acres or about 0-42 acre per 
person by that date. Whether the available acreage or a 
large part of it can ever be scientifically farmed remains 
to be seen. At present the available acreage very definitely 
is not farmed scientifically. 

Turning now to the so-called old fallow or culturable 
waste land in India as typical of some other Asiatic countries, 
recent land utilization statistics quoted by the Government 
of India 1 show that 93 million acres are culturable waste 
or fallow land. Another 64 million acres are under current 
fallow. There is no definition to tell us how near to or remote 
from marginal land this comparatively large acreage of 
culturable waste land of 93 million acres actually is. Is it 
land which wholly or in part has been abandoned by the 
farmers because of bad farming practices causing heavy 
loss of fertility ? Or is it land which has been largely scoured 
by soil erosion ? In any case it is safe to assume that most 
of it needs special treatment before it can produce food 
crops economically. This treatment may possibly entail 
drastic and expensive soil conservation practices, including 
the application of heavy doses of organic manure such as 

1 Land Utilization Statistics, Pre-war Avemge to 1948-49 (Ministry 
of Food and Agriculture, August 1951). 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

town compost, before the soil is ploughed up. In chapter six 
this question is discussed in some detail. 

In any case, irrigation would be necessary to make the 
land produce what is expected of it, namely yields com- 
parable with those obtainable say in China or Japan. 

In India, the main cereal crops of wheat, rice and barley 
have for some years been rationed for the 40 million people 
who live in towns, but for the 317 million people in rural 
areas there is no rationing. India has, however, been im- 
porting food worth 150 to 200 crores of rupees (£112 to 
£150 million) each year and has also been subsidizing this 
food to the extent of 40 to 50 crores of rupees each year in 
an effort to keep price levels from soaring too high. In the 
budget presented to the Government of India on the 23rd 
of May 1952, the food subsidy was not to be maintained as 
it would entail an exchequer expcncliture of Rs (JO crores 
and because ' if in addition to subsidizing milo, the price of 
food in industiial and other areas were to be given to the 
whole range of consumers, the cost would rise to about 
Rs 90 crores (£Q li million) a year'. Within a day of this 
announcement the prices of rationed cereals rose in the 
open market. It is yet to be seen what the consumer will 
have to pay for his cereals. Internal procurement of food 
grains has been none too satisfactory ; drought and fioods 
have played havoc over large tracts and the yield per acre 
of most cereal crops has fallen considerably since 1933-4, 
as the following official figures 1 will show. 



Year 


Acreage 


Production 


Yield per acre 


(thousands) 


(thousand tons) 


iu Ib. 


193G-9 (av.) . . 


183,753 


50,019 


663 • 6 


1943-4 


192,065 


51,055 


602 • 5 


1945-6 


197,537 


45,736 


518-5 


1946-7 


195,829 


46,143 


532 • 9 


1947-8 


191,537 


48,244 


564-2 


1948-9 


207,300 


47,849 


521-8 


1949-50 


215,994 


49,085 


515-2 


1950-51 


212,450 


45,489 


479-7 



1 The figures in the first two columns are taken from Area and 
Production of Principal Crops in Iitdia, Pre-wav Average, 1943-44 
and 1945-46 to 1950-51 (Ministry of Food and Agriculture, November 
1951) and the last column is calculated therefrom. 



GRAV IT Y OF THE WORLD FOOD SITUATION 

If we examine these figures we find that the pre-war yields 
per acre are higher by no less than 184 Ib. than those of 
1950-51. During these years the acreage under cereal crops 
increased by no less than 28-7 million acres, and this was 
accompanied by a deplorable drop in per acre yields. In 
1943-4 and every year since there has been a special effort 
to grow more food and the effort has apparently been 
successful in bringing more land under the plough, but 
completely ineffective in increasing the yield per acre. 
Whether this phenomenal drop in yields is the result of 
marginal land being put under the plough, or of soil erosion 
or deterioration caused by soil exhaustion, or is caused by 
combinations of these and other factors is difficult to say ; 
but the position calls for the immediate and most serious 
attention of all who wish to see India self-sufficient in food 
supplies. 

Not only has the yield per acre dropped, but disastrous 
consequences followed the 1947 partition of India. Internal 
strife in Burma had already stopped the export of some two 
million tons of rice to India and, with the creation of the 
State of Pakistan, India lost most of her valuable wheat- 
and rice-growing areas. In the wake of the terrible events 
of August and September 1947, came a phenomenally large 
influx of refugees from Pakistan into India. These millions 
of families, deprived of all their possessions, have added to 
the gravity of the food position, for they have to be fed on 
rationed food grains without being immediately able to 
assist in strengthening the country's food resources. Most 
of these unfortunate people have taken refuge in the large 
towns, imposing a heavy burden on the already severely 
taxed town rationing system. 

This grave situation is intimately linked with another 
burden. India has the largest number of cattle of any 
country in the world. At least one half of her 177| million 
cows, buffaloes and their kind are more or less useless either 
for milk production or as draft cattle. Religious sentiment 
is against cow slaughter and in consequence an enormous 
number of useless cattle feed on whatever they can get and 
much damage is done to growing crops by their roaming 
about the countryside. Thousands of bulls and cows have 
found their way into jungles adjoining cultivated land and 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

they are as fierce to deal with as any other wild animal. The 
farmers are powerless, and to these must be added an even 
larger number of deer (including blue bull), wild boar, 
porcupines, monkeys, rats, parrets, sparrows and ants. All 
this wild life is supported by whatever grows and is edible 
and generally it is the cultivated fields that are the main 
target of their depredations. 

Fragmented small holdings, wanton wastage of valuable 
organic manurial material, unrestricted multiplication of 
weeds and pests, dangerous soil erosion, inadcquate conser- 
vation and utilization of undergromid and other water 
resources, primitive agricultural accessories and an inade- 
quate agricultural policy with an unsuitable organization 
to carry it out, all add to the difiiculties of achieving 
self-sufiiciency in food. That there are solutions to these 
problems which are causing so much distress and which are 
leading at least one Asiatic country to starvation or bank- 
ruptcy or both, will become apparent to the reader who 
follows this book. There is no reason why, if certaiir very 
urgent and necessary measures are adopted, India should 
not produce enough food to adequately feed 500 million 
people and more. Indeed, the situation is far from hopeless. 
The agricultural potential of India has not been fully 
exploited yet by a long way. But it requires a well-planned 
policy and strength of purpose to carry it out, to achieve 
not only self-sufficiency, but the abundance and prosperity 
that the export of surplus agricultural produce brings. 




CHAPTER TWO 



WASTE NOT, WAJVT JYOT 

N annual increase in population of 5 millions or more, 
an already inadequate acreage under food crops, and 
»constantly decreasing production per acre, are not 
the only factors to trouble us. We also have to account for 
a scandalous amount of preventable wastage of soil, of soil 
food and of human food, in the held, in storage and cooked. 
Unless drastic measures are taken and taken very soon to 
prevent this criminal waste, no tightening of Indian belts 
will save the country from the dire distress towards which 
it is most certainly heading. 

Land Utilization 

Examining the position closely, let us see what the glaring 
instances of preventable waste actually are and how far 
one can reasonably estimate their extent. In 1951 the 
Indian Food Minister gave the following figures 1 indicating 
soil wastage: 'Out of our cultivable area of 400 million 
acres, 61 per cent is crop yielding; 16 per cent is current 
fallow ; 23 per cent is cultivable but now wasted. Out of our 
total cultivable area 123 million acres are being eroded or 
exhausted by ■primitive methods of farming. Only 48 million 
acres are irrigated: the rest depends upon a freakish 
monsoon. ' Only 61 per cent of the country's cultivable area 
can at present be regarded as providing for the country's 
needs of food and raw materials for industry and export. 
Only 61 per cent ! In 20 years the population is expected 
to increase to 462 millions, 218 million souls of which will 
face starvation, and while this is happening, the country 
is wasting 39 per cent of its cultivable area ! 

To adequately feed 462 million souls in 1971, India will 
require as many acres of land. In reality she has got only 
400 million acres of potentially productive land, 244 million 

1 K. M. Munshi : The Gospel of the Dirty Hånd (a collection of the 
author's speeches), p. 132 (Ministry of Food and Agriculture, April 
1952). 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

acres of which are already under cultivation. If tlie country 
could produce yields of rice comparable to those obtained 
in China or Japan and of wheat comparable to those of 
Canada, even 400 million acres wonlcl snffice for a popula- 
tion of 460 million people. But how are all the 400 million 
acres to be made adequately productive? The current 
fallows will tend to disappear under intensive cultivation 
and extendcd irrigation, but the 23 per cent of land which 
is cultivable but wasted, is quite auother matter. Much of 
this is rich alluvial soil needing drainage, anti-malarial 
measures, anti-erosion measures and mechanized farming. 
All of it is capable of producing food and the raw materials 
of industry, and yet it is wasted. And this picture of wastage 
of the greatest of all our national assets is not complete 
without adding to it the faet that no less than 123 million 
acres are being either eroded or exhausted. Erosion is to 
soil what tuberculosis is to the human bocly. If checked in 
the carly stages it can be cured, but if allowed to get a firm 
hold it kills. Yes, soil can be hilled just as human life can be 
taken. The top layer of rive or six inches of soil is the most 
valuable, because in it are millions of soil organisms busy 
creating plant food. The lower layers are not so rich, and 
as you dig deeper you come to the subsoil on which nothing 
will grow. In erosion, the top soil is the first to be swept 
away by natural forces, chiefly rainwater ; and, if unchecked, 
erosion kills the. productive power of the soil by removing 
from the held this top layer. Where erosion is apparent, the 
simple expedient of putting up some sort of resistance to 
the flow of rainwater is occasionally applied by intelligent 
farmers. But in the vast majority of cases, the erosion is 
almost invisible and requires systematic treatment. Of this, 
more later. 

Land Fertilization 

Losing soil productivity through preventable erosion 
is bad enough; but there are other and almost worse evils. 
One of these is the wastage of human and am'mal excreta, 
bones and ashes, and of all kinds of animal and vegetable 
organic matter. The main reason why the average yields 
of rice in China and Japan are more than double those of 
India is not that the Chinese or Japanese are better farmers 



WASTE NOT, WANT NOT 

than are Indians or that their soils are richer, but that tliey 
conserve human and animal excreta for the soil. If Indian 
farmers were to get over their prejudice against handling 
night soil to conserve it for use as manure, and were to 
convert even a quarter of the cattle dung produced into 
compost with the help of urine earth and the weeds which 
abound in the rains, the resultant effect on the productive 
power of our soils might make all the difference between a 
starving India and an India freed from want. 

India's production of cereals in 1951 was some 45 million 
tons per annum. We talk of a 7-2 million tons increase in 
production with the help of expensive irrigation schemes 
and the like, as a result of the Five Year Plan. If only a part 
of the money involved was to be spent on conserving all 
waste organic matter for the soil, India would probably 
be self-sufficient in food in a very short time and would quite 
possibly be exporting a surplus of her agricultural production 
in four or five years from the time that a country-wide drive 
was system atically put into effect. How such a step could be 
made effective, will be discussed later. 

Apart from the wastage of night soil in our villages, there 
is a colossal wastage of town sewage, which should be 
scientifically treated and used on suburban agricultural 
land. The farmers of China and Japan have realized the 
value of this material, and in Europe and America there are 
numerous sewage utilization schemes in operation, India, 
whose need for increased food production is' far greater and 
more urgent perhaps than that of any other country, is 
wasting this valuable source of national wealth and is 
instead spending vast sums of money on imported food, 
even then leaving her people underfed. 

Pests 

It is seldom realized how great is the annual national loss 
of food due to the depredations of insects, rats and wild 
animals. It is difficult to estimate these losses and yet the 
food situation demands that a body of experts should tour 
the length and breadth of the country to make just such an 
estimate. In the insect world, while entomologists are busy 
fighting locusts and the smaller insect pests of field crops, 
white and black ants are also responsible for heavy losses, but 

9 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

for these no effective remedy has yet been applied and no 
one seems to bother very much about them. White ants 
destroy the young roots of grain crops, often affecting the 
final yield by as much as 50 per cent. Black ants have been 
known to carry the ripe ears of wheat and barley into 
underground nests at the rate of about 20 Ib. per acre, 
during and irnmediately af ter the har vest. As if it was not 
enough for the grower to suffer these losses in the held, other 
insects follow the grain into village and town storage space. 
Completely unsuitable methods of storage are responsible 
for much of the annual loss in foodgrains, and a compu- 
tation should be made of this loss. The country's present 
output of cement is barely enough to provide for housing, 
but when the annual loss to the nation of valuable food- 
grains has been estimated, perhaps the State will see tit to 
provide enough cement for proper food storage also, and will 
then make it a criminal offence to store grain by out-dated 
methods. 

Rats are another serious pest to which adequate attention 
. has not so far been given. There is perhaps no single pest 
that causes more damage to foodgrains in storage or to 
crops in the held. Thirty years ago, two Indian entomologists, 
H. S. Pruthi and M. A. Husain, in a bulletin 1 on the subject, 
considered that 800 millions was a modest estimate of India's 
rat population. This estimate, made by Kunhardt, has 
recently been exceeded by 300 per cent by Dr K. B. Lal, 
an eminent Indian entomologist, who now estimates that 
the rat population of India is about 2,400 millions. The two 
former entomologists estimated that a rat consumes about 
two ounces of grain per day. At that rate, if all the rat 
population had access to our foodgrains, we would have to 
live on non-cereals, because every ounce of the grain pro- 
duced in the country would already be eaten up. Two 
thousand four hundred million rats would consume over 
52 million tons of cereals per annum if each ate 2 ounces. 
Fortunately for us, not all rats have access to foodgrains, 
and Dr K. B. Lal riglrtly considers that while a full-grown 
rat will consume 2 ounces, a baby rat will consume much 
less. An average of 1 ounce per day is a fairer estimate. 

1 Some Observations on the Control of Field Rats (Bulletin 135 of 
The Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, 1022). 

10 



WASTE NOT, WANT NOT 

The same authority considers that only about a tenth of the 
rat population has access to foodgrains. Even on this basis, 
the damage done is so great that if it could be prevented the 
country would be exporting and not importing cereals. To 
the actual grain eaten by rats must be added all that is 
otherwise destroyed ; for apart from the big godowns ' there 
are innumerable houses and petty shops all over the country ' 
which, says Dr Lal, 'are seldom talked about'. 

The time has surely come for a concerted effort, in every 
state of the Union, to destroy as many rats as possible by 
every means and as soon as possible. Rat traps, rat poisons 
both solid and gaseous, and all other effective methods 
should be extensively used. The new community projects 
now being launched in the rural areas of India could play 
their part in rapidly reducing the population of this and 
other pests. In our towns, it should be made incumbent by 
law for every owner of a godown or grain store to effectively 
use all means as are prescribed by law, to destroy rats — not 
just once in a while, but every day till the menace disappears 
altogether. There is ample expert advice available. 

There is no reason why f airly reliable estimates of damage 
done to food crops by other animal pests should not be 
reached by experts for each state of the Union. It would 
then be up to each state to secure the co-operation of the 
public by means of wide publicity in order to fight the 
menace. It is not necessary always to annihilate the pest. 
There are ways of dealing with the problem which need not 
upset the balance of animal life in Nature nor offend the 
sentiments of any section of the population. These are 
discussed in chapter f our. It will be necessary for the experts 
to determine which of the insects, birds or beasts are to bc 
regarded as seriously dangerous to food crops and to arrange 
them in order of importance. In some cases it may be found 
that the pest is also a predator, feeding on another pest. 
This may especially be the case with certain birds which feed 
on harmful insects. In destroying them, there may be the 
danger of upsetting the balance of nature. The problem 
will therefore need very careful handling. 

In assessing the damage done to crops or to grain in 
storage, it should be remembered that apart from the actual 
consumption of human food by animals, there is a high 

11 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

percentage of loss by wanton destruction. For example, 
if you watch monkeys feeding on the ears of green wheat, 
you will find that a number of ears and piants are left lying 
in the field, apart from those actually consumed. With the 
deer family, damage is done by the herds trampling down 
yoimg piants and by their lying down on them. This is in 
addition to considerable destruction caused by their feeding 
on cereal crops. Wild boar and porcupine will dig up a field 
of potatoes, sweet potatoes or even a cereal crop, leaving 
many piants and tubers uprooted. Parrots, crows and other 
birds descending on a held of maize or millet in cob, will 
nibble liere and there, scattering alrnost as much as they 
consume. 

So much is taken for granted in rural areas that the 
damage done to crops by the pests mentioned here often 
passes unnoticed by the Indian cultivator. The growers' 
defence against the ravages of these pests is meagre, Driving 
away wild and tame cattle or deer when the damage has 
already been done, making noises to frighten away wild pig 
and porcupine at night or sitting up on a high perch in the 
middle of a field of millet or maize are well known practices 
in the villages. But they are ineffective. Certain pests such 
as the field rat and the ant do their extensive damage silently, 
and the villager does not trouble himself very much about 
them. He cannot see the danger to the nation's food supplies 
presented by the ever-increasing numbers of various animal 
pests. It is for omcialdom to realize the danger and to take 
effective steps to reduce the damage to a minimum. The 
idea of utilizing a volunteer force of educated men and 
women in a Land Anny to help to deal with this and other 
urgent rural problems, is an excellent one, but to have it on 
paper or to talk about is one thing and to organize it for 
action is quite an other. Men and women must be organized 
into effective teams for each of the country's 700,000 
villages. And a vigorous recruiting drive for this Land Army 
should be started now. 

Waste 

Far too common examples of preventable waste are to be 
found at marriage feasts, club dinner parties, at the indivi- 
dual houses of the well-to-do, and in some public feeding 

12 



WASTE NOT, WANT NOT 

piaces. While the poor starve, many of us gorge ourselves 
with far more food than is good for us, wasting more than 
we eat. At railway stations and in restaurant cars, food is 
served far too liberally. It is usual for both rice and wheat 
to be served, even to people who do not normally eat rice 
at each meal. The practice of serving food in a large number 
of small receptacles is wasteful and should cease in the 
national interest. It is just as pleasant and far more economical 
for the customer to be told what is available, and for him to 
ask only for what he wants and knows he can eat. If cooked 
rice alone is wanted, there is no point in serving bread as 
well. In faet, it should be made an inviolable mie that no 
one will be served with more than one cooked cereal at any 
meal, and this should be enforced in all public feeding 
piaces, including hotels. The public should be subjected to 
a strenuous propaganda campaign in favour of economy, 
to which the politicians and the press should subscribe. 



CHAPTER THREE 

THE CONSERVATION OF SOIL 
WEALTH 

oil erosion is one of the manifest signs of soil 
mismanagement. The official estimate is that out of 
about 400 million acres of cultivable land in India, 
no less than 123 million acres are in the process either of 
soil erosion or of exhaustion caused by primitive methods 
of farming. Assuming that out of this area some 60 million 
acres are rapidly being put out of cultivation by erosion, 
the effect is that, with a potential grain producing capacity 
of a quarter of a ton per acre, 15 million tons of essential 
food are in the process of being lost altogether by erosion 
alone. Add to this another 15 million tons which could be 
raised on the remaining 63 million acres if saved from the 
effects of primitive methods of farming, and you have the 
astounding figure of 30 million tons of potential food being 
literally allowed to go to waste. This is roughly two thirds 
of the total yearly production of cereals in India. 

No country, far less India, can afford to allow such stagger- 
ing wastage as it must eventually lead to economic disaster, 
The pity of it is that there is a simple and straightforward 
remedy for soil erosion, but it is not being applied. This 
remedy is so convincing in results that the cultivator takes 
to it most readily. It is only a question of demonstration. 

Daulbandhi 

Consider the commonest type of soil erosion, namely the 
washing down of surface soil during rainy weather on fields 
which are not levelled or terraced. Taking India as a whole, 
it will be found that a very high percentage of the land 
which suffers erosion is land which slopes a few inches from 
one side of a field to another. There are seldom any terraces 
in the plains where the land slopes but slightly; neither is 
daulbandhi, i.e. the making of low earth barriers against the 
free flow of water on sloping fields, commonly practised. 
Daulbandhi, especially, is the simplest and most inexpensive 

14 



THE CONSERVATION OF SOIL WEALTH 

remedy for soil erosion and could be applied over the major 
part of the 60 million or so acres that are fast being lost by 
erosion. It consists of digging the eartli in a line along the 
lower end of the held and making a barrier or low earth 
wall 15 to 20 inches high and as much in width at the base, 
tapering to the top. The barrier is then beaten by hånd and 
sprinkled with water if necessary to consolidate it and 
prevent it being blown about by the hot winds preceding the 
rains. It is designed to hold up the water which brings down 
in suspension soil from the higher parts of the held, deposit- 
ing the silt within the held instead of into the nearest tank, 
ravine or river. The held thus gradually becomes even, by 
a natural but gradual process of silting up the lower end, 
and its fertility is kept within its boundaries. The barrier 
stems the rush of water and prevents hannful erosion. While 
it is true that fertility is washed slowly down from the higher 
to the lower level, what really matters is that it is kept 
within the same held, and the higher yield in the lower 
part of the held caused by accumulated fertility compen- 
sates for that on the slightly denuded higher level. As the 
process continues and the held levels np, the yield tends to 
be uniform over the entire surface of it. 

In 1942, the average cost of making these earth barriers 
was about three rupees an acre, and the system was, at that 
time, practised widely in the United Provinces. When the 
method was first introduced, a small cash prize of half the 
cost of making the datils or barriers was offered by the 
Directorate of Agriculture, but this was soon withdrawn 
as demonstrations alone were found to sufficiently attrået 
cultivators to the scheme. This simple but effective method of 
preventing sheet erosion of soil was not however advertised, 
as it should have been, throughout the length and breadth 
of India. The time has now come to make its adoption 
obligatory and for the panchayats to impose heavy fines on 
those who do not adopt it. It would take too long to carry 
out detailed surveys, but all members of agricultural exten- 
sion services throughout India and all volunteers of the 
proposed Land Army should be trained to observe the flow 
of Water on every held and to decide whether the introduc- 
tion of daulbandhi is necessary. The early rains is the best 
time for this. 

15 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

It will seldom be necessary to provide for any elaborate 
system of channels to take off surplus water ; for where the 
slope is only a few inches, the water held up will soak into 
the soil almost as soon as it rises against the artificial 
barriers or clauls. During heavy rain, the cultivator must be 
in his fields in person to repair breaches in the barriers as 
and when they occur. This worlc can be facilitated with the 
co-operation of village panchayats. 

Bench Terracing 

The use of drainage channels becomes necessary only 
where the slope is sharp as on hillsides, sub-montane areas, 
and alongside rivers. In the U.S.A. near Lubbock, Texas, 
may be seen examples of how rainwater running along a 
drain by the side of a public road is taken into a farm and 
utilized by the ingenious system of 'bench terracing'. In 
this method the water is taken to each held and is spread 
evenly over it, without being allowed to accmnulate in any 
one place. In one case, the bed of a former shallow lake 
previously formed by the unrestricted flow of rainwater, 
now remains dry for the best part of the year because the 
water is instead led over several terraces and is allowed to 
soak in. The method raises excellent crops since it leaves a 
large reserve of moisture in the soil, and it could be adopted 
with great advantage in hilly areas throughout India. The 
rainwater is conducted along drains zigzagging down a 
series of terraces from the highest to the lowest levels. So 
much water is absorbed in each held that by the time it 
reaches the lowest terrace the flow of water is often a mere 
trickle. In this way not only is erosion damage to terrace 
Walls, helds and drains prevented, but the moisture is 
absorbed deep into the subsoil of all the fields. All this is 
achieved at little or no cost, and surely the system should 
have been introduced systematically throughout the hilly 
and riverain slopes of India long ago. In the Nilgiris and 
parts of the Himalayas where unrestricted felling of trees 
has caused untold damage through erosion, terracing of a 
rough and ready sort is already practised, but not the kind 
of terracing whereby the scientific control of rainwater is 
achieved. If this type of terracing were practised, the danger 
from floods would be greatly minimized because the volume 

16 



ifHL*'" 






M 






1 




An aerial view of propcrly bmided ficlds. This is wliat daidbmidhi 

should look like. Much sheet erosion is saved and rainwater is 

conservod in dry tracts, 

This had, bawlh or barriel- to hold rainwater and stop erosion is Iarger than the 
ordinary dtml. It has helped to secure the good rabi crop scen in the foreground. 







z^sm 



Typical Ixmdi torracing in thi; hills. Channtils to can'y rainwater are 

absent and tho iiclds mu.stly slopc towarcls tho vallcy, The slopc should 

bo towards tlio hilLsidc. 



Bench terracing on ti gradually slopiiii; Himalayau hillside. Chamiols to carry 
surplus rainwater from ojie torraæ tt> anotlior an; not present as thcy shmild be. 



fflsf 






IH 



3*$3 






•ifijgMatMsiiS 



THE CONSERVATION OF SOIL WEALTH 

of water reaching the rivers immediately after heavy rain 
would be reduced by means of its being led gradually over 
the surface of cultivated fieids instead of rushing or cutting 
through them and down ravines. 

Control of the flow of surplus water is an urgent necessity 
in India where floods do so much damage every year. The 
large-scale planting of trees on otherwise barren hillsides 
is one of the present accepted methods of attacking the 
problem, but it is a very long-term plan and is not enough 
by itself to save the country from floods. Controlled drainage 
over bench terraces, combined with tree planting in open 
spaces and on the borders of cultivated fieids, is the obvious 
answer. The speed and efficiency with which such a plan is 
put into operation will make all the difference between a 
fiood-stricken and a floodless India. Gully plugging or the 
checking of the flow of flood water in ravines and gullies is 
all to the good, but is not the complete answer to the flood 
problem. Neither is afforestation. The damage done to 
India's watersheds by the ruthless felling of trees ha the 
past, is not repairable by afforestation alone, for floods 
will continue until the trees have established themselves, 
probably not for another seven to ten years. 

The need to save the country from erosion and floods is 
immediate, and must take priority next only to the direct 
stimulation of food production. The implementation of the 
bench terracing plan is therefore so urgent that the ad- 
ministration would do well to detail both paid and volunteer 
(Land Army) men and women to commence work with the 
least delay. Indian officials and others already in America 
under the Colombo Plan should be asked to visit Lubbock, 
Texas, and other piaces in the U.S.A. where bench terracing 
is to be seen, to acquaint themselves at first hånd with this 
very simple yet effective method of utilizing rainwater and 
preventing erosion or flood. 

Broad-based Terracing 

The faulty cultivation of marginal land has resulted in 
very large areas becoming useless for crops because of heavy 
erosion; this frequently occurs on the uplands bordering on 
rivers and streams. A very common practice is for plough- 
men to plough their fieids up and down the slope instead of 

-17 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

across it. This results in furrows which offer no resistance 
whatever to rainwater rushing down, and the consequent 
erosion is very rapid in its effect. The simple expedient of 
furrowing against the slope does not for some reason occur 
to the vast majority of cultivators. Contour ploughing, as 
it is sometimes called, should be demonstrated as widely as 
possible. 

Terracing on sloping land can either be of the bench type, 
as already described, or broad based, whereby resistance to 
the downward flow of soil-laden water is offered by banking 
up soil in strips 15 feet or more in width and about 2 feet 
high. The type of terracing to be adopted will largely depend 
on the slope of the land. For slopes of 50-100 feet per mile, 
the broad-based terrace is preferable. A special feature of 
this is the broad but shallow channel which alternates with 
the wide ridges. In regions of high rainfall these channels 
are given a slight gradient in order to get rid of the excess 
water, but in dry districts they are flat, allowing the absorp- 
tion of the water that collects in them. Both the channels 
and the ridges are wide enough to permit cultivation so that 
crops are grown on them without wastage of any fleld space. 
Broad-based terraces get silted up in time by soil moving 
from the upper to the lower level of each fleld. The ultimate 
effect is to convert the area into gently sloping terraces of 
fairly flat fields in which erosion has been eliminated. 

Erosion always begins at the highest level of a slope. 
Such remedial measures as gully plugging, bench terracing 
and broad-based terracing should therefore begin at the 
top, working downwards until the entire slope has been 
treated in the desired manner. 

Strip Cropping 

Another expedient for land which slopes rather more than 
the limit up to which daulbandhi or the raising of low earth 
barriers is effective, is known as strip cropping. In the flrst 
place, the ploughing must be done against, across or in 
opposition to the slope or contour. In the second, crops are 
grown in strips on these slopes, at least one of the strips 
being put under a thick spreading crop like gram, cowpea 
or groundnut. In Western countries clover makes an ideal 
strip cover crop. The object is to hold the soil and to 

18 



THE CONSERVATION OF SOIL WEALTH 

prevent it being washed down from the strip of some other 
crop higher up. There may be four, five or six strips depend- 
ing on the area and slope of the field. This method of 
fighting erosion has the added advantage of protecting the 
inside strips from the depredations of wild animals, where 
crops like groundnut are grown. 

Wind Erosion 

The encroachment of desert sand, blown by the wind 
onto cultivated land to the leeward, requires very special 
measures. The raising of shelter belts of certain quick- 
growing trees is a measure adopted by the State of Uttar 
Pradesh in the Agra and Mathura districts where the desert 
is encroaching on fertile land at an alarming rate. Proper 
land use, however, is more likely to be the answer to this 
serious problem of wind erosion than the planting of shelter 
belts. Such grasses as the deep-rooted kans (normally a 
pernicious weed), that will hold the soil and resist erosion, 
are likely to prove of inestimable value, not only in holding 
up the march of the desert, but in reclaiming sandy deserts 
for ultimate afforestation. The same applies to baisurai, a 
deep-rooted and troublesome weed which flourishes during 
the winter season in Western Uttar Pradesh but resists 
drought during the season of hot winds (from April to June). 
This and another weed called bui (Kochia Inåica) may well 
prove to be an invaluable means of preventing desert 
encroachment and curing established desert and semi-desert 
conditions. The wild and thorny shrub called jharberi is 
another possible ally of those who seek a cure for these 
conditions. One very great advantage of using weeds like 
kans and baisurai is that goats and other animals do not 
touch them for food. The main object of holding the soil 
against wind erosion, once gained, creates a condition under 
which further reclamation by afforestation becomes a definite 
possibility. 

CONTROLLED GRAZING 

One aspect of proper land use which is of the utmost 
national importance is controlled grazing. Grasses are as 
important in the prevention of erosion on sloping land as 
any other vegetative cover; in faet more so. Grasses form 

19 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

a thick matting which can effectively check erosion. Not 
only the planting of dub (Cynodon Dactylon) and other 
good grazing grasses, but also their preservation through 
controlled grazing is therefore most important. In a country 
where the number of cattle to be grazed far exceeds that 
which its existing grazing areas can support, it is easier to 
recommend controlled grazing than to enforce it. The 
solution of the problem will occur to the reader in the 
chapter on land reclamation. There are vast areas all over 
the country which are crying out for reclamation by one or 
other of the simple and inexpensive methods recommended 
therein. If to the reclaimed flat lands, suitable for controlled 
grazing, are added the millions of acres of riverain land 
which are capable of providing grazing with or without 
afforestation, there should be enough grazing to enable the 
introduction of controlled grazing as a measure of the highest 
importance to the nation's rural economy. If a reduction in 
the growing population of useless or surplus cattle is effected 
as is suggested in chapter four, there is no reason why the 
ultimate incidence of cattle per acre of good grazing land in 
India should not be reduced to the scientific optimum, 
provided that land reclamation is seriously undertaken 
(chapter six). 

Primitive methods of farming will take time to change. 
The effect of many years of demonstration by agricultural 
field workers must however eventually bear fruit. Improved 
implements of tillage are at present in short supply, and 
their manufacture must be speeded up. Servicing facilities, 
spare parts and the implements themselves must be made 
available to the farmer, at prices which he can afford. 
Supplies of fertilizer, town compost, bone- and fish-meal 
and the like should be available more easily and at a lower 
cost than at present. The conservation of all organic matter, 
animal and vegetable, must be insisted on; legal, co-opera- 
tive and individual organization not only for the prevention 
of further fragmentation, but rather for the consolidation of 
holdings, must be set in motion by the State ; cheap agricul- 
tural credit must be made available through co-operative 
societies ; the control of weeds, diseases and pests must be 
exercised seriously. If all this is done, there need be no 
further loss of agricultural production due to primitive 

20 



THE CONSERVATION OF SOIL WEALTH 

farming methods. But the State cannot do it all alone: 
voluntary help from retired officials, university students 
and the public generally will be badly needed. 

Another glaring example of the present waste of soil 
wealth is the loss to India's cultivable area of millions of 
tons each year of human and cattle excreta, weeds, crop 
residues, wood ashes, street sweepings, tank and pond silt, ,, 
and the carcases, including bones of dead animals. 

Bulk Manure 

Many years ago at the Wardha Ashram in Madhya 
Pradesh (old Central Provinces), a simple method of saving 
human excreta for our soils was demonstrated. More 
recently a movable latrine on wooden wheels has been used 
to good effect. This consists of a wooden frame on fom 
wheels to which cheap gunny screens have been nailed. 
Inside is a seat. The latrine is used over a previously dug 
trench about 10 indies in depth. After use, some of the 
earth on the sides is pushed into the trench. The excreta 
is thus preserved and utilized by means of this simple and 
cheap contraption as plant food. In order to persuade 
villagers to use these movable latrines, the State, on the 
recommendation of the panchayats, will have to offer 
rewards at first to those using them most consistently. If this 
fails, a system of fines could be imposed on those who 
do not use the trench as directed. The 82 per cent of the 
country's population which lives in villages must be made 
to conserve this important ingredient of soil wealth for the 
fieids adjoining the villages. Later, and by gradual stages, 
the use of night soil and other forms of organic matter as 
manure can be included in the curriculum of rural schools 
throughout the country. Only when everyone realizes the 
full value of organic matter and especially of human excreta 
as plant food, will it be possible for the country to produce 
crop yields comparable with those of other countries. 

Between 1948 and 1950 a number of Acts were passed 
iu some Indian States making the preparation of compost 
from sewage and rubbish by municipalities compulsory. 
The Bihar Municipal Bill, 1949, makes it obligatory for all 
municipalities to prepare compost manure from sewage and 
rubbish, if so required by the State government. The C.P, 

21 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

& Berar Municipalities (Third Amendment) Aet, 1948, 
amends Section 50 of tlie 1922 Aet to provide for the pre- 
paration of compost manure from night soil and rubbish. 
The Madras District Municipalities (Orissa Amendment) 
Bill of 1949, and the Bihar & Orissa Municipal (Orissa 
Amendment) Aet of 1949, make similar provisions for the 
State of Orissa. The Bihar Aet goes further and makes 
compulsory the removal of sewage, rubbish and offensive 
matter from all public piaces within the notified area and 
its collection for the preparation of compost manure. The 
East Punjab Conservation of Manure Aet, 1949, is perhaps 
the most far-sighted enactment of its kind. Its main provi- 
sions empower the State government (a) to declare any 
area within the limits of any one tahsil to be a notified area 
for the purpose of conservation of manure, and (b) to make 
the occupier or head of a family in the notified area liable 
to conserve manure. The Punjab Municipal (East Punjab 
Third Amendment) Aet of 1949 provides for the compulsory 
preparation of compost manure from cow-dung by any 
municipal committee, if so desired by the State Govern- 
ment. This enactment does not go far enough in that no 
mention is made of sewage, and will doubtless be amended 
in due course. The Hyderabad State Refuse Ordinance 
makes it compulsory for municipalities to convert town 
remse into manure. The Madhya Bharat Village Refuse 
Ordinance of 1950 provides for the conversion of village 
refuse into manure. Finally, the same State enacted a 
Municipal Refuse (Conversion into Manure) Aet in 1950, 
providing for the conversion of refuse into manure within 
the limits of any municipality. 

All these legislative enactments are more or less useless 
unless each state takes the initiative in getting municipali- 
ties not only to manufacture the compost but also to arrange 
for its distribution. Municipalities are as a rule poor, and 
adequate funds will be needed to produce the desired results. 
In this, again, each state will have to devise ways of raising 
funds and to see that they are used wisely. The larger towns 
in Bombay, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and 
other states have enormous potential agricultural wealth 
in sewage which is at present wasted. Legislation to conserve 
and distribute this wealth is needed most urgently. 

22 



THE CONSE&VATION OF SOIL WEALTH 

A method of treating sewage to produce an odourless 
sludge which is most useful as a fertilizer on the one hånd, 
and a clean, clear liquid containing quantities of plant food 
on the other, has been adopted with success in the West. 
In India, the larger towns could provide the surrounding 
farmlands with the millions of tons of valuable plant food 
which are at present led into rivers or the sea and so com- 
pletely wasted. The cost of utilizing town sewage by this 
method has been used as an argument against its general 
adoption in India. Perhaps a concrete example will help to 
show that it is not really expensive. In Lubbock, Texas — 
where bench terracing is practiced — 3 million gallons per 
day of sewage was being treated in 1946 in an activation 
plant outside the town. As the sewage comes into the plant, 
it is deodorized with ferrous chloride, for which the normal 
and ample supply of water with which town sewage is flushed 
can be substituted more cheaply. In the case of the Lubbock 
Scheme, the entire plant cost the City government 234,000 
dollars and employs only six men, the electricity used being 
about 1,200 kilowatts per day. The gases which emerge in 
the process of aerating the sewage can be used to generate 
electricity, thus reducing the working costs. The clear liquid 
from the aerating tanks is sold to a farmer who uses it to 
irrigate a 700-acre farm to which it is pumped. The land on 
this farm which was poor before, has by using this effluent 
been greatly enriched, and yields the farmer a net profit of 
20,000 dollars a year. He pays only 1,800 dollars a year for the 
use of the effluent from this plant. The dry solid precipitate 
which collects at the plant is eagerly bought by other 
farmers, some of whose farms are quite a distance from the 
dump. 

The Indian Planning Commission anticipates that an 
expenditure of 112 crores of rupees will in five years yield 
5-57 million tons of additional food. Nowhere in this plan 
is there any mention of utilizing town sewage in the manner 
described and yet, from this illustration, it is not difficult 
to see how greatly crop yields would benefit by such a 
scheme. Indeed it may yet be discovered that money spent 
on utilizing human excreta for agriculture pays much higher 
dividends in additional food produced than equivalent 
amounts spent on the 'Grow More Food' schemes under 

23 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

the Five Year Plan. Now that high-grade foreign experts 
are available for advice under various international schemes, 
it should not be difficult to have this scheme examined in 
all its aspects. It might then be found that money diverted 
from the one scheme to the other would serve the country 
better in its urgent need of more food. 

China and Japan have long since realized how very valu- 
able sewage is. The method of activation adopted in those 
countries is simple and inexpensive; it consists of stirring 
the stuff in large open vessels. The action of air thus forced 
into the thick fluid causes it to lose its smell, and when it 
ripens it is ready for application in the helds. In India it 
would be costly to employ the caste of people who handle 
sewage and there would not be enough of them to activate 
even ten per cent of what at present goes to waste. Hence, 
therefore, eitlier all Indians must overcome their prejudice 
against this type of work, or money must be found for 
activation piants to serve all cities, together with piping 
and transport facilities for the distribution of the fmished 
product over the nearby grain-producing fieids. 

Not only has India a very large human population, but 
it has also the largest cattle population in the world. And 
what is happening to the nitrogen, phosphates, potash and 
minerals that pass out of the bodies of these 177 1- million 
cattle? Most of the urine is lost from carelessness allowed 
through ignorance of its true value as potential plant food, 
and a large part of the solid excreta disappears as fuel. Even 
the ash residue from dung cakes is mostly lost by careless 
handling. Agricultural research in India has resulted in 
many useful practices including those whereby cattle urine 
can be preserved as manure, and one by which dung can 
be turned into valuable compost with the help of weeds and 
crop waste. The trouble is however that these useful practices 
are confmed mostly to government farms and similar 
institutions. The preservation of cattle urine should be the 
national duty of every cattle owner and should be enforced, 
if necessary by means of legislation. 

While cattle are grazing, it is impossible to collect their 
droppings on a large scale, but where they are tethered for 
the night, it is not only possible but costs very little in cash 
and in labour. Loose earth or a bedding of leaves or crop 

24 



TEE CONSERVATION OF SOIL WEALTH 

waste should be spread under the cattle. The solids are then 
removed, some for burning as dung cake and some to the 
manure pit, and the urine, absorbed by the loose earth or 
crop waste, in time becomes the most valuable ingredient 
of the manure pit. It is not necessary to replace the loose 
earth or other absorbent material more often than once in 
two weeks or so. 

If this procedure was regularly practiced, the supplies of 
organic manure to the country could easily be increased 
by fifty to sixty per cent or more; and the effect on crop 
production of so great an increase in manurial application 
can be calculated from experimental results available of the 
differences between yields from plots treated and those not 
treated with urine earth. This varies ; but for a crop like 
wheat it can be as high as fifty per cent. 

COMPOST 

Another aspect of this question of saving organic matter 
for helds producing food, is the proper utilization of (a) 
weeds, (b) street sweepings including crop waste, (c) tank 
silt and (d) ashes, all of wliich are valuable sources of 
fertility. Ashes are not strictly organic matter but they play 
so important a part in the process of making compost that 
they are included in this list. It has been estimated that 
from one half to two thirds of the total available supply 
of cattle dung is burnt in the shape of dung cakes by the 
village housewife. This is due less to inadequate supplies 
of firewood than to the faet that cow-dung makes an excel- 
lent slow fire for boiling mille and for cooking food generally. 
It would therefore be wrong to deprive people of this fuel 
without providing a suitable substitute and, until such a 
substitute has been found, dung must continue to be used. 
Fortunately, it has been found that about a quarter of the 
solid excreta of cattle available would be enough to meet 
immediate requirements. This does not imply that it would 
not be desirable to return to the earth as manure the entire 
excretions of both cattle and human beings ; but even if a 
quarter of the solid element were carefully preserved, and 
with it green weeds and all such easily decomposable crop 
waste as stubble, straw of oilseed crops, leaves and the like, 
a mixture of these ingredients with ashes from village 

25 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

hearths and urine earth would make a compost as rich in 
value as cattle dung itself. 

The value of compost is now known to all agricultural 
departments of the various state governments and it is now 
only a question of demonstrating the making of compost to 
the villages. The first essential is to make the collection of 
all weeds in the green stage before seed formation, all ashes, 
all crop residue readily subject to decomposition in the 
manure pit, compulsory for all agricultural workers, and, 
if necessary, fines should be imposed through village pancha- 
yats for failure to conserve these valuable ingredients of 
compost. 

Other Fertilizers 

There remains the consideration of how best to utilize 
village tank silt and the bones, flesh and blood of dead 
animals. One of the characteristic features of Indian villages 
is the presence of a water tank which hils during the rains 
and serves various purposes. If it is large enough— which is 
seldom the case — it is used for irrigation, but generally it 
is used to water cattle or to wash clothes in. Being in a 
depression, the tank collects surface dirt from higher ground, 
and the result is that it silts up and has to be cleaned from 
time to time. Occasionally the value of tank silt as manure 
is appreciated by the village folk, but not often enough, and 
one of the first things a Land Army should engage itself 
in is the deepening of village tanks and the removal of the 
silt to the fieids adjoining. If this was done once a year in 
April or May, the tanks would supply a considerable amount 
of manurial matter and the remaining water would be cleaner 
for the purposes for which it is at present used. 

Turning to bones and carcases, there is at present a 
colossal wastage of phosphates and nitrogen because of the 
practice of leaving dead animals to be devoured by vultures. 
Here again is work for a Land Army which could train 
villagers in burying carcases so that the pits could be opened 
in due course and their contents used as manure. The loca- 
tion of the pits and the allocation of the manurial content 
should be a matter for village panchayats to decide. There 
are of course many carcases on the larger grazing areas 
which cannot be pitted because of their distance from the 

26 



THE CONSERVATJON OF SOIL WEALTH 

village or cultivated land. In these cases, there should be 
an organized collection of bones for subsequent sale to mills 
where bonemeal and other by-products can be made. 
Finally tbere are tbe slaughter houses where, since the 
slaughter of cows and their progeny has practically ceased, 
buffaloes, goats and sheep only are slaughtered. Much valu- 
able blood and offal is wasted at these piaces and it is high 
time that these were converted into dried blood and other 
material of value as fertilizers. 

The Sindri fertilizer factory in Bihar is the largest of its 
kind in Asia. It will eventually provide India with about 
a third of the country's requirement of sulphate of ammonia. 
This fertilizer does more harm than good to fieids other than 
those which have a satisfactory humus content or, in other 
words, contain the organic matter that is at present being 
wasted. Organic matter helps among other things to make 
dry soil retentive of moisture. It also helps to bind particles 
of loose soil together and, in the case of clay, assists floccula- 
tion, which in itself is an aid to the soil. The use of fertilizers 
without the addition of bulky manures like compost can be 
harmful in the case of clayey soils and wasteful in the case 
of such light soils as sandy loams. In a country like India 
where there is little moisture during seven or eight months 
of the year, the saving of all organic waste matter is as 
important to food production as is the saving of electrical 
energy in a modem industrial town where the demand 
exceeds the supply. 

Ashes from brick kilns have been found by experience to 
make valuable manure for fruit orchards. Similarly, the 
reddish earth near the foundation of very old buildings is 
an excellent fertilizer for certain crops like tobacco, and 
saltpetre, which often occurs naturally as an incrustation, 
has a fertilizer value. The country cannot afford to waste 
any of these materials, for on its increased agricultural pro- 
duction will depend much of its future economic strength. 
India could be exporting enough agricultural raw products 
to buy all the imported goods it needs ; but much depends 
on how the many problems discussed in this chapter are 
håndled. 



27 




CHAPTER FOUR 

SURPLUS CATTLE AND OTHER 
CROP PESTS 

Ihe cow is venerated in India for a very good reason. 
'Gao mata' or 'mother cow' as she is called, pro vides 
■ or should provide the poorest of people, the sick, the 
infirm, and our growing children with one of the essentials 
of life, mille. Over 80 per cent of India's peoples depend on 
the male progeny of the cow for bullock-power, so essential 
for the nation's existence. As far away as Florida in the 
U.S.A., Indian cattle are kept for breeding purposes and, 
in this age of artificial insemination, the seed of some breeds 
of Indian bull is in demand in other distant lands also. Not 
only in beauty of form, but in their economical feeding 
habits and their resistance to disease, our best herds are 
unsurpassed. No breed of milch cattle in the whole world, 
with the exception of the Jerseys and Guernseys of the 
Channel Islands, can compare with our cows in the high 
percentage of butterfat in the milk they produce. The milch 
buffalo produces nearly a pound of butterfat with every ten 
pounds of milk that is drawn from it. 

A Century ago, when the cattle population of India was 
much smaller than it is today, and cattle were properly 
fed because grazing grasses were not in short supply, and 
concentrates like gram were cheap, the problem of over- 
population did not arise. Today the situation has completely 
changed. Well managed and properly fed, pure or nearly pure 
bred herds, are the exception rather than the rule. Large 
herds of ematiated and completely useless cattle stray about 
trying to eke out an existence on wholly inadequate grazing. 
Cattle that have become wild and roam in some of our 
jungles are better off than these unfortunate half -starved 
and ill-shaped remnants of our once flourishing herds. Some 
of our goats produce more milk than these poor cattle. 

All this has happened over a period of a hundred or a 
hundred and fifty years. Why? The gradual rise in the 

28 



SURPLUS CATTLE AND OTHER CROP PESTS 

human population during the period of comparative peace 
from the early nineteenth century onwards, resulted in a 
demand for cultivated land at the expense of grazing areas. 
Cow slaughter unfortunately became indiscriminate, with 
the result that many really good cows found their way to 
the slaughter house during the period between lactations. 
This was particularly noticeable in the neighbourhood of 
large towns where the maintenance of dry cows for three or 
four months was a costly business, and where the owner 
consequently followed the line of least resistance. The good 
cow was sold for a fair price to the butcher and, with the 
proceeds of the sale, another good cow in milk was bought 
in some outlying village. This new purchase was fed and kept 
in good condition so long as it was in milk, but as soon as 
it went dry, it was disposed of , and the process was repeated 
again and again. During the two world wars, when there was 
a large demand for beef for the armies in India, high prices 
were paid for well fed cows and their progeny, and this had 
the inevitable result that good milkers became scarce. 

The stoppage in recent years of this wasteful practice, 
harmful in the extreme to India's rural economy, has been 
a boon to the country, and those who agitated for reform 
are to be congratulated on their achievement. But we are 
still left with the problem of a surplus population of scores 
of millions of useless cattle which are a drain on the country's 
available fodder and grain supplies. It is no easy matter to 
deal with this problem. One can only discuss possible solu- 
tions and hope ultimately to find the right one. The situation 
has become so serious that it is impossible in some parts 
of the country to protect growing crops from grazing by 
wandering cattle. Years ago it was one or two stray animals 
which could either be driven off or sent to the nearest cattle 
pound. Today it is a question of constantly being harassed 
day and night by herds which must either feed on one's 
green crops, or starve: How long can this state of affairs 
be allowed to continue ? Fencing is too costly for the average 
farmer and so are watchmen. 

Segregation and Sterilization 

One solution, that should be workable, lies in the segre- 
gation of these cattle, local expert committees having 

29 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

decided which of them are really useless. This means that a 
small compensation must be paid to the owners of these 
animals, and it should therefore be a gradual process, spread 
over a number of years. Meanwhile areas have to be selected 
and fenced if necessary, so that the herds are confined to 
them, Our sub-montane lands abound in rich lush grasses 
and a beginning could be made in selected parts of these vast 
areas. The proper utilization of the carcases of animals that 
die in these reserves should provide an incentive for indus- 
trial or commercial enterprise, the bones providing fertilizer, 
the hides tans, and the rest compost. Incidentally, commer- 
cialization of the carcases would help to pay the cost of 
compensation, if not of fencing. 

Another solution worth considering is the use of modern 
veterinary science for the purpose of sterilizing useless cattle, 
male and female, so that no more decrepit and utterly 
useless cattle are born, This to some may appear a somewhat 
drastic step, but it should be remembered that artificial 
insemination makes it possibLe to manage with a very few 
good stud bulls where hundreds were needed before. Assisting 
in the work of sterilization is where an intelligent and well- 
trained group of students forming part of India's future 
Land Army could be of real service to the country. It will 
be difhcult at first to convince the cattle-owner that this 
solution is not only in the national interest but in his own. 
It must however be realized that we can make no progress 
if we are not prepared to do all in our power to overcome 
ignorance and unnecessary prej udices in our rural areas. 
To begin with, the sterilization of only the very worst cows 
and heifers, and the castration only of the very worst bulls, 
should be undertaken ; for it is possible to build up a herd 
and improve the quality of its cattle, by using the seed of a 
really good pedigree bull. 'The bull is half the herd' is an 
old saying and is pertinent to the present discussion, as there 
are far too many sub-standard bulls roaming the country and 
reducing the already poor quality of many herds. Steriliza- 
tion by castration is already commonly practised ; it needs 
only to be modernized and intensified in a country-wide 
campaign for better male and female cattle and buffaloes. 

The reverence in which the cow is held has resulted in a 
large number of gaoshalas or asylums for aged, infirm and 

30 



SURPLUS CATTLE AND OTHER CROP PESTS 

decrepit cattle, springing up over the length and breadth 
of the cotmtiy. These institutions are supported by well- 
wishers of the cow and some of them are well managed. 
The time has come, however, for them to be utilized as 
cattle-breeding centres and as centres for training in arti- 
ficial insemination, modem sterilization and cattle manage- 
ment generally. The existing herds in these institutions 
should form the nuclei of the new segregation centres for 
useless cattle in sub-montane grasslands, Such a step has 
already been taken in at least one state of the Union and 
deserves the praise and support of the public. In deciding 
which of the useless cattle should constitute the first and 
subsequent consignments sent into segregated retirement 
from any pargana or tahsil, the committee of experts 
dealing with the matter should co-opt the help of 
prominent and public-spirited men from the area. Similarly, 
in the management of the herds already segregated in the 
manner suggested, it would be well for the official experts 
to associate with non-officials who have had experience of 
cattle management, and of whom there is no shortage. 

MONKEYS 

Next to surplus cattle, perhaps the greatest pest of food 
crops is the monkey. Replying to a question in the Council 
of States in New Delhi, the Minister for Agriculture said 
that, during 1952, 15,753 monkeys were exported from 
India. In the year previous to that 47,185 were sent. The 
United States, which has a large number of research insti- 
tutes, is our chief customer. The monkeys are used mainly 
for research in diseases, and the utmost care is taken to see 
that they are treated as humanely as possible. Replying to 
another question, the Minister said that monkeys were 
responsible for damage to 5 to 7 per cent of our food crops 
and that they were exported mainly to get rid of them. Five 
per cent damage to our food crops represents a loss of about 
2£ million tons of food for human consumption every year. 
It would therefore be worthwhile trying to export larger 
numbers of these animals even if they have to be given 
away free to any foreign country that cares to pay the 
transport costs. It is doubtful, however, if the export of 
even 50,000 monkeys each year would make any appreciable 

31 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

difference to their numbers, already huge and multiplying 
fairly rapidly. 

Monkeys could go on living quite happily in our forests 
once they ceased to menace our field crops, and the question 
should be carefully examined by a team of experts. It may 
be possible to confine the entire monkey population of 
India within the limits of certain selected forests by means of 
electrified fencing. The voltage need not be strong enough to 
injure the animals, but sufficiently strong to give a shock 
which would effectively keep them away from the fence 
and within the forest. The answer to the problem of driving 
the monkeys into the forest in the first place can be found 
either in the methods already adopted to capture and 
export thousands of them or by an ingenious method once 
tried in a tahsil of the Jubbulpore district of Madhya 
Pradesh. It was early in the century that the depredations 
of the large long-tailed grey monkey, called the langoor, 
became a real menace to the countryside. The District Officer 
asked the tahsildar, a resourceful officer, to get rid of the 
menace, and this he did. Being a sportsman, he had a 
number of panther skins. He captured one of the monkeys 
and got a cobbler to dress it up in the panther skin and then 
let it loose. Its natural instinct sent it bounding after the 
herd from which it was taken. But it looked so much like a 
live panther that the more it tried to get in among its friends, 
the f urther away did they flee from it. The chase appears to 
have ended somewhere in the Himalayas, for the herd was 
never seen again. That is a true story and it may well provide 
the answer to a vexed problem in which religious and humane 
feelings preclude the large-scale destruction of this pest. How 
far sterilization of a proportion of both sexes is either desir- 
able or feasible, is for experts and administrators to decide. 

NlLGAE OR BLUE COW 

Next in importance among animal pests is possibly the 
nilgae, a name which means blue cow, although the animal 
has little or no resemblance to a cow. It is a deer, and along 
with other deer causes very considerable losses each year 
to growing food crops. Because of its name and for no other 
reason, there exists a curious prejudice in some parts of 
India against its destruction. Recently, however, this 

32 



^wfrvfwr^ 



'f!.'.. 



3k 






Bunding and afforestation to check erosion in the Ganga ravines near 

Kanpur. What was once bare eroded hud is now a valaable lorest tnostiy 

01 sheesham. Water is oftcn held up in depressions as a result of sucli 

treatment. 



Fighting malaria to make rich sub-moutane land inhabitable. 






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i.H&£9 






Mil f'Wra 






SM 



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I - i 









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Agte 



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A prize-wumer. The Sahiwal cow is unsui'passocl in India as a heavy 
milker. Its home is in Central l-'unjab wliere milcli cattle are unusually 

well fed. 

A prize bull oE thc Murrah breed ol buffalo which has its home in South-east 
Punjab. The fornalo buffalo is India's richcat source of butter-fat. 






i-MtÆm 






mm 



SURPLUS CATTLE AND OTHER CROP PESTS 

prejudice appears to be disappearing and in any case seems 
to be in inverse ratio to the amount of damage done by the 
pest in any particular area. The full grown animal looks 
more like a horse than a cow and weighs about 800 pounds. 
It consumes a great deal of food and many a farmer com- 
plains bitterly of its depredations. In the State of Uttar 
Pradesh, the name of this animal has been changed to 
nilghora, meaning blue horse, the idea being to get people 
to recognize it for its destructive propensities, and to obviate 
the sentiment adhering to the name blue cow. 

Although the Uttar Pradesh Government appreciates the 
extensive damage done by this pest, beyond changing its 
official name no organized effort to reduce its numbers has 
so far been made. Ammunition is expensive and, with the 
abolition of the feudal system, the number of shikaris has 
diminished. The result is that the number of nilgae that 
roam about feeding on growing crops is on the increase. 
The same does not apply equally to other animals of the 
deer family for the simple reason that black buck, cheetal, 
samhhar, gond and smaller deer are more sought after by 
sportsmen. With the exception of the black buck and the 
nilgae, most of these deer live in the larger forests and 
damage crops only in the near vicinity of afforested areas. 
Reduction in the number of black buck can best be brought 
about by encouraging sportsmen with rewards. Nilgae, on 
the other hånd, being much larger and tougher customers, 
are not easily killed other than by the most enterprising 
sportsman armed with suitable ammunition. If, however, 
the wild elephant can be captured and trained as a beast 
of burden, why not the nilgae? The method of driving these 
animals into kraals or stout palisades ought to be successful, 
and in this way there need be no killing of these beautiml 
beasts and they might be trained for the many useful 
purposes for which bullocks, ponies, mules and donkeys 
are used. It is an experiment worth trying and the sooner 
it is undertaken the better. Once trained, their numbers 
can be kept down by the prevention of unrestricted breeding. 

WlLD BOAR 

The wild boar too is extremely destructive to farm crops 
and its numbers also are on the increase. This pest presents 

33 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

a somewhat different problem, in the matter of destruction, 
to that of surplus deer. The pig does not often stand and 
present a stationary target to the marksman: he usually 
has to be driven out of thick brush or long grass and he then 
presents a rapidly moving target. Shooting him with a rifle 
is to endanger the beaters. Shot guns could of course be 
used, but the results obtained are not likely to be commen- 
surate with the trouble and expense involved in a substantial 
reduction. The most effective way of destroying wild pig 
is probably to drive them into deep trenches prepared before- 
hand. These trenches have to be deep enough and steep 
enough to prevent the animals climbing out again once 
they have fallen in. Also, it has to be covered Hghtly so as 
not to be recognized as a trap. In dimensions, a depth of 
6 to 7 feet, a width of 4 feet at ground level and 5 feet at the 
bottom should suffice. Once secured in the trench the 
animals could be speared and their hide used by certain 
castes of villager. The bones and offal would make valuable 
fertilizer and the bristle is always prized by the brushware 
industry. 

PORCUPINE 

Porcupines destroy crops only at night, and their destruc- 
tion can best be effected by employing professional hunters, 
offering them suitable rewards. The flesh of the porcupine 
is prized by certain castes, and the rest of the carcase would 
be useful for the manure pit. It is also possible that some 
use could be found for the quills of the porcupine in cottage 
industries. 

WlLD ELEPHANT 

Wild elephants cause considerable damage to paddy and 
sugarcane in the neighbourhood of their jungle haunts, 
and to their number are now added the surplus elephants 
no longer required by feudatory chiefs and the abolished 
zamindaris. As far north as the district of Naini Tal in 
Uttar Pradesh, wild elephants have in recent years consumed 
hundred of tons of rice and sugarcane, and the ravages of 
this largest of all animal pests are well known in Assam, 
Mysore and other parts of India. The number of Indian 
elephants that can be sent as gifts to friendly countries is 

34 



SURPLUS CATTLE AND OTHER CROP PESTS 

limited ; so also is the number that can be absorbed by zoos 
and circuses. It therefore becomes necessary to find some 
other way of reducing their number. To destroy wild 
elephants is not as easy as would appear at first sight : they 
are just as anxious to keep away from human beings as 
are any other wild animals, and at times they can be even 
more vicious and dangerous. There are, according to books 
on hunting, three vital spots for a good marksman armed 
with a heavy sporting rifle to aim at ; the temple, the point 
of junction of trunk and head, and the heart. The first two 
are comparatively small targets, particularly as it is not 
usually safe to get any nearer than one hundred yards to a 
wild elephant, as the writer can testify from bitter experi- 
ence. The heart shot is not as safe as the other two because 
it may not kill instantaneously ; and within a few seconds 
a lot can happen to the marksman. Af ter the ivory of a 
dead tusker has been removed the bones and the rest of the 
carcase are valuable material for fertilizer. 

BlRDS 

Crows, parrots and sparrows are very destructive to food 
crops, especially to maize, millet, wheat and rice. But 
before any large-scale destruction of these pests is under- 
talcen it would be desirable to obtain the advice of an expert 
committee, as a number of birds that cause damage to 
crops also help to keep, down harmful insects. So far as 
methods of destruction are concerned, the easiest way 
is to smash the eggs in the nests; but, please, only 
after carefully studying the habits of each pest. 

An extraordinary case of extensive damage to crops was 
reported recently from Assam. On 31 December 1952, the 
following paragraph was published in a well known Indian 
newspaper: 'Song Birds Destroy Assam Crops. Indian 
nightingales are reported to be causiug enormous depre- 
dations in several villages of the North Salmara police 
circle of Goalpura district. It is stated that these birds, 
famous for their melodious notes and thought to be innocent 
and harmless, swoop in their thousands on potato and paddy 
fields and eat and destroy them in large quantities. The 
harassed villagers have sought government help. They told 
the Food and Rural Development Minister, during his recent 

35 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

walking tour of the district, that unless some action was 
taken against these menacing birds, they might be com- 
pelled to leave for safer zones.' 

Well might the farmers of other states of the Indian 
Union make similar representations against the depre- 
dations of parrots and other bird pests. The villagers' only 
weapon against these pests is the laborious process of keep- 
ing watch and making noises; but experience has shown 
that in spite of these methods extensive damage is done 
each year to our food crops. 

For the destruction of any pest other than wild animals, 
once the expert has devised the most effective means of 
destroying it, the co-operation not only of the villagers, but 
of volunteers from India's futtire Land Army will be neces- 
sary. Training, equipment and leadership will be needed. 
Organized destruction under the control of an entomologist 
will go a long way towards preventing wastage of food- 
grains running into millions, if not tens of millions, of tons 
each year. For if the damage done annually by birds, rats, 
white and black ants, and other insects was calculated, the 
result would be truly astonishing. At a time when the 
country should be straining every nerve to adequately feed 
its growing population, this is a matter of the greatest 
importance to its rural economy. While the Five-Year Plan 
is in operation there is no reason why some of the country's 
resources, especially its manpower, should not be employed 
in fighting the pests that are depriving millions of its inhabi- 
tants of their daily bread. It brooks no delay. 




CHAPTER FIVE 

THE CONSOLIDATION OF 
HOLDINGS 

conomists calculate that the income from farming 
compact holdings is 20 per cent higher than that 
from equivalent scattered or fragmented ones. (In 
Switzerland, as a result of consolidation, gross returns per 
acre have increased from 16 to 20 per cent.) Expenditure 
on cultivation or tillage increases by 5 ■ 3 per cent for every 
500 metres of distance that men and bullocks have to 
travel; by 20 to 35 per cent on transport of manure, and 
15 to 25 per cent on transport of crops. 

It is not possible to make any accurate calculation of the 
additional production of foodgrains which an increased 
income, due to consolidation, represents. But take a family 
of 4 persons whose holding has been Consolidated : Let us 
assume that before consolidation the holding was divided 
into 4 fragments, each ■ 8 of an acre in area and separated 
each from the other by an average distance of 150 yards. 
These assumptions will be found to be reasonably within 
the average conditions prevailing in a state like Uttar Pra- 
desh. Now suppose that the family of 4 had, before consolida- 
tion, a net income of Rs 20 per month exclusive of the value 
of the grain they produced and ate. This means that the 
total value of produce sold by the family, apart from what 
they ate or otherwise consumed from the produce of their 
helds, was excluding production expenses roughly worth 
Rs 240 per annum. Assuming that half of this (a fair as- 
sumption in non-irrigated areas) represents receipts from 
foodgrains (Rs 120), at an average price of Rs 15 per 
maund, this would represent 8 maunds of surplus grain 
sold. With the same fieids consolidated, and assuming an 
increase of net income by 25 per cent, there is now 10 
maunds of foodgrains available for sale each year. Translat- 
ing this increase to overall figures; if all the 224 million 
acres under food crops in India today were consolidated, the 
additional production would be as much as 5 million tons. 

37 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

One of the reasons why Indian growcrs are not producing 
satisfactory yields of food crops is that much of their 
limited bullock- and man-power is wasted in moving up 
and down between the scattered strips of land which make 
up their holdings. They have little time left to conserve 
manure and carry it to their fieids ; to dig wells and water 
their crops ; to put up barriers to save their soil from ero- 
sion, or even to cultivate their helds properly and in time. 
Experience in France, Switzerland, Denmark, Ireland and 
other countries has shown that consolidation and the pre- 
vention of fragmentation thereafter, has made all the differ- 
ence between want and prosperity. In Denmark, to take 
but one example, 'The present law governing division of 
land and inheritance has been instrumental in preserving 
the integrity of existing holdings and in preventing frag- 
mentation. The reasonably effective consolidation of agri- 
cultural land into sizeable holdings, may be said to be an 
esscntial cause of the high state of development of Danish 
agriculture, the high standard of living of the Danish farmer, 
and the prosperity of the country as a whole. ' This is the 
opinion 1 of the World Food and Agriculture Organization. 

The cost of consolidation of holdings in India can, accord- 
ing to one authority, 2 be met by a once-ancl-for-all levy of 
four annas per acre. Although this is certainly not too great 
a sacrifi.ce to expect of India's cultivators in the interests 
not only of the country's emergent need, but very definitely 
their own, cost is not the main consideration. Consolidation 
and the prevention of future subdivision arc vital to India's 
economy as further shrinkage in the size of holdings would 
strike at the very root of the country's economic structure. 
Dr H. Mann's survey 3 of a typical village in Bombay State 
showed that the average holding had shrunk from 40 acres in 
1871 to 7 acres by 1914-15. In Hyderabad, the average 
holding decreased from 23 acres in 1880 to 14 acres in 1945. 
The same trend was apparent in Uttar Pradesh. 

1 The Consolidation of Fragmented Agricultural Holdings (F.A.O., 
September 1950), pp. 53-4. 

a B. M. Singh of the Board of Agriculture, U.P., in an article 
entitled 'How to make India Self-snfficient in Food Production' 
{The U.P. Co-operative Journal, Vol. XXVII, No. i, July 1951). 

a See Agricultural Legislation in India (Government of India, 
1950), Vol. II, p. i. 

38 



THE CONSOLIDATION OF HOLDINGS 

Fragmentation due to the co-sharers' insistence on getting 
plots in each type of soil in the holding, has led to land 
going out of cultivation, because of some plots becoming 
too small for profitable cultivation. Some idea of the extent 
to which fragmentation has ruined profitable farming can 
be gathered from the village surveys that have been carried 
out in recent years. In one Punjab village it was found 1 that 
the land was divided into 1,898 fields averaging one fifth of 
an acre, and another 2,890 holdings had each over 3 fields. 
In another village 12,800 acres were divided into 63,100 
fields. In Bihar, the average size of plot was found to be 
between 0-28 and 0-81 acres. But perhaps the worst case 
was reported from the Chattisgarh division of Madhya 
Pradesh where the average holding, generally 10 to 12 
acres, was scattered over the village in no less than 30 to 
40 small plots. In Ajmer the number of plots per holding 
varies from 3-3 to 3-5. An official publication summing 
up 2 this situation declares that the operating unit in agri- 
cultural production has become so small as to impede good 
cultivation. It is in faet considered the biggest single factor 
contributing to an unhappy state of affairs. Overhead costs 
have increased as a result and human, cattle and material 
resources can no longer be utilized economically, This 
authority further considers the existence of a very large 
number of holdings of the wrong size and shape to be an 
important reason why production and prices are so unstable. 
It calls for immediate legislative and administrative action 
to put a stop to this deplorable state of affairs. Once further 
fragmentation has been stopped, consolidation can begin 
ånd, although it is a lengthy process, it could be expedited 
with the help of a Land Army of national volunteers. 

The History of Consolidation 

It would be well here to trace briefly the history of 
measures already taken to consolidate holdings. It Was in 
1947 that the Bombay Prevention of Fragmentation and 
Consolidation of Holdings Aet No. 62, was passed. This Was 
followed in 194-8 by the East Punjab Holdings (Consolida- 
tion and Prevention of Fragmentation) Aet No. 50. These 



1 Agricultural Legislation in India, Vol. II, p. ii. 
s Ibid. 



39 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

Acts went further than any of the legislative or administra- 
tive action of the previous fif ty years, in that for the first 
time the State Government took the initiative in dealing 
with the evil of fragmented holdings. Even though these 
two Acts do not directly provide for the creation of 
economic holdings, they go far towards that end by fixing 
and determining for any area and class of land the size of a 
plot that can be profitably cultivated. This is cailed a stand- 
ard area, and any portion of land less than the appropriate 
standard area is dermed as a fragment, and the transfer or 
partition of any land "which will create a fragment is illegal. 
Breach of this provision renders the transfer or partition void 
and the offender is liable to a fine of as much as 250 rvrpees. 

The law also limits the powers of courts in that they can- 
not permit any partition which results in fragmentation. 
Even state governments and local bodies are prohibited 
from acquiring or disposing of land which leaves a fragment. 
The Bombay and Punjab Acts further empower the state 
government to notify any area in which it desires to pre- 
pare and enforce a scheme for consolidation of holdings, and 
in the Punjab Aet of 1948, proceedings for consolidation 
can be instituted either on the Government's own initiative 
or on an application made by the owner of the land. 

The faet that legislatures in most Indian states have 
favoured the principle of control and compulsion as visual- 
ized by the framers of the Bombay and Punjab Acts shows 
that there is hope yet of solving this very difficult and 
serious problem ; for in the past too much was left to the 
initiative of co-operative societies and the villagers them- 
selves. The situation was serious enough in the early part 
of this century and if compulsion rather than persuasion had 
been used then, India would today have been self-sufficient 
in food and would have been saved the many evils that have 
resulted from agricultural under-production. It now remains 
for state legislatures to enact legislation on the lines of those 
in operation in Bombay and the Punjab with the least pos- 
sible delay, and to see that prevention of fragmentation 
accompanied by consolidation of holdings becomes an 
accomplished faet for every village in India, 

The Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land 
Reforms Aet of 1952 and the Assam Panchayat Aet of 1948 

40 



THE CONSOLIDATION OF HOLDINGS 

lay on the panchayats the duty of encouraging consolidation 
of holdings on lands within their jurisdiction. But merely 
to lay this burden on the panchayats is not enough : Unless 
the state exercises compulsion, the fallure to achieve any 
substantial measure of success in consolidating holdings 
and to prevent the fragmentation which has accompanied 
persuasive measures during the last fifty years, will be 
repeated. 

The Experience of other Countries 

The experience of other countries is an interesting study. 
In Switzerland, where some of the earliest laws concerning 
consolidation of holdings were promulgated, considerable 
stimulation was given to land improvement by the State. 
The law authorized the Confederation to grant financial 
assistance 'to facilitate the application of measures tending 
to stimulate agriculture '. Consolidation of holdings was one 
of these measures and, as a general rule, 60 to 70 per cent 
of the expenses were met by federal grants. In the mountain- 
ous regions the amount was sometimes as high as 90 per 
cent. But even so generous a contribution by the govern- 
ment failed to achieve the desired end. It was realized 
eventually that in the absence of power 'to compel the 
adherence of recalcitrant owners' there could be little or 
no progress; so the Swiss Civil Code in 1912 provided for 
compulsion to be used, and when two thirds of the interested 
persons decided to carry out consolidation, the other owners 
were compelled to adhere to this decision. The land improve- 
ment syndicates established on this basis are ' public bodies 
subject to the -general supervision of the administrative 
authorities'. 

In Denmark, the Consolidation Aet of 1781 prescribes in 
detail all rules governing consolidation. Among its most 
important provisions is the right of every owner of land in 
a village to demand that his land be Consolidated. The 
authorities, in consultation with the owners of land, 
prepare a proposal for the consolidation of the whole area of 
the village, irrespective of whether or not all owners wish to 
have their land Consolidated. Another provision requires 
consolidation to be carried out in such a way that each 
owner gets the same economic area as he had previous to 

41 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

consolidation, and the quality of land is for this purpose 
determined by disinterested parties. The owners are required 
by law to contribute to the aggregate consolidation expenses 
'pro rata, according to size of their land and the immediacy 
of their interest in the operations'. Each farm in the process 
of consolidation must be given the most practical shape 
possible. Finally, if no agreement can be reached between 
the owneis of land, the dispute is settled by the authorities 
and in the last resort by the government. The present law 
governing inheritance in Denmark (and consequently 
division of land) has helped to preserve the integrality of 
existing holdings and to prevent fragmentation. 

Legislation dealing with consolidation in France was 
promulgated only in 1 9 1 8. Its provisions permittedproprietors, 
with the concurrence of a numerical majority of farmers, 
to consolidate holdings and effect any connected improve- 
ments to the land. This procedure does not seem to have 
worlced smoothly in practice and many insurmountable 
difficulties occurred. The result was that consolidation 
proceeded very slowly. It was not until 1945, when an order 
brought into force an enactment of 1941, that results came 
more rapidly. The new law gave wide powers to a 
' Communal Commission ' which appointed a large number of 
surveyors especially designated for the work of consolida- 
tion. In 1948 there were more than 600 of these surveyors 
and their number was soon expected to reach 1,000, and 
with this number it was estimated that no less than 2| 
million acres could be Consolidated annually, the total area 
requiring consolidation being about 45 million acres. It 
appears that the 1941 enactment was a popular measure, 
for, without any special propaganda by the administration, 
the number of applications for consolidation by January 
1948 had reached 2,700, affecting an area of some 5| million 
acres. The expenses of consolidation are met by the State, 
although 20 per cent is recovered from the owners after the 
completion of operations. 

In Ireland the Land Aet of 1923 provided that, with 
certain exceptions, all agricultural land in the Free State 
should, on appointed days to be declared, vest in the Land 
Commission. Wide powers were given to this Commission 
to enlarge holdings and effect other land improvement 

42 



THE CONSOLIDATION OF HOLDINGS 

measures and also to ease congestion by providing migrants 
from congested areas with land acquired elsewhere. 

The Irish experiment, which appears to have been success- 
ful, is of especial interest to India. There are parts of East 
Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere where pressure on land is so great 
and holdings are so small that it is high time thai conges- 
tion was alleviated. Voluntary migration of farming families 
is not likely to work, as people do not like to leave their 
villages, and language or dialect difficulties would arise if, 
for instance, a family migrated from the congested district 
of Gorakhpur to Hamirpur, 300 miles away, where the 
population is sparse. But if twenty square miles of cultur- 
able land were acquired in the Hamirpur district and a 
thousand families were brought from Gorakhpur and settled 
thereon, it would be a different matter altogether. The 
presence of the new population should aet as a stimulus to 
the old. With the help of a few essential facilities includ- 
ing loans for sinking wells, building houses and the like, the 
experiment, if it should be successful, and there is no reason 
why under proper supervision it should not be, would be a 
great step forward in solving a problem which is becoming 
more difncult and vexatious every year. 

In Ireland the Land Commission was given fairly wide 
powers to acquire both tenanted and untenanted land in 
uncongested areas for distribution to the incoming popula- 
tion. The procedure most suitable to Indian conditions is 
a matter for the various state administrations to determine, 
but the faet that such action has been of inestimable value 
in Ireland seems to suggest that it might solve the problem 
of congestion in India' s overpopulated districts also. 

So far as consolidation of holdings is concemed, there is 
ample evidence in India and other countries to prove that 
if it is left to private or even co-operative effort, progress 
is painfully slow. Opinions are divided on whether con- 
solidation in India should be started on a voluntary basis 
through the co-operative societies. As there is no time left 
for further experimentation, let co-operative societies be 
formed of groups of villagers for the express purpose of 
consolidating holdings. This could be done by executive 
order of each state government. Simultaneously, legislation 
should lay down inter alia a time limit wherein the entire 

43 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

cultivated area of each state is Consolidated into compact 
holdings. This would not be unfair or too hurried, for the 
advantages of consolidation would be explained to the 
farmers before they joined the society. The powers granted 
to village panchayats under the existing law should be 
sufficient to provide the necessary check to any stray 
recalcitrant elements who refused to join. If necessary, 
these powers could be enhanced to include compulsion in 
such cases. 

The Royal Commission on Agriculture in India, riearly 
a quarter of a century ago, said 'It is useless to think of 
real enduring Agriculture without Consolidation.' Yet the 
consolidation whicli has been accomplished during the last 
twenty-five years is infinitesimal. The time has come for 
state governments and legislatures to take effective steps 
to bring about speedy consolidation throughout India by 
sonae of the methods suggested here. In this the Central 
Government could do much by taking the initiative and, 
if necessary, by issuing directives. 




CHAPTER SIX 



RECLAIMIMG LAND 

' o accurate statistics exist of the land in India which 
could be reclaimed for the production of food and 
other crops. Presumably, the 93 million acres recorded 
in the Ministry of Food and Agriculture's Land Utilization 
Statistics 1 as 'culturable waste' is not all land which needs 
deep cultivation to get rid of weeds like kans [Sacchanim 
Spontanium) or which needs an elaborate scheme of drainage, 
or again land which must be treated for alkalinity or salinity 
before it can be cailed culturable. The term 'culturable 
waste ' appears to apply to old f allow and to marginal land 
which by erosion or bad management has become unprof- 
itable to cultivate. But, in essence, land which can be made 
culturable by treatment, no matter what that treatment 
may be, should be termed culturable waste land. 

It is stated officially that out of this 93 million acres, only 
10 million acres are definitely known to be culturable. Why 
then is the entire area of 93 million acres classed as culturable 
waste? The faet is that no one can make a really reliable 
estimate of the potentialities of this vast area, af ter 10 
million acres of the best of it have been set aside as definitely 
culturable. Therefore it would be best to regard as culturable 
waste all areas which by treatment, which will neither be 
too costly nor take too long, can be made productive. And 
it would be well to remember that no land can be regarded 
as productive that does not produce enough to leave a 
substantial surplus for the farmer, arter paying all expenses 
of production. To get these 83 million acres of doubtful 
cultivability or productiveness into a condition that would 
ensure a substantial surplus for the farmer, will take time, 
effort and expense. 

Be that as it may, except in so far as statistics help to get 
an idea of potential land resources and the magnitude of the 
task in terms of the number of millions of acres to be 

1 See page 3 (footnote). 

45 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

improved or reclaimed, it is immaterial to the real object 
of this discussion how near the margin of cultivation these 
lands are. India has according to official statistics 1 only 
some 400 million acres of agricultural land of which 23 per 
cent is classified as culturable waste land. It is a question of 
survival; and every acre that can produce food crops, no 
matter how difficult the process may be, provides the subject 
for this chapter on land reclamation. 

In general, the folio wing four classes of land which are to 
be found abandoned and uncultivated, are capable, by 
suitable treatment, of producing adequate returns in cash 
as well as in kind: Virgin land in malarious or otherwise 
badly drained, unhealthy and uninhabited areas; land 
infested with deep-rooted weeds, requiring modem machi- 
nery for its reclamation ; land which is alkaline or saline ; 
and land subject to constant erosion. It will suffice to 
consider the various ways of dealing with these in order to 
make them productive ; and since the methods of treatment 
are fairly well known, the object liere is simple — to draw 
attention to what steps can be taken by way of short-term 
planning in order to achieve a rapid and countrywide 
reclamation of this vast potentially productive area. 

Virgin Land in Malarious Regions 

A good example of virgin and occasionally abandoned 
land in a malarious region, is the strip of sub-montane tardi 
in Uttar Pradesh. Until recently, this region was badly 
drained, very malarious and sparsely inhabited. A few herds 
of cattle were to be seen grazing on pasture, and here and 
there were patches of cultivation. This was as unhealthy a 
tract as any in India and its vast plains of virgin land were 
covered with deep-rooted grasses and were for the most 
part badly drained. Mosquitoes and disease germs fiourished. 
In the short space o:E rive years, a large part of this tarai 
area in one district has been transformed by a well devised 
and wisely directed plan drawn up by the Uttar Pradesh 
administration. Anti-malarial operations have reduced the 
incidence of malarial fever to almost nil. Roads and budd- 
ings have appeared and mechanized farming has produced 
heavy yields of food crops over a large area where it once 

1 See page 7 (footnote), 
46 



RECLAIMING LAND 

seemed impossible ever to get people to live and nourish. 
The expenditure on this venture has been more than 
justified ; for not only are the dividend returns substantial, 
but thousands of tons of food are being produced and the 
countryside is becoming populated, relieving the congested 
areas from which the agricultural labour has been largely 
drawn. Here is a practical demonstration of what can be 
done with reclaimable land: It is of inestimable value. Let 
this excellent work be repeated all over India, until not a 
single acre is left abandoned because of bad drainage or 
unhealthy conditions. 

Water-logged areas are, however, by no means confined to 
sub-montane territory. Cases of badly drained land are 
often found more inland. Very often these water-logged 
lands were once rich helds, but have gone out of cultivation 
because of faulty planning and execution of badly designed 
schemes of railway and highway construction. These lands, 
now soured, can be reclaimed by the simple expedient of 
drainage, Making culverts, drains, pumping up water and 
the like will, of course, involve expenditure; but it will be 
found to be nationally profitable to make a survey, as early 
as possible, of all such reclaimable land. Let each state 
undertake these surveys, estimating expenditure and 
constructing drains and culverts until every acre which has 
become soured by water-logging is reclaimed for profitable 
agriculture. And let this form part of a serious national drive 
for self-sufhciency in food, and let those in authority aet 
with wisdom and with speed. 

Weed-infested Land 

The second category of reclaimable waste land, namely 
that infested with kans, a deep-rooted grass, has been 
tackled by the Central Government; and if the Five-Year 
Plan is completed to schedule, millions of acres will have 
been either reclaimed or improved by 1956. Other deep- 
rooted weeds are mostly controllable by means of the 
cultivators' own implements; but kans needs the drastic 
treatment which heavy tractors and deep modem ploughs 
alone can provide satisfactorily, except in rice-growing 
tracts where it can be drowned, The roots of this weed form 
a matting some 12 inches below the surface, and it is only 

47 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

when they are dug up and exposed to the scorching sun that 
they die, unless drowned or choked as in rice rieids. Other- 
wise each root node will form a fresh kans plant. It is devas- 
tating in its effect on agriculture, for it seems to spread 
rapidly, gradually strangling the efforts of the farmer to 
grow crops in those parts of his fieids which are compara- 
tively free of the weed. The ploughing provided by tractors 
digs 12 inches and more in to the rich soil, with the result 
that in addition to the weed being killed, the yields of 
crops are improved both under dry and under irrigated 
conditions. 

The main solution after deep ploughing is to keep the 
land properly cropped and cultivated and so prevent the 
reappearance of the kans shoots above ground. Otherwise 
the formerly infested land is liable to become infested again. 
The State will have to take special steps to see that this does 
not happen, or the vast sums spent on reclaiming or im- ' 
proving these lands will have been spent in vain. 

The expedient of drowning this noxious weed by capturing 
monsoon water in the fieids and kecping it there long 
enough is feasible; but it needs initiative, and this is not 
always forthcoming in cultivators to the desired degree, 
The same applies to digging out the weed by hånd. It is 
improbable that the Five-Year Plan covers the entire area 
threatened by kans infestation in India, but the good work 
begun by the Central Tractor Organization must be contin- 
ued. The various state governments will have to make 
accurate surveys of lands needing the drastic treatment 
provided either by this Organization or by a Land Develop- 
ment Corporation (see chapter eleven). They will further have 
to see that wisely planned cultivation subsequent to deep 
ploughing by tractors, keeps the weed from reappearing. 

Alkaline (Usar) Land 

The third category of land in need of reclamation is 
perhaps the most interesting. Alkaline and saline lands, 
like ÆaMs-infested lands, are, from the point of view of this 
discussion, of two main classes : those that are f airly easily 
reclaimed and those that need more drastic treatment. In 
the former case, 'land improvement' would probably be a 
fitting description of the operations needed, while in the 

48 



Mm 



•58SJ %^# V-VMiit ■•! 






#«s 






; ^.v'; : -'-^ ,, " t ** 













Cultivated slope near a riparian hamlet, No attempt has been made to prevent 
erosion by terracing. That is the beginning. . . 



and this is the end. Vast areas of valnable alluvial land along our river banks 
have bcen laid wastc by neglecting ordinary ptecautiuns against erosion. 






mm 



w J - 



lessu 



mm 






æSajiB 



'*5 






KlIlIÉ 







This is wliat happens tn the uplands bordcring on our main rivers U 
erosion is not takuu in hånd in tirao, 



Ellorts to save by affurestation what is lait of badly eroded rocley land bordaring on 
Central India. Observe tlie pits prepared for plaiiting hardy troes against the slope. 



Ismz 





















^k^w^^SSBaBéif Sifs 



ffi** 












Pæ*p 



Srøliia 



Mern 



tv •• **»*_: 



RECLAIMING LAND 

latter, more difficult case, the term 'land reclamation' is 
more appropriate. 

Here again no reliable statistics are available of the areas 
actually affected by the presence in the soil of alkaline or 
saline salts, or of the extent of the infection. All we know 
is that such areas as are affected and can be improved or 
reclaimed for profitable cultivation run into millions of 
acres, and that it is well worthwhile taking up the work of 
reclamation on a national scale. Once improved or reclaimed, 
these lands grow good crops of rice, a badly needed cereal 
grain in India and in faet in the whole of South-east Asia. 

Dr B. K. Mukerji, an authority on usar land, a name given 
to soils suffering from alkalinity, divides these soils into 
three groups. In the first group are mildly alkaline and 
easily reclaimable soils with a pH of 7-6 to 8-5. In the 
second group consisting of moderately alkaline soils, which 
are more difficult to reclaim, the pH varies from 8-7 to 9 -4. 
In the third group, the pH is from 9 ■ 4 to 10 • 8. 1 The difficulty 
of reclaiming this last group precludes it from the present 
discussion which is only concerned with the steps that can 
be taken with the reasonable hope of a substantial increase 
in India's food-producing capacity within a short time. 

Mildly alkaline soils occur either in areas completely 
abandoned or in patches on normal soils. These patches 
sometimes take up a large part of the field and therefore 
make cultivation and other field operations difficult, rather 
similar in effect to patches of the noxious weed kans. 
It frequently happens that the farmer cultivates these 
patches, ignoring them because they are small, and scatters 
seed on them as in the rest of the field. But when the crop 
comes up it is patchy in growth, the barren patches corres- 
ponding to the presence of usar. 

Mukerji suggests three cures. First, the application of 
heavy doses of water to wash away the injurious alkali 
salts. But water is not always available and if it is taken 
from ordinary wells, it is frequently itself alkaline. The 
second and third methods are agronomic and chemical, the 
former involving the growth of suitable crops or plantations 
and the latter the application of such chemical correctives 

1 See Report of the Usar Land, Reclamation Committee (Govern- 
ment of the United Provinces, 1938-9). 

49 



BETWEEN VS AND HUNGER 

to the soil as gypsum, calcium chloride and sugar factory 
press mud. Experience has shown that for soils of the mildly 
alkaline kind, a combination of the mechanical and the 
agronomic methods is faiiiy effective, and that where the 
alkalinity is more pronounced, some chemical corrective in 
addition is necessary. The agronomic approach is feasible 
and largely effective, but the application of chemicals is at 
present rnuch too expensive to consider for large-scale 
reclamation. Sugar factory press mud is very useful; but 
the high cost of transport prevents the large-scale appli- 
cation of press mud to areas far distant from sugar factorics. 
Dr N. R. Dhar 1 considers molasses applied in large doses to 
be a cure for such alkaline conditions ; but here again the 
approach presents the practical difficulties of transport and 
handling. 

The most effective and practicablc remedy to apply to 
alkaline conditions depends firstly on the amount of 
alkalinity present and secondly on whether this condition 
affects fairly large blocks of land more or less uniformly, 
or whether it occurs in patches witlhn fields which are other- 
wise productive. Let us first consider the latter. Patches of 
asar are more common in some parts of India than are 
patches of deep-rooted weeds. The patches may take up 
anything from 10 to 50 per cent of the area under the plough. 
Their presence adversely affects agricultural production in 
that the farmer ploughs up the patches and scatters seed 
on them simply because it is too much trouble to demarcate 
them and to avoid ploughing or sowing them. Therefore 
both labour and seed is wasted. The remedy lies in a realistic 
approach: to clemarcate the patches with pegs made from 
the waste woody stalks of arhar, cotton and other such 
crops, before the harvest of the crop actnally occupying 
the field. During the early part of the rainy season, assuming 
that we are dealing with dry or non-irrigated land, these 
patches should be ploughed up or dug up by hånd, depend- 
ing on their size and shape. The rain will then soak into them 
and wash down much of the injurious salts. A month or so 
after the commencement of the rams, the farmer should 
apply a fair amount of cow-dung or other organic manure 

1 N. R. Dhar and S. K. Mukerji : 'Alkali Soils and their Recla- 
mation' {Agriculture avd Livestock in India, 10B8), vi. 8o0. 

50 



RECLAIMING LAND 

to the patches under treatment. Where the patches are 
large enough for a plough, green manuring with dhaincha or 
sann hemp, two useful legumes, will usually have excellent 
effect. The crop must be ploughed in during the rams, when 
the stems are still supple, preferably during the first half of 
August. The very first crop taken from the held thus treated 
will be an improvement on the previous one. Gradually, 
as the treatment is repeated each year, the patches of alka- 
linc soil will disappear. Where irrigation is available the 
disappearance will be quicker, especially if press mud or 
heavy doses of bulky manure have been applied. Barley is 
a good crop to sow immediately after the rains, if moisture 
conditions permit, because it is partially resistent to mildly 
alkaline conditions. For large areas completely or almost 
completely abandoned because of the presence of alkali 
salts in the soil and their effect on production, the treatment 
is somewhat different though chemically very similar. 

It must be borne in mind that the worst kind of usar soils 
are not being considered for the moment as they present 
a much bigger problem, namely one of breaking through 
the hard impervious layers of kankar or crude calcium 
carbonate or even hard clay, penetrating to the great depths 
which prevent rain or irrigation water from draining away 
injurious salts by the normal process of percolation as is 
common in all healthy and well drained soils. For this 
class of soil, it will suffice to indicate that the remedy is a 
long-term one. The roots of trees and shrubs help to restore 
normal soil drainage in such soils. Gradually, grass appears 
under the trees and in this way the bad usar is reclaimed 
over a number of years for grazing and afforestation. The 
following actual case of a cure for such alkaline soil is 
instructive. 

Bishan Man Singh of Bilanda Farm, Fatehpur, Uttar 
Pradesh, tells of his experience in reclaiming usar land, and 
this is so valuable that it is reproduced here in some detail. 
He tells the story of what actually happened to about a 
square mile of moderate-to-bad usar land acquired in 1903 
and classified in government records as unculturable waste 
land or ghair mumkin. A low barrier about one foot in width 
and the same in height was erected round this area with the 
object of demarcating it. During the rains, because of the 

U\fc<V* 51 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

impermeability of the surface, water was held on the land 
"by this barrier surrounding it. This seemed to help to wash 
down injurious salts, for gradually grasses like hans, and 
.shrubs like jharbm, a wild jububa, babool and madar began 
to appear. The last mentioned, the madar plant, the seed 
■oi which is blown about in the wind, was found to be of 
special interest, because 3 to 4 feet round the piants good 
grazing grasses began to flourish. Grazing was controlled 
to allow these grasses to spread. Seeds of the babool tree, a 
hardy acacia, were sown regularly every year and, although 
to begin with germination and subsequent survivals were 
poor, in about ten years a good plantation of these trees 
•was secured. Under the trees was ample evidence of grazing 
grasses and perennial weeds, the roots of which helped to 
open up the usar soil. It was observed that babool trees 
flourished when the seed was planted near madar piants 
and that those seeds which were collected from the droppings 
of cattle genninated and flourished better than seed collected 
direct from the pods of the tree. 

By 1930, the reclamation of this fairly bad usar land was a 
'Complete success in so far as afforestation and good grazing 
were secured where nothing grew before.'. But an attempt 
made, over some 40 acres of this area, to grow cereals failed 
because the wild shrubs and grasses flourished and crowded 
out the cultivated piants. A few babool trees would still dry 
up each year, but there was no trace of a hard pan of kankar 
in the subsoil when dug to a depth of 8 to 9 feet, where the 
•drying occurred. By 1934, Bishan Man Singh was securing 
remarkable yields of rice on this very area where cereals 
had failed before. He attributes his success to the building 
•of a substantial embankment round the area on three sides 
towards the Iower end. This held up rainwater brought in 
irom higher ground. The water was let out periodically up 
to the middle of August by making cuts in the embankment, 
the cuts being repaired as soon as the water, containing 
injurious salts, was drained out. The area was puddled for 
a late paddy crop after heavy doses of farmyard manure 
had been applied. Before puddling, the kans and jharberi 
piants which had appeared were cut by large sickles and did 
not appear again because, with water standing on the area, 
the paddy plant could flourish, but the roots of the others 

m 



RECLAIMING LAND 

were suffocated. Very good yields of a locai coarse paddy 
were secured in this way — as high as 50 maunds, or over 
4000 Ib. , per acre— and in 1938-9 when the monsoon was good, 
a second crop of barley, gram and wheat was taken after 
harvesting the paddy. It was found that in this process. 
perennial weeds completely disappeared. Another curious 
phenomenon was that large cracks appeared all over the 
fieids after harvest. At the present time this area is manured 
heavily each year with farmyard compost to which a light 
dressing of slaked lime is added to help make the soil friable. 

That briefly is the story of the reclamation of a square 
mile of moderate to bad usar. It is a long story, but it has. 
an important bearing on the subject of reclaiming India 's 
vast plains of usar for food production. For if the moderately 
alkaline lands are left untreated and uncared for, they will 
be grazed indiscriminately as soon as any grass appears 
thereon, when herds of hungry cattle, half starved during 
the hot, dry months preceding the break of the monsoon, 
will rush to pick up the first young shoots of green grass 
that appear with the advent of the rainy season. The already 
partly impervious soil, laden with injuriens salts, wiil 
become more impervious by the puddling effect of the 
numerous hoofs of hungry cattle trampling it, as indeed 
happens, and its ill effect goes on from year to year. 

The remedy applied at Bilanda can be applied over 
millions of acres. It is a question of organized demons- 
tration and controlled grazing. What took thirty years to 
achieve at Bilanda on moderate-to-bad usar may take less> 
than five years on mild-to-moderate usar. Let the work of 
improvement and reclamation of alkaline soils be taken up' 
seriously by the State, as part of both short- and long-term. 
food production plans. There is ample experience and. 
experimental data to work on. 

Saline Land 

In addition to reclaimable alkaline lands, there are vast 
areas affected by salinity, mostly in canal-irrigated areas. 
Sodium sulphate in large quantities characterizes the 
Punjab saline lands and sodium carbonate those of Uttar 
Pradesh. The problem here is simplified to some extent by 
the faet that saline soils generally occur where the subsoil 

53 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

is porous and allows the leaching out of harmful salts. 
Deep cultivation and the growing of resistant crops like 
Tice or cotton have given good results. The fieids are 
embanked in blocks of a quarter of an acre each and water 
is kept standing in them. The water is drained off from time 
to time, each time fresh water being impounded. This 
process of leaching is continued for about two months, after 
M'hich rice is sown, early in June. If salinity should reappear 
in subsequent years, the process is repeated. This method 
cannot generally be used in Uttar Pradesh because of the 
presencc of impervious subsoil which precludes ordinary 
leaching. But even in Uttar Pradesh there are large areas, 
commanded by canals, where the salinity is caused largely 
by the rise of the subsoil water table. Fortuna.tely the subsoil 
is often permeable in these areas, and leaching, as in the 
Punjab, can be practised with benerit. The use of organic 
manures like cattle-dung and green manure as additions to 
leaching and deep cultivation has been successful in 
reclaiming areas such as these. 

The fourth group of lands in need of reclamation, namely 
lands subject to erosion, has already been discussed in an 
earlier chapter. It is of far greater importance than alkaline 
•or saline lands, but the remed]- for erosion is simple, and 
the results quick. 

* * * 

The foregoing discussion is mostly of short cuts to the 
reclamation of the four major classes of potentially 
productive land which for one reason or another has become 
unproductive. There are two further classes of land for which 
long-term treatment is necessary. Not all of the land thus 
categorized can be classed as culturable waste; but it can 
be made use of for two important national purposes, namely 
grazing and afforestation. Since both the land available for 
grazing and that on which fuel and other wood is produced, 
fall far short of the national requirement, it is desirable 
that the subject be examined. 

Unproductive Grazing Land 

Taking first the potentially productive grazing lands, it 
is a common sight during the first fortnight of the monsoon 
to find, on green patches of the large plains, stray herds of 

54 



RECLAIMING LAND 

cattle wandering about trying to pick up what grass they 
can. As has already been stated, they are so hungry that 
they rush to the grass as it struggles to appear and rapidly 
devour it. 

It is intcresting to examine why this grass is in patches 
and not uniformly distributed over the entire area. In the 
first place, one has to remember that grasses have a severe 
struggle for existence in any grazing area where the rainfall 
is concentrated over 3 or 4- months of the year, for during 
the remaining 8 or 9 months these grasses tend to dry up. 
In the second place, a heavy concentration of a vast cattle 
population prevents recovery by trampling wet ground 
and by over-grazing during the first two or three weeks of 
the monsoon. It is true that the droppings of dung and urine 
help to stimulate the growth of grasses; but the effect of 
drought and trampling is disastrous. 

The only effective way of dealing with this state of affairs 
is to prohibit any grazing of these areas for one, two or three 
monsoon seasons, taking the cattle to more distant areas 
or providing them with hay or straw from surplus areas. 
This will be difhcult at first, but unless firm action on these 
lines is taken the situation will continue to deteriorate. 
With the development of intensively farmed areas and 
the expected increasc in the yields of cereal crops there will 
be a surplus of bhusa (trampled wheat straw), rice straw, 
legumes and other crops, which could be baled by machine 
and transported to the areas where cattle are highly concen- 
trated. This bulky fodder, combined with whatever safe 
grazing is available locally, should tide over the difficult 
period of reclamation of the grazing grounds. 

Fencing would unfortunately be too expensive on a 
national scale, unless foreign aid for this specific purpose 
was forthcoming under one or other of the current plans for 
economic aid to India. Anyway, fencing alone is not 
sufficient. Village watchmen will, amongst others, have to 
be responsible for keeping these areas absolutely free of 
cattle during the period of reclamation. Reclamation could, 
of course., be accelerated by the scattering of grass secds, 
together with small quantities of well rotted and fmely 
divided compost or other bulky organic manure, over the 
area during the early part of the monsoon. The success of 

55 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

this method will however depend very largely on the amount 
and distribution of rainfall after the seed and manure have 
been scattered. Should the rain be inadequate in quantity 
or badly distributed, the process will have to be repeated 
the following monsoon in the hope that the rainfall will be 
more satisfactory. 

When finally the grass has been established, it would be 
well to graze it gradually or by rotation so as to avoid 
causing a repetition of the trouble. Rotational grazing 
implies the control of the cattle moving over the grazing 
area in such a way that at no time is any part of it over- 
grazed. And the cattle must not be allowed to enter the 
grazing area too early, when the grass is as yet young and 
the ground wet. These measures apply to the plains: In the 
fertile sub-montane grazing areas, there is never any danger 
of the grasses being over-grazed or of the cattle entering 
when the soil is too wet, for in these parts the grasses are 
rich and so thick that they can resist the trampling of cattle. 
Also, as the soils are usually deep and clayey, the cattle 
will not risk the discomfort of entering the wet spots, 
especially when there is ample high ground free of excessive 
moisture where the grasses are rich in growth. 

The same applies to the hills of India where, in general, 
the forests provide adequate grazing all the year round. 
There are piaces, however, in the hills and sub-montane 
plains, where the quality of grazing grasses is in need of 
improvement. The work of Boshi Sen in Almora has shown 
quite defmitely that the legume kudzu, imported from the 
U.S.A., grows luxuriantly in the hills and greatly improves 
the quality of grazing available. The vines of this wonder- 
plant can be seen growing to great lengths on almost soil- 
less rocky projections at the Vivekanand Laboratory, 
Almora. The luxuriance of the piants attracts cattle and the 
resultant benefits to the cattle are inestimable. In the states 
of South Carolina and Alabama, U.S.A., this plant is used 
to reclaim vast areas where erosion has played havoc. The 
vines spread so rapidly that the ravines created by erosion 
are filled by them. The soil-laden water which rushes down 
these ravines during rainy weather, is checked by a network 
of kudzu vines. The soil is here deposited and the ravines 
are gradually filled up. Grazing goes on at the same time, 

56 



RECLAIMING LAND 

for the vines spread over the rest of the ground as well. In 
dealing with the improvement, as distinct from the reclam- 
ation, of grazing areas in hilly and sub-montane areas- 
where the rainfall is generally adequate and well distributed,. 
it would be well to use piants like kudzu which have proved 
their value, for the purpose, 

Another useful plant is the Giant Star grass (Cynodon 
Plectostachytim) , imported from Africa and tried with consid- 
erable success at Almora and elsewhere. The growth of this. 
grass, which is a giant type of the common dub grass 
(Cynodon Dactylon) is extremely rapid and it provides bulky 
grazing of better quality than most existing grasses. While 
kudzu is a legume, Giant Star grass is not. Nevertheless 
both are superior in quality to most of the existing grasses 
and legumes found in hilly and sub-montane areas in India, 

Shrub-covered and Rocky Land 

The other class of land for which long-term reclamation 
is necessary, is the vast undulating shrub-covered but mostly 
rocky areas found in Central India, as far north as Alwar,. 
as far west as Mirzapur, U. P., and near Delhi. These lands 
are in the process of erosion, but the presence of shrubs and 
some trees, together with inferior grasses, prevents their 
being laid waste completely. Goats and sheep wander over 
these areas, some of which provide shellac and catechu 
(kuththa) as commercially valuable products. In general, 
however, these areas have been abandoned as hopeless for 
any productive purpose ; and yet there is much that can be 
done to reclaim them, in parts of this vast tract to begin 
with, for utilization as potential forest and grazing areas. 

The method suggested for adoption under these conditions- 
is simple and inexpensive. Some years ago the members 
of the Golf Club at Jhansi in Bundhelkhand, anxious to 
find a solution to the bare rocky hill-tops on the course,. 
presenting too hard a surface to a bouncing golf ball, asked 
an agricultural expert if nothing could be done to improve 
matters. He had clay collected and, af ter kneading it with 
water, had it applied in strips a few inches high in circles. 
round the rocky tops. This was done just before the rainy 
season. The clay stuck to the rocky surface like glue and 
refused to be washed down by the heavy rain which came- 

5T 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

'up against it, leaving a thin deposit of silt in the angle made 
by the clay and the rocky surface. Presently there were 
more showers of rain and more silt was deposited in the 
same way, until towards the end of the monsoon strips of 
'thin soil a foot or more in width were deposited wherever 
ihe clay clung to the rock, and on this thin soil was found a 
apontaneous growth of green grasses. 

The history of mankind is full of instances where some 
■small occurrence, apparcntly of no great signincance, has 
led to epoch-making discoveries. James Watt observed 
the cover of a kettle bubbling up under pressure of the steam 
■within, and discovered the possibility of using steam to 
provide the motive power in a locomotive. Sir Isaac Newton 
xecognized the law of gravity while watching apples drop 
from a trec. Who can sav what revolution in land reclam- 
ation the simple method of getting grass to grow on 
sloping rocky surfaces, might bring abont if followed up 
by an enterprising and far-sighted State ? At any rate, since 
the method is inexpensive it is worth trying. 

The soil held up by clayey obstructions will in any case 
increase the area under grazing grasses. It is also probable 
■that by blocking or plugging ravines at intervals, silting up 
will occm* to such an extent as to open up the possibility of 
afforestation in these otherwise barren lands. For this 
purpose it would be wise to divide the millions of acres of 
such territory into blocks of convenient size, placing each 
block in the care of a competent official, the entire scheme 
being controlled by an officer of the status of head of a 
State Agriculture or Forest Department. 

So far as India's desert and semi-desert tracts are con- 
cerned, the time may come when some method is discovered 
of rcclaiming them for the use of the nation. W. W. Mackie of 
ihe University of Berkeley has evolved a technique of his own 
for the reclamation of such land in California: He maltes 
the most of dew and rain by the judicious use of the right 
type of fertilizer. The problem in India as elsewhere is a 
long-range one. 'It needs careful study and research. Science 
has achieved wonderful results in so many helds that India 
should not despair of finding a way to reclaim semi-desert, 
if not completety desert, tracts for grazing, afforestation and 
•even for arable farming. 



CH APTER SE VEN 



DRT FARMING 

India' s agricultural production depends more on dry 
or rain-fed farming than on the comparatively small 
area under irrigation. Out of the 244 million acres 
under cultivation, only 48 million acres are at present irri- 
gated ; roughly a fifth. Four fifths of the area of this sub- 
continent depends entirely on the monsoon and a little 
winter rain for its food as well as for all the other crops 
grown. Even when the Five-Year Plan has succeeded in 
achieving its target, only about 8-8 million more acres will 
have been added to India's irrigated area and, if this is 
ultimately increased by senernes under investigation, 16f 
million acres will, according to present indications, have 
been added to the 48 million acres already under irrigation. 
Some 180 million acres will still depend entirely on rainfall 
to produce the food, fibres, oilseed and fodder needed to 
support possibly 400 million people and 200 million cattle. 
This is a small area to support so large a population ; and 
the monsoon is never reliable. The winter rain is also most 
erratic, although in the Gangetic Plain the two inches of 
winter rain if received regularly between mid-December and 
mid-January, following a normal monsoon, would under 
present conditions probably result in enough food being 
produced to meet a large part of the present annual deficit. 
But neither the monsoon nor the winter rain can be relied 
upon ; and the Indian cultivator has not yet mastered the 
art of rain-fed farming; nor has anything like sufficient 
thought, money and time been spent by the agricultural 
departments of the various state governments on studying 
the subject. 

It was only a few years ago that the Indian Council of 
Agricultural Research initiated its schemes for research on 
dry-farming and established centres for this purpose at 
Raichur, Sholapur and Bijapur in Bombay Deccan and at 
Rohtak in the Punjab, Some work has also been done at 

59 



BETWEEN VS AND HUNGER 

Bharari in the Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh. These 
centres are not in themselves, however, sufficient for the 
196 million acres on which dry or rain-fed farming is of 
necessity practised. 

No work has been done on the desert and semi-desert 
lands of Rajasthan where cultivation of a sort is carried on 
in patches, nor have the rice-growing tracts been tackled 
in earnest from the point of view of making the maximum 
use of the heavier rainfall they receive. The vast wheat- 
growing areas of the Gangetic Plain present their own peculiar 
problems of conserving moisture and of getting the maxi- 
mum benefit of whatever rain is received either directly 
from the clouds or from the rivers that flow through this 
great granary of India. The only really valuable work done 
on river irrigation is that of C. H. Parr who showed how 
to increase yields by running the surplus water off rivers 
into canals and thence to rabi helds and by making it stand 
in these helds from early August to mid-September, in order 
to increase the available moisture for the subsequent wheat 
or barle5^ crop brought to maturity under rain-fed condi- 
tions. There is no doubt, however, that what work has so far 
been initiated is valuable, and some of the main conclusions- 
arrived at in official research centres are discussed here. 

Opening up the Soil 

It is observed that fieids intended for dry rabi or winter 
crops should be opened up prior to the monsoon by ploughing 
or sub-soiling so as to make possible the maximum absorption 
of waier during the rainy season. This is perhaps the most 
important conclusion and is one which merits adoption for 
the entire area represented by the experimental station 
where this work was carried out, if not further afield, even 
though in actual practice there are certain obstacles to be 
overcome before the farmers can take to this sort of cultiva- 
tion. The chief of these is that during the period between 
the rabi harvest in March and the advent of the rains in 
June, bullock- and man-power available is busily engaged 
in threshing ; the laborious process of treading straw to con- 
vert it into small smooth pieces (bMtsa), and in winnowing. 
(Winnowing is largely dependent on wind and often takes 
a long time to finish.) By the time the grain has been bagged 

60 



DRY FARMING 

and the bhusa stored, the soil is often so baked and hard 
that opening it up is physically impossible with average- 
sized bullocks. 

There are two solutions. The first lies in opening up the 
soil immediately after the rabi harvest. This is most import- 
ant because evaporation from the harvested held in the hot 
and dry months following harvest causes a hard and dry 
crust to form, and this crust gets trucker and deeper every 
day. In the absence of more suitable implements the grower 
has to depend on the desi or indigenous plough; and in 
light soils this implement will do the job, though not ade- 
quately. But in heavier soils a light steel plough that will 
leave the land in a cloddy condition has been known to give 
much better results. The second solution depends on quick 
threshing and winnowing with simple machines like the 
Olpad thresher and the hand-winnowing machine. This will 
release the necessary bullock- and man-power for timely 
cultivation. 

Where tractors are available, a sub-soiler which makes 
an incision in the soil without opening it up too much is 
often useful under certain conditions. A bullock-drawn 
rooter has also proved useful in clayey loams. But perhaps 
the quickest way to deal with a fairly large area is to use 
a modern bullock-driven cultivator. The need for this and 
other suitable bullock-drawn implements is apparent. In the 
matter of design the Allahabad Agricultural Institute has 
done very valuable work and much useful advice is avail- 
able there on the use of steel implements drawn by bullocks. 
For post-rabl harvest operations on fairly heavy loams, 
a steel plough with a moderate size mouldboard is recom- 
mended by the Institute. The hot winds preceding the mon- 
soon tend to have a harmful effect on the soil, which be- 
comes too dry, often causing loose particles to be blown 
about. Local soil and climatic conditions will dictate wbat 
implement will give the best results for post-harvest and 
pre-monsoon cultivation in each village. In most cases such 
cultivation is preferable to leaving the held untreated until 
the rains come. 

Opening up the soil immediately after harvest has many 
advantages. Apart from the beneficial effect of incorporating 
the rabi stubble into the soil and increasing nitrification, the 

61 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

soil is thus prepared for the absorption of the monsoon rain. 
A further distinct advantage is that the seeds of a green 
manure crop like sann hemp can be scattered in the field 
before the rains set in. An early start for this crop is thus 
ensured and it is ready all the quicker to be ploughed 
under. If a crop like maize or juar is desired, it will benerit 
greatly from pre-monsoon cultivation. 

In a previous chapter, embanking to secure greater ab- 
sorption of water for soil and underground supplies has been 
discussed. Absorption would be further facilitated by pre- 
monsoon cultivation. Also, the heavier showers of rain will 
tend to level up slightly uneven portions of each held. 
Excessive accumulation of water can always be run off from 
time to time ; but under rain-fed conditions the more mois- 
ture the better, except where clay soils tend to become 
waterlogged. Embanking and pre-monsoon cultivation, the 
two main methods of capturing the maximum amount of 
precipitation, deserve the earnest attention of all who 
sponsor increased production imder rain-fed conditions. 

Ploughing 

Secondly, official research centres confirm the remedies 
already stressed in these pages, in recommending the bunding 
or embanking of fieids to stop surface run-off and to ensure the 
subseqneut increase in the moisture status of the soil ; and, 
similarly, the affirmation that fielås should be ploughed with 
an implement during the dry monlhs preceding the monsoon 
coincides with what has just been said regarding the use of 
suitable implements. 

The indications apparently are that, for light soils and 
alluvial soils generally, shallow ploughing is to be preferred 
to deep ploughing. Under most dry-farming conditions, a 
sub-soiler used before the monsoon secures the necessary 
moisture for soil and subsoil without harming the surface 
soil by too much exposure to the extremely dry and hot 
conditions during the two or three months preceding the 
monsoon. In soils other than rich clay, exposure is undesir- 
able, and for these a light ploughing is advocated. 

Pre-monsoon ploughing with a soil-inverting plough under 
dry-farming conditions is fully justified where rainfall is 
ample and the texture of the soil heavy; or, during the 

62 



DRY FARMING 

rains, where weeds have to be eradieated with the aid of 
the plough. The eradication of weeds is, however, achieved 
automatically wherever water, held up by bumding, stand?p 
in the held. When heavy ram occurs and a good deal is 
absorbed into the subsoil, there is generally a surplus that 
makes conditions too wet for weeds to rlourish. 

It is best to use a cultivator immediately after harvesting, 
the rabi or winter crop, and a light desi plough immediately 
after the kharif or monsoon crop has been harvested, where 
the soil is of light texture. The multi-tined cultivator is a 
useful implement because it does not open up the soil too 
much, and the areas to be treated can be covered at three 
to four times the speed of the desi plough. Speed is import- 
ant because the longer this operation is delayed after the 
harvest, the harder will the soil get ; and the harder it gets, 
the more difficult it is for the point of the implement, 
whether plough or cultivator, to penetrate the surface soil. 

Planting the Seed 

Two further conclusions reached in the research centres 
are so closely linked that they might be discussed together, 
The one asserts that mulching of the hard. dry crust of the 
surface soil should be done by intercultwe between rows of 
the growing crop to reduce to a minimum loss of moisturc 
due to evaporation. The other suggests widening the spaci-ng 
of rows from 12 to 18 inches for the purpose of partially creat- 
ing a fallow effect. Both might well be modified in the light 
of experience gained by others. In general, mulching has 
more than a moisture-saving value: Weeds are kept down, 
and plant growth is stimulated. For spacing between rows, 
12 inches for rabi and 30 inches or more for certain kharif 
crops give good results. Both conclusions involve the use of a 
seed-drill in the first instance or, possibly, dibbkng by hånd 
on carefully drawn straight lines in cases where the field 
is too small or irregular in shape for the use of a seed-drill 
or even for sowing by means of dropping the seed behind 
the plough. 

One of the most disappointing aspects of work done b3? 
various agricultural experts during the past half century, 
is the faet that none of them have evolved a really first- 
rate seed-drill suitable for use by the dry farmer on a small 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

holding. The seed-drills of modem design in use liere and 
there on a very small scale are either too complicated or 
-too expensive for the Indian farmer. On large helds, exist- 
ing seed-drills can be used to a limited extent, but if helds 
are to be bunded or embanked, the seed-drill must be a 
light and simple device that can be lifted easily over the 
•embankment going from one held to another. Perhaps a 
two-pronged drill of the hollow tube type, in which the seed 
rate per acre could be controfled and any number of seeds 
deposited at the optimum depth-in each line, would be the 
.answer. Now that research workers on dry farming have 
:suggested 12 to 18 inches as a suitable distance between 
tows of crops, it ought to be possible to perfect a seed-drill. 

It must be borne in mind that in dry farming, getting the 
seed into the soil within the short time usually available 
between showers of rain is a tricky business demanding 
both cate and speed. Theieiore, ii soling m tows is to be- 
<come a generally accepted practice, the seed-drill used must 
be one which the grower can nianipulate with ease and with 
: good effect. It must also be simple and cheap. Perhaps if 
sufficiently large prizes were to be of ered for seed-drills suit- 
able for different kinds of dry-farming conditions through- 
out India, people with inventive minds would be induced 
to hnd the answer to this problem. Till then, the age old 
practices of broadcasting or scattering the seed, or dropping 
it behind the plough or, at most, using the improved country- 
made seed-driUs, will continue. Recently a three-pronged 
seeding attachment to the 'Wah Wah and 'Shabash' 
•cultivators, introduced to the market by the Agricultural 
Institute, Allahabad, has given good results. This type of 
simple but effective seed-drill might well provide the answer 
to the conditions prevailing in North-west India. The future 
■development of bullock-drawn implements must necessarily 
depend on efhciency combined with cheapness and simplicity. 

It is difficult to estimate what effect the use of a really 
suitable seed-drill for grain crops would have on food pro- 
duction under dry-farming conditions. One can only discuss 
the effect that raising grain crops in rows with the help of 
inter-line culture, would have on the all-important factors 
of moisture and nitrificatiom Row piants receiving inter- 
culture are much better developed and are likely to give 






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rjsm:> 



Å stib-soiler, hitchcd to a tractor, is about to enter the soil. Observe tlie shape 
and size of the implement wliich is of dcfinite valne under dry-farming eonditions. 



The sub-soiler has hecu drawn into the soiland subsoil to a depth ol about 2 ft. A 
lighter sub-soiler for use with bullock-power would be a, valuable inr.ovatkin. 



fMtøPiPPPf 







wfm : 












É» 



K 



JMM9 









Althar, a lentil (Cajanus Indiens). On the left is a heavy-yielding tall variety 

and on the right an inferior dwarf variety. Arkar plays an important part in crop 

rotations in dry fanning. 



An artesian well. A tube bored 150 to 500 ft into the earth's crust sometimes 
meels water under pressure enough to send it above ground like this. Usually, 
however, it is only cnuugh to send the wator to withiu 30 to 50 ft of the surface. 







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DRY F ARMIN G 

considerably liighcr yiclds than those raised by merely 
scattering the seed and waiting for the crop to mature ; and 
this is onc of the improvements which would make all the 
difference between unscientific and scientific farming. The 
food situation demands as speedy a transition as possible 
from the one to the other. 

As row planting must be accompanied by inter-line culture 
to get the best results, the next question to consider is the 
implement most likely to give greatest satisfaction in stirring 
the soil between the rows of piants. Such an implement must 
do two things. In the firsl place it must stir the soil lightly 
without damaging the young piants, and in the second it 
must stir the soil without inverting it, for under dry condi- 
tions too much exposure to wind and sun may be harmful. 
Various types of inter-cultivating implement are in use in 
sugarcane farming, but they are not the type that will 
necessarily suit grain crops planted in rows. For cereal crops, 
the multi-tined cultivators of the 'Wah Wah' and 'Sha- 
bash ' types have given satisf actory results under such condi- 
tions as those prevailing in the Gangetic Plain. 

An implement in common use in Central and Western 
India is cailed a bukhar or blade-harrow and is used largely 
in preparing seed-beds for rain-sown crops. Where cotton 
is planted in rows, this implement has given good results 
in inter-line culture. An adaptation of this type of imple- 
ment might well be the most suitable implement to use for 
inter-culture, in any case for Central and Western India. 
The bukhar is a blade of hardened iron, made by the village 
blacksmith and fitted into a wooden frame. It is adjustable 
as to the depth to which it will stir the soil, more or less in 
the same way as is the desi plough. When the blade gets 
blunt, it is sharpened by the blacksmith.' Its greatest value 
lies in its simplicity, its cheapness, and its performance. It 
stirs 2, 3 or 4 inches of soil without exposing it and leaves 
the soil in a better state for nitrification and for resistance 
to the evaporation of valuable moisture. It should be pos- 
sible to devise a two-bladed bukhar worked by a pair of 
bullocks, whereby the spaces between rows of piants could 
be inter-cultivated. Allowing a 3- to 4-inch safety margin 
on either side of the piants, a 10- to 12-inch blade should 
be suitable for working between rows 18 inches apart. 

65 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

In Uttar Pradesh it is a common practice for growers of 
bajra, one of the lesser nullets, to run a desi plough through 
the held when the crop is about 6 inches high. This opera- 
tion is carried out only once during the entire growth period 
of the crop. Many piants are, of course, uprooted in the 
process ; but since the operation is carried out during a 
break in the rains, the subsequent showers seem to revive 
and set up most of the fallen piants and, what is more 
significant, this operation secures the farmer a much better 
crop and a higher yield than he obtains with bajra not so 
treated. The scientific reason for this probably is that the 
stirring of the soil helps aeråtion and nitrification near the 
roots of the plant. The operation also earths up the roots, 
providing support to the piants and helping the tillering 
process. This is a good dry-farming practice ; but should the 
same crop be grown in lines and not one but several inter- 
line stirrings be given during breaks in the monsoon, the 
results are likely to be even better. While recent research 
work recommends mulching the surface soil, other expert 
opinion is in favour of cultivating rather than mulching 
between rows. The relative merits of either method depend 
on certain conditions, and the local expert must be left to 
choose his implement. 

Rotation of Crops 

It is Jurther concluded that suitable rotations should be 
followed and that leaving the land fallow for a year, so as to 
pass on the soil moisture and plant nutrients to succeeding 
crops, has ieneficial effects. Suitable rotations include those 
in which a leguminous crop is taken once in two years or 
so in order to ameliorate the soil with the nitrifying bacteria 
found in nodules on the bushy roots of the leguminous 
piants. And the bushy roots themselves add organic matter 
to the soil when the crop is lifted. 

It would be well here to consider briefly the root develop- 
ment of the different crops entering into the rotations 
selected for dry-farming conditions. Legumes like lobia and 
guar during the rains, and gram and peas after the rains, 
have roots with a bushy growth that leaves the soil richer 
in nitrogen. Grain and cereal crops like juar, bajra and 
maize sown during the rains, and wheat and barley sown 



DRY FARMING 

after the rains, have shallow roots that spread out near 
the surface and which are not bushy as are the roots of 
legumes. Therefore in a rotation it is well to have these two 
types alternately, so that the demands on plant nutrients 
and moisture in the soil are made at different depths. There 
is yet another class of root, the long tap root like that of 
the cotton plant and the long bushy ones of the arhar 
plant. These, if included in the rotation, help to open up 
the soil at greater depths, admitting moisture and air with 
beneficial results, When the crop is harvested the roots 
are left in the soil and subsoil and add some much needed 
humus to the usually meagre supplies of organic matter, 
which improves the capacity of the soil to hold moisture. 
Hence, in deciding what rotation should be adopted in any 
particular area, it would be well to take into account the 
root system of each crop selected, provided it suits the soil 
and climate of the area. In any national drive to increase 
food production in dry areas., suitable rotations will have 
to be brought to the notice of the farmers concerned by 
means of pamphlets, demonstrations and lectures. 

It has yet to be determined whether in dry farming, 
under a given set of conditions, it is better to rotate crops 
or to mix them. For instance, the cereal crop of juar can 
either be sown in rotation with a legume like arhar, the 
latter being sown as a pure crop in the July following the 
juar harvest, or the two crops can be sown together as a 
mixture. In practice, it is most common to find these two 
crops in mixture. Further, in some parts of South and Central 
India, a seed-drill said to have originated in the ceded dis- 
tricts of Madras is used, and a mixture of the seeds of two 
or three crops of different habits but of about the same 
growing season, is dropped through the tubes of .the drill. 
The result is a mixed crop sown in lines or rows and this 
is assumed to be better than a mixed crop in which the seed 
is scattered at random. In the Gangetic Plain, good results 
have been obtained by alternating rows of kharif crops, 
especially juar and arhar, and inter-cultivating between 
rows 30 inches apart. 

It would be useful if research workers on this subject were 
to tell us which of the following is the most satisfactory 
practice under a given set of conditions : (a) Mixed seeds 

67 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

oE a cereal plus a legume, sown in rows 12 inches apart for 
rabi and 30 inches apart for kharif crops and inter-line 
cultivated; (b) the same seeds sown as pure crops in rows 
over two separate seasons with a fallow during the winter 
season, or (c) the scattering of seeds of a cereal like bajra, 
followed by the use of the des-i plough in the standing crop 
when the piants are about 6 inches high, and this followed 
further by a legume sown in rows in the following season. 

Research takes a long time to establish any results which 
can be usefully applied in practice. While research work 
must therefore continue as a long-range plan, the knowledge 
already available on the subject of row planting, rotations 
and the like, must be demonstrated on cultivators' helds. 
For to increase the yield per acre from India's dry-farmed 
areas is a matter of the utmost urgency. 

Use of Btjlky Manures and Fertilizers 

Another observation made by research workers in dry 
farming is that the manures required vary according to the 
crops grown and the nature of the soil. It is a well known faet 
that bulky manures and chemical fertilizers require plenty 
of moisture to be of any use in farming. In faet, if under 
dry-farming conditions manures and fertilizers are used 
without adequate knowledge of their effects under these 
conditions, there is a danger that all or nearly all of the 
available soil moisture will be used up in absorbing the 
manures and the crops grown will die as a result. In countries 
where rainfall is spread more or less evenly over the growing 
season, heavy manuring is practised without any fear of 
the soil moisture being inadequate for the manures or 
fertilizers used. No irrigation is necessary in these countries. 
In India, the greatest care must be exercised in the appli- 
cation of manures to crops grown under rain-fed conditions ; 
for although the rainfall is often over 30 inches, the period 
during which this rain is received is 3 months or less, so that 
the remaining 9 months may be dry or nearly dry. It is 
true that from 1 to 2 inches of rain is received during Decem- 
ber to February in most parts of the dry-farming plains ; 
yet this small quantity of rain, coming as it does after a 
completely dry period, is not sufficient to warrant the 
indiscriminate use of manures and fertilizers. 

68 



DRY FARMING 

It would be well for the purposes of this discussion to 
divide the dry-farming plains of India into three categories : 
First, areas of heavy (over 35 indies) of monsoon rain — such 
as are found in Orissa, Bengal, Assam, Madras, Mysore and 
parts of Bombay ; second, tbe very dry belts where the total 
rainfall during the year is less than 15 inches, and lastly 
the areas of medium rainfall (15 to 35 inches) comprising 
the rest of the dry belts. Now it is well to remember that, 
throughout India, over 90 per cent of the entire annual 
rainfall is receivcd during the months of June to October. 
For the rest of the year there are long drought periods of 
from 3 to V months at a stretch, and the losses of soil mois- 
ture by evaporation are therefore very heavy. As bulky 
manures and fertilizers require ample soil moisture to be 
of use to crops, they must be applied mostly during the wet 
months of June and July, application in August being to 
risk the early cessation of the monsoon. 

The only exception is in the application of bulky manure to 
certain kharif crops, just before the monsoon and in the fertiliz- 
ing of the rice crop. In July and August when the water stands 
a foot deep in rice fieids and continuous rain or poor fertility 
causes the crop to turn yellow, a few pounds of ammonium 
sulphate sprinkled into the water turns the crop green and 
this has a remarkable effect on yield. In Madhya Pradesh, in 
the eastern districts of which the main crop is rice, a small 
dressing of 30-40 Ib. per acre of ammonium sulphate, makes 
all the difference between a poor and a good crop of rice, 
if it is applied during July and August when the piants 
often turn yellow. In the rice-growing tracts generally, 
heavy manuring with cattle dung is often given in antici- 
pation of a normal monsoon. Should the monsoon be weak 
or a failure, this manure is not lost entirely, for the residual 
effect of it is apparent in the subsequent crop. For the 
important ccreal crop of rice, therefore, heavy manuring 
with bulky manures and with fertilizers is a safe investment, 
likely to yield good dividends, all over the dry-farming 
tracts. For other rainy season cereal crops like juar and 
bajra, the application of bulky manurcs should be decided 
only after a careful study of the soil and moisture condi- 
tions. These crops are sometimes gxown in the wet belt of 
over 35 inches of rainfall ; and in some parts, especially the 

69 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

Gangetic Plain, where the soil is mostly a loam or light 
loam, jttar, bajra and maize are about the only cereals sown 
during the monsoon. Manuring for these crops is rare, but 
if the monsoon could be relied on, it would become a common 
practice. In general, the lise of moderate quantities of 
manure for these two important cereal crops is beneficial 
wherever line sowing and subsequent inter-line culture is 
practised. Under these tillage systems, the chances of the 
manure being incorporated into the soil are better than 
under the older practice of scattering the seed. Generally, 
however, the cultivator depends on the recuperative effect 
of legumes in the rotation, or on moisture, and does not apply 
any manure. To teach him the value of conserving moisture 
by embanking and inter-line culture, and the use of manures 
for cereals like bajra and juar, is therefore most important, 
and this can only be done by extensive demonstration on 
his own fieids. On sandy soils, where bajra is often grown, 
even if the rainfall is over 35 indies, the application of 
f ertilizer is generally ruled out on account of the very heavy 
leaching that takes place, but in piaces where the soil has 
improved, bulky manures and even fertilizers can still be 
applied in moderate quantities with good effect, especially 
where suitable rotations and the use of light dressings of 
well rotted manure have been practised for some time. 

Taking the very large tract with a rainfall of between 
15 and 35 inches, if the use of sub-soilers and embankments 
to capture the maximum precipitation for the soil and 
subsoil was to become an established practice, the use of 
bulky manures and commercial fertilizers could be advocated 
with impunity, especially if line sowing and inter-line 
culture were also to be commonly practised. Till then, 
however, the use of bulky manures and fertilizers will 
depend on local soil and moisture conditions and will have 
to be restricted. 

In brief, for monsoon-sown crops, the moisture available 
in the soil should determine the quantity of manure to apply 
and when to apply it ; and the practice of row or line sowing 
and inter-line culture helps the absorption of the mamirial 
ingredients into the surface soil. 

For very dry conditions (rainfall below 15 inches), it is 
safest to rely on suitable rotations and mixtures rather than 

70 



DRY FARMING 

use manure and fertilizers. In general, leaving the land in 
bare fallow without a mulch on the surface, is uneconomic, 
unsound, and should be avoided ; this applies to all rain-fed 
areas. Wherever moisture conditions permit, however, a 
light dressing of bulky but finely divided manure can be 
beneficial, if properly incorporated into the soil. 

Emeritus Professor Mackie of the University of Berkeley, 
California, has for some years been successfully demons- 
trating the use of manures and fertilizer under semi-desert 
conditions where the rainfall is under 10 inches per annum. 
His technique consists in the application of small quantities 
of manure and fertilizer to drought-resistant grasses and 
legumes on poor pastures, until the combined effect of better 
vegetative growth and suitable doses of fertilizer, given at 
the right moment, improve the water-holding capacity of 
the soil. This technique is well worth experimenting with 
under semi-desert conditions in India. 

Rabi Crops 

So much for monsoon-sown or kharif crops. Let us now 
consider for a moment the possibility of utilizing soil 
moisture for winter or rabi crops, under dry-farming condi- 
tions. In the areas of fairly heavy rainfall (35 inches and 
over), where the soil has a clayey texture, the main crop 
is usually rice. But over a fairly large part of these areas 
the soil is unsuitable for rice and therefore a crop of wheat, 
barley, gram or oilseeds, or a mixture of some or all of these 
is taken during the winter or rabi season. The farmer usually 
keeps his fieids cultivated during the monsoon, and soon 
after, from the end of September to early November, hc 
sows his rabi crop. There are several ways in which he could 
increase his yield and improve his soil. In the first place, 
it is generally possible to take a catch crop with or without 
manuring between the end of June and the end of September, 
i.e. before the main rabi crop is sown. This catch crop should 
be a legume ; sann hemp for green manure or guar or lobia 
for fodder. The roots, stems and leaves of the sann hemp 
crop ploughed in early in August rot and provide the soil 
with much needed organic manurial strength. If guar 
or lobia is taken for fodder, the roots of these crops also, if 
left in the soil, improve it ; and with the help of the nitrogen 

71 



BETWEEN VS AND HUNGER 

provided by the bacteria from the nodules of these roots, 
the subsequent rabi crop will show a defmite increase in 
yield. Secondly, the presence of a leguminous crop on the 
held during the monsoon helps to prevent soil erosion. 
Thirdly, the cultivation given to the fieids prior to the sowing 
of the legume, helps in getting the rain soaked into the soil. 
Even if the helds are embanked, as has becn snggested in the 
discussion on conservation of vvater, a quick growing legume 
can still be raised for fodder on the lighter textured soils 
if the captured water from the embanked helds is run oh 
at the right time. In soils of heavier texture, rice would be 
grown during the monsoon; and rice grows in standing 
water. 

The cultivator usually applies farmyard manure to the 
helds being prepared for a rabi crop, well before the commen- 
cement of the rains and as early as May. This is a wasteful 
practice because the manure heaps are thereby exposed to 
hot winds and much of their value is lost. The best time to 
apply manure to kharifcmpsis alittle before the first shower 
of rain. 

The seed of the rabi crop is generally scattered or sown 
behind the plough. The use of a seed-drill in order to make 
inter-line culture possible would greatly improve yields ; for, 
apart from nitrihcation being stimulated, weeds are killed 
and moisture is conserved by this method ; and moisture is a 
limiting factor. Should there be no winter rain or very little, 
every bit of moisture that can be saved from evaporation 
helps to save the crop between nowering and ripening, from 
the devastating effect of the warm and dry winds. 

For areas of moderate rainfall (between 15 and 35 inches), 
the sowing of a leguminous catch crop between June and 
October is often impracticable if a subsequent rabi crop is 
to be taken the same season. In such areas, it is generally 
best to embank the helds and get as much of the monsoon 
precipitation as is possible into the soil and subsoil, so that 
there may be adequate moisture for the rabi crop to follow. 

In areas where the rainfall is below 15 inches, if the sugges- 
tions made to capture for the soil and subsoil the maximum 
amount of monsoon precipitation are followed, higher yields 
should result, Suitable rotations and mixtures, line sowing 
and inter-line culture are likely to give satisfactory results. 

72 



DRY FARMING 

Manuring under such conditions must, howcver, be practised 
with the greatesl caution and, if moisture and soil condi- 
tions permit, a light dressing of well rotted and finely 
divided compost applicd either just before or just after the 
first shower of rain, would be bencficial. 

The Seed Rate 

Finally, research workers on dry farming have observed 
that reducing the seed rate leads to increased croft ■producticm 
and saving in seed. The reason for this is that, with fewer 
piants per square foot, the demands on the limited amount 
of soil moisture and fertility available under dry-farming 
conditions is less, and healthier piants are produced. With a 
crowded plant population there is not enough moisture or 
plant food to enable the majority of them to reach complete 
maturity. The seed shrivels and loses weight. With line 
sowing and inter-line culture, the chances of complete 
maturity are, of course, better ; but even then the fewer 
the piants the better chance the majority of them have in 
producing fully developed and plump seed. 

With cereal crops, tillering, or the throwing out of many 
sprouts from the same root, is an important factor contri- 
buting to higher yields. Tillering is discouraged by over- 
crowding and by the absence of inter-line cultivation. If 
ample space is available to the plant, and the soil around 
it is given light surface cultivation, the results in the presence 
of adequate moisture and plant food are most satisfactory, 
and considerably higher yields may be expected than from 
seed scattered haphazardly over the held. 

Dr S. B. Singh has experimented in dibbling wheat seed 
by hånd in Uttar Pradesh, and by this method the seed rate 
has been reduced from an average of 90 pounds per acre to 
12 pounds per acre. Saving 78 pounds of seed per acre more 
than pays for the extra cost of dibbling by hånd, and with 
line sowing and inter-line culture, tillering is stimulated to 
such an extent that normal yields are secured. If a suitable 
seed-drill was to be used, it would undoubtedly be an 
improvement on dibbling by hånd, for during the sowing 
season there is a time limit within which the sowing must be 
tinished. With hånd dibbling, sowing over a large area cannot 
be completed in time, so this advantageous practice is 

73 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

limited in its application. The need for evolving a suitable 
seed-drill for cereal crops is again emphasized. 

ROADSIDE DRAINS 

From what has so far been said, it will be clear that there 
is considerable scope for further work on dry-farming 
problems ; il will be equally clear that the knowledge we 
already possess should, if applied over the dry-farming 
tracts of India, greatly increase the production of our cereal 
food crops. 

There is one more suggestion. Bishan Man Singh of 
Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh, has shown that considerable 
advantage can be gained by utilizing waste rainwater from 
roadside drains during the early part of the monsoon. His 
method is very simple. His own fieids are embanked, and 
the water he captures is charged with the droppings of 
animals and with other organic matter. Other farmers who 
have their helds by the side of main highways would do 
well to emulate his example because not only will their 
helds, if previously embanked, be enriched by the organic 
matter which the water brings, but the soil moisture will 
be greatly increased. The embankments can always be cut 
to let out surplus water after the solids carried by the water 
have settled down. 

Wind-breaks 

So far in this discussion, the emphasis has been on direct 
methods of improving production in dry farming. There 
is also the indirect approach. For instance, the planting 
of trees as wind-breaks goes a long way towards reducing 
evaporation in helds that are to the leeward. Breaking the 
force of the wind in hot and dry weather also saves particles 
of surface soil being blown about. Such trees as the babool, 
an acacia, and the mesquite are resistant to drought and the 
effect of their shade on growing crops is negligible : they are 
therefore especially useful in preventing soil erosion and 
evaporation. It is estimated that India is short of 20,000 
million trees. If every cultivator were to plant 20 trees each 
year, half this number would be reached in about ten years, 
and the other half could be planted by the Forest and other 
departments of the Government. (Another job for a Land 

74 



DRY FARMING 

Army.) Incidentally, trees bring rainfall and around trees 
appear grazing grasses where nothing grew before. Nurseries 
for the young trees will be needed in every village, and the 
sylvicultural experts of each state could soon determine 
what trees will grow best and where. The co-operation of 
villagers through their panchayats will save the State heavy 
expenditure. 

MULCHING 

In the United States stubble mulching has been practised 
with remarkable success in areas of low rainfall, and consists 
of sub-surface cultivation, leaving the stubble on the 
surface. It has been found by experiment that raindrops on 
bare soil destroy the surface structure and leave a thin 
compacted layer of soil through which water does not pass 
readily but runs off. Various sub-surface tillers, drawn by 
tractors, leave the dead residue of the previous crop on 
top of the soil, while under the surface the soil is loosened. 
The rain thus gets absorbed fairly completely, and the 
dangers of evaporation and run-off are minimized. 

In India the implement rather like a blade harrow, 
already referred to as the bukhar, is the nearest equivalent 
of modem sub-surface tillers. But research has yet to 
discover what form of mulching, af ter harvest, is the best 
under Indian conditions, and what implements should be 
used. Rainwater enters soil through the spaces between the 
soil granules, and so long as these pores remain open, it 
will soak into the soil. Rain falling on bare soil tends to 
clog up the surface, but the presence of stubble in or on the 
surface soil prevents this and helps the water to be absorbed 
in the soil and subsoil. This is an argument against the bare 
fallows so commonly practised in India either because the 
cultivator knows no better or his bullocks are engaged in 
threshing after harvest and cannot be spared. The methods 
suggested elsewhere in this discussion for releasing bullock- 
power for this all-important work are therefore worthy of 
urgent attention. 

The Chinese realized the value of mulching long ago, and 
have used a pebble mulch on their dry lands for many 
years. These pebbles allow the water to pass down through 
the mulch and trickle into the soil. They also reduce 

75 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

evaporation by shading the soil, and restrict the amovmt 
of soil carried away by water or wind erosion. In Hawaii 
paper mulches have been used to reduce erosion, run-off and 
evaporation : There is, therefore, much to be learnt from the 
experiencc of other countries. We have to make the best use 
of whatever knowledge is already available by applying 
it in practice over as wide an area as possible in order that 
that our dry-farming lands may begin as soon as possible to 
provide us with higher yields of cereal and other crops. 




CHAPTER EIGHT 

HOW TO COJVSERVE OUR WATER 
RESOURCES 

|HE annual rainfall of India varies from a mere 
6 indies in some of the driest tracts to 600 inches in 
.the Cherapunji hills of Assam. Even in the great 
Gangetic Plain, stretching from East Punjab to Bengal, the 
variation is considerable. The dry-farming areas of the 
East Punjab depend on a scanty 10 to 15 inches of rain, while 
the wet rice tracts of East Bihar, Orissa and Bengal mostly 
get over 40 inches in the year. The hills on the eastern borders 
of this plain get 50 to 100 inches annually. On the South and 
to the West of the peninsula, precipitation is heavy on and 
near the ghats (or hills) , but is mostly inadequate elsewhere. 
This inadequacy becomes more pronounced on the great 
stretches of desert and semi-desert in Rajasthan and other 
states to the West of the Gangetic Plain. 

Were this rain to be spread evenly over each month of 
the year, there would be little or no need for irrigation, 
except in the driest tracts. But to our misfortune, it comes 
down heaviry during the three monsoon months of July, 
August and September and then, for several months on 
end, there is not a drop of rain. Conserving our water 
resources in the most scientific manner becomes, therefore, 
a matter of paramount necessity. The effect of gentle rain 
spread fairly evenly over the twelve months of each year 
is best seen in England and Ireland, where irrigation is not 
needed and where the countryside has an ever-green 
appearance. And yet the annual rainfall of Kent in England 
is only about 28 inches, a good deal less than the average 
for the fertile alluvial plains of Bihar which present a 
parched appearance during the dry months of January to 
June. 

It has been estimated that the total quantity of water 
received by India from the clouds annually averages about 
2700 million acre feet. This vast volume of water would 

77 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

normally be sufficient to meet all the needs of any country 
the size of India. But such are the peculiar problems of this 
sub-continent and such is the character of the rainfall, that 
so far we have been able to utilize for irrigation through 
canals, tube wells, masonry wells, streams, tanks and 
bandhs only some 86 million acre feet annually. Even if, 
according to one estimate, all our proposed schemes, major 
and minor, of irrigation materialized, a further 100 million 
acre feet only could be utilized. There is therefore consi- 
derable scope for conserving all available precipitation from 
the clouds for utilization in the raising of our crops, especially 
of foodgrains. 

We have seen, in earlier discussions, how freely erosion 
takes place when water flows, uncontrolledly, down sloping 
terrain. We have observed how the simple expedient of 
making low earth barriers to hold both soil and water, 
saves this land from sheet erosion. Daulbandhi, as it is called 
in North-west India, has proved to be an inexpensive 
method of holding up both soil and water during the wet 
months, and several other methods of checking soil erosion 
have been described in chapter three. It so happens that these 
measures are identical with those needed to conserve rain- 
water. Take, for instance, the ingenious method employed 
in the U.S.A. of running rainwater over a series of bench 
terraces. The absorption is so complete, that by the time the 
storm-water reaches the lowest terrace, it is practically all 
used up. The only method of conserving water which is not 
also a method of preventing soil erosion is the construction 
of dams in order to create lakes from which the water is led 
through canals for many miles to irrigate farm crops. But 
even this method is also a certain check to erosion, as the 
movement of water is slowed up by the bandh or dam. Some 
water, too, is saved for underground supplies, as it soaks 
through the bed of the lake and along the route it takes in 
order to reach the helds to be irrigated. And again, irrigation 
helps to raise the level of the subsoil water table. 

The rain being received almost entirely during 3 or i 
months and the rest of the year being dry, two very definite 
problems are created. In the first place an enormous amount 
of water hils our rivers and is lost in the sea ; and secondly , 
very little of the precipitation actually finds its way into 

78 



CONSERVATION OF WATER RESOURCES 

subterranean stores. One estimate 1 piaces the loss of rain- 
water at about half the total precipitation received during 
the year, only a fraction, about 3 per cent, being used at 
present for artificially irrigating crops. If it were physically 
possible to store up and use even a third of the water that 
gets away to the sea, it would provide enough irrigation to 
cover the entire cultivated area of India. To harness and 
utilize for artificial irrigation so large a volume of water is, 
however, physically impossible, even if the money to carry 
out so fantastic a scheme were forthcoming. Our experts on 
irrigation consider that the greatest area than can be arti- 
ficially irrigated is 75 million acres as against 48 million acres 
irrigated today. But even this would take a very long time to 
achieve and would cost a lot more than the country can at 
present afford. 

Let us therefore consider what alternative approach to 
the problem might possibly yield early dividends, bearing 
in mind the country's limited fmancial resources. That 
there is such an approach to the problem will possibly 
become clear to the reader of what follows. We must confine 
our attention to the dry tracts where the subsoil water 
level, as indicated by masonry wells, is over 30 feet below 
the surface of the earth in the dry period preceding the 
rainy season. We will not consider other tracts for the 
present, for reasons which will be evident as we proceed. 

The Earth's Crust 

The crust of the Earth is porous over millions of square 
miles. Consider the first 500 feet of this crust over the area 
stretching from the Himalayan mountains in the north to 
the peninsular plains of the northern part of the Indian sub- 
continent. In piaces the surface is rocky and non-absorbent ; 
in others there is only a few feet of absorbent soil and below 
that, clay or rock ; but over a large part of this vast area rain 
is absorbed to considerable depths without hindrance. It is 
this last type of surface with which we are chiefly concerned. 
It is here that vast underground stores of water collect, 
water which can be drawn to the surface for irrigation. The 

1 A paper by the Food Minister, read at an Extension Seminar, 
Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, on 27 September 
1951. 

79 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

first 500 fect only of this crust are considered, because to 
bore a hole and send down tubes and strainers below that 
depth usually becomes uneconomical. The usual depths to 
which tubc-well borings are taken are from 150 to 400 feet. 

Consider for a moment what a cross-section of this 500- 
foot layer of the Earth's crust consists of . First of all, there 
is the soil. Then there are some 20, 50 or 100 feet of a 
mixture of sand, cla.y, gravel and broken rock, and through 
this mixture water can find its way although, at varying 
depths, layers of impervious clay intercept its downward 
movement. This clay is mct at. depths of 20 to 50 feet in the 
Gangetic alluvium and at greater depths in the sandy 
plains of Rajasthan. In tracts such as those of Bundhelkhand 
and Central India, solid rock intercepts this downward 
movement of water and those who make wells for irrigation 
have to blast it. The first 20, 50 or 100 feet resting on clay 
become charged witfi rain water at the lower depths. It is 
on this clay that makers of masonry wells rest the foun- 
dations of their wells, and the water is drawn up by various 
water-lifting devices. 

Below the first clay layer there are, however, other such 
clay layers alternating bctween more layers of coarse or 
fine sand, gravel and broken rock. This is of importance to 
farming because all the way down to a depth of 400 feet or 
more there are f ound strata of coarse sand or gravel in which 
has accumulated water, supported in turn by the clay 
underneath. Some of this water has travelled sideways 
hundred of miles underground and some has come from the 
surface not so far away and has found its way to greater 
depths through breaks in the various impervious layers. 
The faet that rainfall is heavier on our hills than in the 
plains, combined with the greater height at which the water 
begins its long underground journey, is important. On this 
depends the success of tube wells ; for water must find its 
level. The water having entered the earth higher up, the 
tube sent down through the clayey layers soon gets filled 
with it, under pressure. The pressure is usually enough to 
bring the water up to within a convenient distance of the 
surface. Occasionally, it is enough to create artesian supplies. 

It is thus clear that over the dry tracts of India, where the 
water-table stands some 30 feet or more below the surface 

80 



'•■!$-s*T' : M : £*k 




Lifting water from a tank for irrigation, by the uacient ben or 
swing baslset ; a strenuous method, very trying in hot weather. 



A rnodern Persian Wheel of improved design, Frictional losses are reduced by the 

proximity of the driving gear to the bucket wheel, The jnachme is a compact unit 

fixed 011 iron girders and has otlier commendable points. 






HK ' 



3&W 



C0NSERVAT10N OF WATER RESOURCES 

and where irrigation water is very definitely in short supply, 
every possible raeans of conserving rainwater must be 
adopted. The water-table, which is the level at which perco- 
lation water rests on the first impervious layer of clay in 
the upper crust, has to be raised. For only in this way is 
it possible to extend irrigation from masonry wells. This is 
the first problem and the solution of it is as simple and 
inexpensive as that already suggested for the prevention 
of soil erosion : it is, to conserve water. 

Daulbandhi AGAIN 

We have seen how the simple expedient of daulbandhi 
helps to prevent sheet erosion. This consists of a low barrier 
of beaten earth, about 18 inches high and as wide at the 
base, put up on at least three sides of each field. The fourth 
side need not be closed, although it often is. This in itself 
helps to hold up rainwater and let it soak in slowly ; but to 
get better results these barriers should be a little taller, say 
24 inches high and as wide at the base. Much will depend on 
whether the soil is sandy or clayey in texture, and the height 
of the barrier is best determined on the spot. 

It is dimcult to say how much rainwater will actually 
soak into the soil and find its way to the first clay bed, and 
how much will be lost by evaporation. All that can be said 
is that by this simple method considerably more water will 
find its way into the bowels of the upper crust than would 
otherwise bc the case. Evaporation is a more or less constant 
factor, whether the water stands a foot deep or a fraction 
of an inch on the surface of the field. What we are more 
concerned with is pcrcolation, and we are certain that it is 
increased appreciably by capturing rainwater in the manner 
suggested. The labour needed to put up these earth barriers 
is availablc and can be utilized in the slack season pre- 
ceding the monsoon. The Indian farmer is accustomed to 
digging by hånd: He will have to be shown the value of 
embanking his fieids by demonstration. 

Increasing the subsoil moisture in this manner has more 
than one beneficial efiect. In the first place, such post- 
monsoon crops as wheat, barley and gram, grown without 
irrigation, will show better germination and healthier 
growth. The preparation of the seed-bed by cultivation 

81 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

after the monsoon, will result in grcaler nitrification and 
other bacterial activity by virtue of the prcsence of adequate 
moisture. Early sowings, whereby ultimate yields are 
improved, will then be possible. The standing water, 
incidentally, will tend to eliminate the rapid growth of weeds 
and tilis will result in a better crop frccd from competition 
for moisture and plant food. 

In areas of comparatively low rainfall, embanking helds 
and letting canal watcr stand in them during August and 
September has been proved, by C. H. Parr's cxpcrimcnts, to 
increase the yields of winter cereal crops very considerably. 
At this time of the year rivers are full, especially in North- 
west India, and canals can providc all the water needed for 
the flooding of fieids intended for winter cereals. This has 
no ill effects on the snbsoil water-table ; for in areas o C low 
rainfall, 15 to 25 inches, the water-table is also low. Raising 
it is defmitely beneficial, and there is no danger of its coming 
too far up by this one flooding. 

At iirst, while the practice is still new to many villagos, 
embanking will present occasional problems. For instanee, 
after a night of heavy rain thcrc may be breaches to repair, 
and for this the owners of the helds will have to be watchful, 
as a small breach repaired in time will save a lot of labour 
later. The embanked held will not be available for the 
sowing of any monsoon crop other than paddy: On helds 
where fodder or a legume is grown, the owncr will, therefore, 
have to create a breach in the barrier to allow the surplus 
water to run out of the held. Sometimes it may bc found 
that a clayey subsoil prcvcnts the rainwater being absorbed 
to any great depth. Generally, howcver, it will bc found that 
bunding or embanking helps absorption to takc placc to 
considerable depths, with evident value to the farmer, and 
this has already been realizcd in the Haveli tract of North 
Madhya Pradesh and in piaces on the black cotton soils of 
Central India and the Deccan. What is wanted is that the 
practice should be adopted wherever soil, subsoil and 
moisture conditions make it desirable. 

Afforestation and Terracing 

So far we have discussed a possible way of increasing 
subsoil water supplies to the first clayey underground 

82 



CONSERVATION OF WATER RESOURCES 

barrier — some 40 feot to 100 leet or so below the surface. 
What of the wator-bcaring strata below spring-water level ? 
How are the underground stores of water which feed our 
tube wclls at cleplhs ranging from 150 to 500 feet to be 
augmented? The answer to this will perhaps have occurred 
to the rcadev already. Starting with our hilly areas, where 
the rainfall is as a rule the heavicst, a gooel deal of land has 
in the pust been cleared of trees for farm crops. Thcse lands 
are exposcd to erosion by storm-water, and both soil and 
water will be wasted unless terraces and dams are so 
constructed that only the minimum of wasLage takes place. 
Scientinc bench terracing will achieve this; and if in addi- 
tion trees are planted on all wastc land not so terraced, 
losses will be, kept down permanently. Grasses planted on the 
terrace walls and trecs or shrubs on held borders will help 
lo hold both soil and water. 

Effective consci vation of soil and water shoukl form a 
compulsoiy part of the training of all Forest, Agricultural 
and Revenue officials of the State. All our hill men must be 
told about soil and water conservation tmtil their entire 
outlook lo the problem is transformed from one of careless 
indifference to active co-operation with the State in all the 
measures it adopts. Thcn only will we have begun to find 
the answer, not only to short supplies of underground water, 
but to the problem of silt in our river beds, of Hoods and of 
hillside erosion. 

Broad-based terraces, bunding, prevention of over-grazing, 
afforestation of wastc land and other measures discussed in 
chapters three and six, will all help to conserve rainfall, now 
and in the future. The immecliate eftoct, visible on the surface, 
will be higher yields and thcse will be due to the increase in 
the amount of moisture held by soil and subsoil. C. H. Parr's 
experiments have proved conclusivcly that embanking helds 
in dry areas and running river water into them during the 
latter part of the monsoon, increases the yield of wheat and 
other crops. This water wonld otherwise have been wasted, 
since during August and September canals are usually emptied 
for de-silting and repairs. Thcre is however time to do this 
after water has been run into the embanked helds. 

As for lakes and tanks, there will always be enough 
run-oli water during the monsoon to replenish them, for 

83 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

il is not possible to conscrve more than a Iraction of thc vast 
volume of water received from the clouds. Conservation 
practices will help to replenish those undex-ground springs 
which feed so many of our lakcs and streams which are 
used for irrigation of farm land. Trecs and shrubs will 
flourish and grasses will spring up in piaces wlierc culti- 
vation is not feasible and will provide mucli nccded grazing. 

Perennial or seasonal irrigation by our grcat canal systems 
will not be discussed liere, for they are already in expert 
hauds and many ways of making a little water go a long way 
are already being tried. What are not in expert bands, and 
conscquently need examination, are the ways in wliich the 
improved underground water supplies can bc put to the 
best use ; for one faet must be fully appreciated and thai. is 
ihat a regular supply of water on cultivated fiekis euables 
the farmer to use more manure than he does at present ; the 
two factors combined having the effect of inercasing crop 
3delds — always the desidcratum. 

Having, therefore, considered ways of conserving water for 
soil, subsoil and nature's underground reservoirs, the next 
step is to examine the means vvhercby the additional supplies 
can be utilized for irrigation. 

Simple Water-lifting Devices 

The most primitive and yet the most commonly used 
water-lifting device, the heri or swing basket, is operated 
by four men working in relays of two, and can lift water a 
maximum hcight of about i\ fcet, usually from tanks. Less 
common, but still fairly frequent, is the use of two or more 
swing baskets which, working as a team, will lift waler 
another 6 or 7 feet, i.e. to 10| or 11 J feet in all. Both pro- 
cesses are expensive in labour and meagre in result. Thc 
amount of water lifted varies with the height of the held 
above the tank surface, but is seldom more than IC 00 
gallons per hour. The dhekul or earlhen pot, attached by a 
rope to the end of a pole, weighted at the opposite end and 
operated by a single person, is another common device. This 
is used to lift water from streams and other sources to a 
height of some 7 to 12 feet. Here again the quantity lifted is 
small, seldom exceeding 800 gallons per hour. Then there is 
the inhoth or charas, a large leather bag drawn up by bullocks 

84 



CONSERVATION OF WATER RESOURCES 

moving down an incline, the rope moving over a wooden 
pulley 011 wooden supports. This is used mostly with masonry 
wells and is a common sight over most of the dry plains. 
It is of ten used with wells 70 or more leet from the surface ; 
the discharge varying with the height of lift. It is not an 
emcient device, although it will draw water from deep and 
narrow wells wheie no other chcaply constructed water-lift 
will. The lndian cultivator today uses these four ancient 
water-lifting devices more commonly than any other, because 
they aie cheap and wood is not in limited supply as arc iron 
and steel. The use of modern water-lifting devices is, how- 
ever, gradually displacing the old wasteful methods. 

The Persian Wheel 

A decided improvemenl on these ancient water-lifts is the 
Persian Wheel of up-to-date design. These machines, 
especially some of the improved patterns, can be made to 
snit wells of any diameter. One recent design, at least, can 
be opcrated either by electricity or by an oil-engine with the 
help of a reducing gear. The parts of this model can be 
stanclardizcd and produced on a mass scale, bringing the 
cost of production down very considerably. Even if worked 
by bullocks, an improved Persian Wheel will give twice to 
three times the discharge of a chavas. The most enterprisfng 
farmers of India arc today using Persian Wheels more than 
any other modern device, because these machines will 
usually lift as much water as is required, and they are less 
expensivc than pumping piants worked by electricity or oil- 
engines. Unfortunately there are far too many Persian 
Wheels in the market cheaply made from inferior material 
and giving only inefficient service. To see that only the most 
efncient and well made Persian Wheel is put on the market 
shoukl be the duty of the State, and where individuals 
cannot afford these machines, loans should be forthcoming 
in kind rather than in cash. Where co-operative unions of 
growers exist, they should be able to acquire for co-operative 
use, several of the best machines. The State must see to it 
that the neecssary iron and steel is made available to 
approved manufacturers and that adequate servicing and 
spare parts are forthcoming. Let the State hold official 
tests to determine which type of Persian Wheel is the best, 

85 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

and thereafler see that its makers receive all necessary aid, 
so that as many of these superior machines as possible are 
placed within the easy reach of even the most remotely 
placed grower. The relative advantage of the mechanically 
driven centrifugal pump over the swing basket for a 7~foot 
lift, is so great that it cannot be ignored, especially as the 
yield of the irrigated cereal crop is likely to increase from 
6 to 10 times with the use of the former. But while the 
pumping set, whether diiven by electricity or by oil-engine, 
is usually too expensive tor the farmer of 1 acres or so, the 
Persian Wheel costing Rs 450 is well within his means. 

It is up to the State to initiate schemes for utilizing to the 
full the underground water supplies of the country, and 
for irrigating from streams, tanks and lakes : It must then 
follow them up by arranging that the farmers concerned 
get adequate supplies of the most suitable water-lifts at a 
reasonable cost. The periodic servicing of these machines and 
the maintained supply of spare parts are other facilities which 
will have to be assured. With so many experienced migrant 
artisans from the West Punjab, this should not present any 
serious difnculty, but the state government concerned must, 
with the help of these artisans, organize the necessary servic- 
ing agencies. Then only will any large-scale use of improved 
Persian Wheels, pumping sets and the like, yield the 
dividends that are to be expected from really efheient water- 
lifting appliances, i.e. increased acreage under irrigation, 
higher yields for the grower and more food for the nation. 

The Financial Aspect 

There is, however, one aspect of planning minor irrigation 
which must be tackled wisely if India's food production is 
to be raised to the desired level cconomically. In the Five 
Year Plan, minor irrigation schemes are expected to yield 
2 million tons of additional food at a cost of Rs 119 • 45 crores 
(about £85 million). The cost of desilting tanks and repairing 
water channels, bandhs, wells and pumping installations 
are included in this sum. Cleaning tanks is a profitable 
occupation because (a) more water is made available for 
irrigation and (b) the silt removed has a benehcial effect on 
cultivated fieids. Repairing water channels is profitable 
because the grower is able to secure more water for his 

86 



CONSERVATION OF WATER RESOURCES 

fieids. Removing the silt has obvious advantagcs. The grower, 
in faet, benefits all round ; why then should the scheme be 
charged up to the taxpayer? The cost per ton of additional 
food produced, under the tanks and channels scheme, 
works out at about Rs 7 per maund or Rs 9 per hundred- 
weight. This is Mgh; but when it is considered that the 
value of the extra food produced more than covers the 
expenses of desilting and repairs, why should the taxpayer 
rather than the grower, have to bear the burden? The 
grower is the first to benefit from the scheme ; there is little 
or no fmancial outlay involved, and hc should not grudge the 
labour. If , indeed, the State had to employ labom and pay for 
it the cost would run into millions, and the burden of taxa- 
tion is high cnough already : Why add to it when those who 
benefit can do the work? If the states concerned could find 
ways of achieving the desired results in schemes of this 
nature by the use of wise legislaiion and with the minimum 
of fmancial aid, it would be conducive to securing a larger 
measure of success than that the Five Year Plan visualizes, 
and at smaller cost. For cxample, the construction of bandhis, 
embankments with brick and cement outlets, large or small, 
which hold enough water to make them useful for irrigation, 
needs fmancial aid. These minor works do, however, benefit 
a number of growers, and it should be possible to get the 
earthwork involved done by them. 

Be all this as it may, the main object is to make the 
maximum use of rain for irrigation purposes, whether from 
bandhis, tanks or wells, and it is for the Central Government 
to take the initiative in completing, first without and then, 
if necessary, with the use of legislative or executive powers, 
the maximum number of effective minor irrigation schemes, 
through the various states, at the minimum expense. At 
the moment, the states submitting such schemes have to 
undertalte to bear half the cost, the oiher half being borne 
by the Centre. Part of the state cost is advanced as a loan 
by the Centre. Considering the advantages accruing to the 
growers who sharc the benefits from these schemes, it seems 
illogical that the Centre should be called upon to bear so 
much of the cost and that anything more than a loan should 
be necessary to induce states to come forward with these 
schemes, The possibility that private enterprise may be 

87 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

interested in the matter has not perhaps been fully explored. 
A Land Development Corporation, whose function is 
explained in later pages, might also be able to take up such 
schemes over a part of the country. 

Water-logging and Excessive Moisture 

accumulation 

We have so far discussed water conservation in dry 
tracts. It would be well to consider also for a moment the 
problem of excessive water, which has become an alarming 
one in parts of the country. The measures necessary to deal 
with it are the very opposite of those required to conserve 
rainwater for drought-affected areas. Therc are two main 
features: nrstly, water-logging due to many decades of 
canal irritation ; and secondly, excessive accumulations of 
water due to faulty drainage. 

Constant irrigation in vast areas where the underground 
water-table was already fairly high, has brought the water 
level so near the surface, that the evils of soil acidity, 
efflorescence of alkaline and saline salts, and marshy condi- 
tions have actually put out of cultivation much land which 
was originally productive. Some of these problems have 
already been discussed in an earlier chapter. One of the 
remedies is to pump out the subsoil water, throwing it back 
into the canal which will take it away to distant areas, not 
so affected. Another step, which a courageous adminis- 
tration might take with advantage, is to close down the 
canals in these areas for several years, encouraging at the 
same time the construction of a vast network of wells fltted 
with water-lifting devices. The subsoil water lifted from the 
wells would be used for irrigation ; but so much more would 
be lost by evaporation than used by the crops that the 
ultimate effect would be the much desired one of lowering 
the water-table. Hydro-electric power is extending over 
many parts of the country: would it not be possible to 
utilize some of it in pumping up water from the network 
of wells for this purpose ? The matter is one for consideration. 
By the use of one or other of these remedial measures, it 
might be possible with the help of a Land Development 
Corporation to bring about healthy soil conditions over very 
large areas now affected by these harmful accumulations, 

88 



CONSERVATION OF WATER RESOURCES 

The other type of harmful water accumulation — both are 
due to a short-sighted Public Works Organization — is 
one which was discussed by the United Provinces Agricul- 
tural Reorganization Committee in their Report of 1938-9. 
Failure to provide an adequate number of outlets for mon- 
soon storm-water along railway embankments and the 
main highways throughout the country, has been responsible 
for considerable harm to good agricultural land on eithcr side. 
It is not too latc to take this problem in hånd. Apart from 
making drainage outlets, much of this water could perhaps 
be led into natural depressions and utilized as nsherics or 
led away to irrigate the dry land bordering on these wet 
areas. Rooting out the evils which have resultcd from a 
faulty water economy is, anyway, the primary objective. 

The Fundamental Law 

To return to those vast dry areas which are in urgent necd 
of all possible measures to conserve rainwater., should there 
be several successively wcak monsoons, there will be a 
tendency for wells, tanks and streams to run dry or almost 
dry. The storehouse of underground water is rather like a 
huge bank. If the money taken out is not replaced by 
adequate deposits, then the bank, no matter how large, 
must ultimately fail. The same applies to the whole of 
Nature. Cut down forests without replacing them and the 
land which supports us will soon be laid waste by floods 
and erosion. Allow erosion to continue unchecked and not 
only soil, but surface moisture, will disappear. The ancient 
civilizations of Egypt, Carthage and Babylon were destroyed 
because of Man's wastefulncss in not replacing what he took 
out from the soil. Even if Man in the past did not under- 
stand the fundamental and natural law of supply and 
demand, there is no reason why he should remain ignorant 
in these modem times. If, because he once had an abundance 
of natural wealth in forests and agricultural land, he was 
careless and indifferent to wanton waste, there is no reason 
whatsoever why he should not endeavour to make up for 
the mistakes of his ancient forbears now. India's national 
economy just cannot bear the terrible burden of natural 
wealth being wasted any longer, be it soil, organic residue, 
or precious rain. 




CHAPTER NINE 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE 
FARMING 

|he term 'intensive farming' means, under Indian 
conditions, the almost continuous raising of crops 
.with the help of heavy manuring and irrigation. 
The land gets little rest ; and it follows that only where ample 
irrigation is available can intensive farming be practiced. 
Only the 48 million acres under irrigation and those areas 
intended for irrigation under the Five Year Plan and other 
projects, will therefore be considered here. 

Capabilities 

The per acre yield of crops raised under irrigation, heavy 
manuring and fertilizing is generally 50 to 100 per cent 
higher than that raised under dry farming, and since it is 
possible to get yields as much as 200 to 400 per cent higher 
by scientific methods, the subject becomes of special interest. 
The irrigated area under wheat alone is some 7-|- million 
acres and the present average yield under irrigated condi- 
tionsof about 1,2001b., is capable of being raised to an average 
of 2,400 Ib., and in exceptional cases to 4,000 Ib., per acre. 
Supposing that, over these 7A million acres, it was possible 
within 3 or 4 years to raise the present average yield by 
even 1,200 Ib. per acre, 4 million tons more wheat would be 
available. This would not only make the country self- 
snfhcient in wheat at the present rate of consumption, but 
would leave a surplus for cxport. The output of irrigated 
rice, at present covering an area of about 21 million acres, 
could in the same way be increased to meet the country's 
entire deficit, and leave a considerable export surplus. 
Let us examine, therefore, how these very desirable results 
might be achieved without straining too much the State's 
financial resources. 

A few years ago the Government of India instituted a 
system of awarding prizes for the highest yields secured 

90 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

for wheat, rice, potatoes and sugarcane. Here are some of 
the results achieved in 1952 : 



Higlicst per acre 
yields securcd 

(maunds) (Ib.) 


Place 


Average all-India 
yields 

(Ib.) 


Wheat 71-6 5,863 

(over 2 £ tons) 


Ludhiana 
(l'unjab) 


554 (includes both 
irrigated and 
dry wheat) 


ftice 130 11,152 

(aboi.it 5 tons) 


Coorg 


G28 (includes both 
irrigated and 
dry rice) 


Potatoes 733 -5 60,147 

(about 27 tons) 


"Rulund- 

shahr 

(U.P.) 


(5,184 (irrigated) 


Gram 46 3,772 

(about 1\ tons) 


.Ludluana 
(Punjab) 


421-5 (dry) 


Juar 84-5 0,925 
(sorgham) (about 3 tons) 


Kolhapur 
(Bombay) 


321 (dry) 


Bajra 29-25 2,398-5 
(a small (over a ton) 
millct) 


"West 

Khandesh 

(Bombay) 


220-5 (dry) 



These cxceedingly good results, securcd under the incen- 
tive of a prize of Rs 5,000 or, alternatively, a light tractor for 
each of the six winners, prove that (a) the Indian farmer is 
capable of producing yields comparable with the highest 
obtained anywhere in the world and that (b) Indian soils 
respond magnificently to heavy doses of fertilizer and bulky 
manure; for it was not by magic that these results wcre 
obtained, It is not intended to suggest however that it is 
possible to secure such yields in every area where these 
crops are grown : But the faet of having sccured them locally 
points to the possibility of doubling or trebling the present 
average by means of intensive farming, but without undue 
strain on the country's resources. 

91 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

The State's Responsibility 

There are, however, many factors which at present 
militate against securing this very desirable result. Not 
every farmer has either the ability or the means to invest 
enough capital and effort in his land to double his present 
yields. Secondly it is doubtful if enough bulky manure and 
commercial fertilizer will be available for some years for 
the entire area under food crops. There is no reason, however, 
why an effort should not be made to get as many farmers 
as are likely to provide the necessary interest and enter- 
prise, to emulate in some degree the example of those who 
have won prizes for the unusually high yields secured in 
recent competitions. The State will have to comb the 
intensive-farming tracts for such farmers, to make a list 
of them and to provide them not only with skilied advice, 
but with facilities such as transport and loans to enable 
them to secure the necessary manures and fertilizers. This 
should not present insuperable difhculties. 

In chapter three some indication has been given of how 
the supply of bulky manures can be increased. The Sindri 
factory is now turning out faiiiy large quantities of sulphate 
of ammonia and there are indications that India's produc- 
tion of bonemeal is rising. That takes care in part of two 
essential fertilizing elements, nitrogen and phosphates; 
there remains potash. Fortunately, potash is not generally 
deficient in Indian soils. A systematic drive to conserve 
all ashes of wood and leaves throughout the length and 
breadth of the country would make available quite a consi- 
derable amount of potash that is at present wasted. This 
could always be supplemented by imported potassic ferti- 
lizers, which together with some imported superphosphate 
would be the only charge on the State's limited dollar and 
sterling exchange resources. 

Stocks of these imported fertilizers as well as the indigen- 
ous sulphate of ammonia should be made available to the 
officials or experts entrusted with the task of guiding the 
farmers selected. There should be no shortage of any one 
of the three main chemical fertilizers, nitrogenous, phos- 
phatic and potassic, to farmers for whom irrigation facilities 
are available. Calculations made in advance of the optimum 
doses and of the best manuring period should determine the 

92 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

quota for each compact area selected for intensive farming 
in wheat and rice. There should be no delay in the arrival 
at the time specified by the expcrt in charge of each block, 
of each fertilizer required. Side by side with arrangements 
for securing chemical fertilizers, stocks of such bulky 
manures as cattlc-dung, village and town compost must be 
built up. The State must assist in transport by trucks or 
tractor-driven trailers, the charges for such transport being 
treated as loans to the farmers, recoverable at harvest. In 
some cases it may be necessary or desirable to treat the cost 
of the bulky manure and of the fertilizer as a loan. The high 
yields obtained as a result of the heavy doses of manure 
and commercial fertilizer should takc care of all the farmer's 
debts of this nature. 

The next care of the State should be to cnsure that there 
is no shortage of watcr for irrigation, either in volume or in 
the frequency of its application to the crops under trcat- 
ment. Timely irrigation is as important as the total volume 
of water applied, if not more so. A breakdown in the 
supply of electric power for tube-well irrigation ; a disruption 
of the normal roster arrangements for canal irrigation., or 
a defect in the engine or motor owned by the farmer, might 
upset the whole or part of the scheme, especially if it should 
come at a time when the need for irrigation is critical. 
The success of the plan will therefore depend as much on 
careful planning, foresight and wisdom on the part of the 
officials responsible as on the willing co-operation of all 
others concerned, official and non-ofhcial. 

CULTIVATION 

A word concerning cultivation. In intensive farming, 
when rest for the land is limited and often insufficient, it is 
most essential that, between the harvest of one crop and 
the sowing of the next, very thorough cultivation be given 
to the soil, incorporating heavy dressings of bulky manure 
and commercial fertilizer. The object of applying manure 
to the field is not achieved if it is put at a depth at which the 
main roots of the crop concerned do not normally feed. For 
cereal crops therefore, manure must be applied andincorporat- 
ed into the soil at a depth of 3 to 7 inches. Ploughing or discing 
must be 5 to 7 inches deep, depending on the class of soil, 

93 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

for the best results. Modem bullock-drawn ploughs can 
Teach this depth and should be followed by a cultivator 
stirring the soil 4 to 5 inches in depth. It is not necessary or 
desirable to bury bulky manure by using a soil-inverting 
plough. The value of the soil-inverting plough lies more in 
exposing the lower layers of the soil to sun and air than 
in turning down muck or manure on the surface in order to 
completely bury it. The Faulkener school in the United 
States has no use at all for soil-inverting ploughs, and 
there they advocate the use of disc cultivators, treaders 
and other such implements, to chop up and incorporate 
whatever green or dry organic matter there may be present, 
into the top 3 or 4 inches of surface soil. All scientific farmers 
are not, however, in agreemeiit with Faulkener in the 
theory he has propounded in his book Plowman's Folly 1 
although some are practising the methods of cultivation 
he recommends ; for in certain conditions of soil and climate 
the Faulkener system has its points. 

The Supply of Implements 

The farmers selected to implement the plan of doubling 
or trebling the cereal crop yield v/ill not only need guidance 
and advice on the quantity and quality of cultivation to 
give to their helds, but will also, in a large number of cases, 
require assistance in securing supplies of the right kind of 
implement for the job. Where tractors can be requisitioned 
by the State— and these are generally supplied with the 
necessary implements of tillage — they should be concen- 
trated in the areas or blocks selected for the plan. The 
fieids selected for intensive cereal production must be given 
priority in the use of these tractors, the cultivation charges 
being recovered from the farmer when his crop has been 
sold. 

Where tractors are not available, the State will have to 
stock suitable ploughs, disc harrows and other types of 
bullock-drawn implements of tillage in sufficient numbers 
and conveniently near the blocks selected. The farmer 
should be able to get these implements at reasonable prices 
and if possible under a system of co-operative purchase, 
and they must not be allowed to drain his limited financial 

1 Grosset & Dunlap, New York, 1943, 

94 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

resources. Paymcnt by instalment and in convenient stages 
should be arranged in such a way that he does not feel hc 
has to bear a heavy burden. Spare parts must be stocked in 
sufficient number, and for cach type of implemcnt efficient 
servicing should be provided, so that at no stage will the 
farmer be embarrassed by stoppages in preparing seed-beds, 
in subsequent inter-line cultivation or in harvesting and 
threshing his crop. 

In regard to harvesting, wherever tractor-power is availa- 
ble the operation should preferably be done mechanically. 
With heavy crops to harvcst, labour difficultics are bound 
to arise and the sooner the harvest is over the better; for 
in intensive farming the held should be cultivatcd lightly 
as soon as the crop is lifted in order to prevent unduc loss 
of moisturc and to secure the benencial effects of aeration 
without undue delay. Bullock-drawn harvesting machines 
have not yet become popular for a varicty of reasons, chief 
among them being the absence of adequate servicing facili- 
ties and spare parts. With the higher yields secured in 
the plan under discussion, these machines will be in a 
demand which it would be well to anticipate. 

Threshing a cereal crop like ricc does not present any 
great problem and will not, even if the present average yield 
per acre is doubled or trcbled; but the threshing of wheat 
is quite another matter and a sufficient number of threshing 
machines worked by tractor or othcr power (inclucling the 
bullock-drawn Olpad thresher) will have to be made 
available. Failiug adequate arrangements, the farmers in the 
blocks selccted will have considerable difficulty in completing 
the threshing of their wheat before the advent of the 
monsoon. Bullock-power by itself is not enough because 
treading the sheaves takes too long, especially if mechani- 
cally operated winnowcrs are not available in sufficient 
numbers for the final separation of grain from chaff before 
bagging. But augmented by the caterpillar type of tractor 
described in the next chapter, there is adequate bullock- 
power available in intensively farmed areas for the Olpad 
or other improved disc threshers to be used with advan- 
tage. The final work of threshing and winnowing heavy 
crops will nevertheless have to be very carefully thought 
out. 

96 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

Growing Paddy 

The Japanese method of growing paddy, whereby high 
yields are obtained, has bccn discussed so much of late that 
it is desirable here to describe it only briefly. There is very 
little to be learnt by the best Indian farmer from this or 
any other method. It is doubtful if, even in Japan, as much 
as 11,152 Ib. per acre of this crop has ever been harvested 
by this method ; yet this is the yield secured by our prize- 
winner in the Indian crop competitions of 1952. What the 
Japanese method has done is to systematize or reduce to a 
universally applicable mode of operation a procedure practised 
in varying degree by our best paddy growers for many years. 

In the nursery the seed-bed is raised some three inches 
above ground level and may be of any convenient length. 
A space, a foot wide, is left between beds. This permlts of 
weeding without inj uring the seedlings. For each acre of 
paddy 1 /20th of an acre is sown in the nursery for seedlings, 
and this requires about 20 Ib. of seed. For each 25 feet of 
bed, about a maund (3 baskets) of compost or cowdung is 
worked into the soil. To this is added a pound of equal parts 
of superphosphate and ammonium sulphate. The surface 
is smootlied and then covered with fine compost about l/8th 
of an inch thick. This again is covered with a thin layer of 
ashes. The bed is then ready for the seed which is planted at 
1 Ib. to about every 25-foot row. 

Before sowing, the seed of the variety most suited to 
local conditions is dropped into a bucket of salt water. The 
poor seed comes to the top and is skimmed off, saving only 
the heavier seed for sowing. The seed is sprinkled on the 
seed-beds a few days before the rains commence and the 
covering of fine earth l/8th of an inch thick spread over the 
seed. Should the rains be delayed, watering by cans is 
resorted to. Where canal or tank irrigation is available, 
sowings commence earlier. 

About a week after the seedlings have come up, all weeds 
are carefully removed by hånd. The seedlings are ready to 
transplant when the sixth leaf has formed. The plant is 
6 to 8 inches high at this time. It is better to be early than 
late with transplanting. 

The field into which the seedlings are transplanted is 
ploughed immediately after harvest; then, following the 

96 



ajt^ljiq 






■ '■'■■ '.■ iiik'P '''J'i ^S»yT ■ : 'i 



BSSI 



røse 



i«*g 












A tnechanically driven centrifugal pump drawing water for irrigatiou 
from a strcatn. 



The Saprar dam, Bmidhelkhand. Althougli dams of this size providc irrigatiou for 

comparatively small areas, they arc invaluable as aids to the improvcment of rural 

conditions in such terrain. 



4 



'•«%; 



"tt, 




FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

first shower of rain, the held is ploughed again. All paddy 
fieids being bundcd or embanked, all cracks in the bandhs 
should be repaired before the rams. Manure is then applied 
in heavy doses. Green manure is advocated and 15 to 20 
cartloads of compost or cattle-dung should be ploughed in 
before puddling, One hundred pounds each of ammonium 
sulphate and superphosphate (or bonemeal) is mixed well 
into the surface soil. 

In the process of transplanting care is taken (a) to remove 
all weeds from the nursery before beginning, (b) to pull the 
seedlings out one at a time, and not to bruise the stems or 
break the roots, (c) never to plant more than 4 seedlings ta 
each hole, (d) always to plant them straight rather than 
at a slant, (e) to hold the fingers of the hånd along the side 
of the secdling, pushing them into the soil ahead of the roots 
of the seedling and (f) to plant the seedlings 10 inches apart 
and 10 inches from row to row. 

To speed the process of transplanting, two workers hold 
a long string in a straight line. On the string are markers 
10 inches apart. The seedlings are inserted in the soil at the 
markers ; the string is then moved over 1 inches and plant- 
ing at the markers is repeated. Bamboo may be used 
instead of string. 

After the crop has grown for two weeks, all weeds are 
removed. A month after transplanting another dressing of 
100 Ib. each of ammonium sulphate and superphosphate is 
worked into the soil around the roots of the piants. From 
now on a soil-scratching tool is moved between the piants. 
About two weeks before flowering, all field work is stopped. 

It will be seen that an important factor in securing high 
yields by this method is the liberal use of fertilizer, supple- 
mented with bulky organic manures like compost and 
cowdung. 

Fertilizer plus Bulky Manure 

The value of commercial fertilizers, including oil-cake, is 
not unknown to the best of Indian farmers. Indeed, in the 
areas where such crops as potatoes, sugarcane, rice and wheat 
are grown intensively, the demand for commercial fertilizer 
far exceeds the supply. If they were only available in 
sufficiently large quaitities and at reasonable prices— -lower 

97 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

than the present prices by say 15 per cent — consumption 
might quite possibly be doubled. With a further drop in 
price it would go up still further, demonstrating a trend 
which is known to anyone who has moved among farmers 
of the poorer class. The reason is that the farmer 
has tried heavy manuring with cattle-dung and other 
bulky manures and has found that by the addition of 
commercial fertilizer he is able to get considerably higher 
yields of cereals, root, sugarcane and other crops. With 
a crop like sugarcane, for instance, response to nitrogen 
applied as sulphate of ammonia is often as high as 370 Ib. 
of crop per 1 Ib. of nitrogen applied. This is also the experi- 
ence of farmers in other parts of the world. 

In a recent paper 1 , R. I. Throckmorton, Dean of the 
Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, 
U.S.A., discusses most admirably the argument in favour 
of the use of commercial fertilizers along with that of 
bulky organic manures. He points out that organic matter 
' supplies most of the f ood needs of the soil organisms which 
aid in changing non-available plant food materials into 
forms that are available to the piants'. Organic matter, in 
faet, contains practically all the plant food material, but in 
limited quantities. Supplied by bulky manures, it improves 
soil tilth and increases the water-holding capacity of the 
soil. It further acts as a storehouse for the reserve nitrogen, 
supply, and when soil nitrogen is not combined with organic 
matter, it can be lost rapidly by leaching. 

Most soil scientists are agreed that organic matter alone 
though most important does not provide all the soil fertility 
needed to produce adequate yields of food crops. Throck- 
morton states that 'muck soils' or soils rich in applied 
organic matter contain as much as 20 to 50 per cent organic 
matter. But they still need fertilizer for efheient production. 
This is fundamentally true under Indian conditions, and 
deserves serious attention. 

Here are a few examples from the United States of the 
difference which fertilizers make when used in conjunction 
with organic matter or bulky manures : Wheat raised on 
soil containing 20 to 50 per cent of organic matter, but 

''Organic Farming Bunk' (Reader's Digest, November 1932, 
taken from Country Gentleman). 

98 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

without chemical fertilizer, yielded 5-7 bushels per acre, 
while the yield on plots trcated with chemical phosphorus 
and potash was 29-2 bushels per acre. In other words the 
use of fertilizers in the presence of ample organic matter 
increascd the yield by 400 per cent. Potato yield was 
increased by the same means from 97 bushels per acre to 
C97 bushels per acre, or an increase of nearly 600 per cent. 
In the case of cabbages the yield was raised, by the same 
means, from half a ton to 27 tons, an increase of 5400 per 
cent ! These results arc quoted by the Dean of the Kansas 
State College and must be taken as authentic. In the Middle 
West of America, fertility experiments on the grey silt 
loam soils, showed that over a 24-year period the average 
annual yield of lucerne, a valuable fodder crop now grown 
extensively in parts of India, was only 0-59 of a ton per 
acre, despite the use of large quantities of bulky organic 
manure. By adding lime and superphosphate, the same 
land produced an average yield of 2-29 tons, a 250 per cent 
increase. 

Not only does the use of commercial fertilizers increase 
the quantity of food and fodder produced per acre ; but the 
quality is also improved where the soil is deficient in the 
element applied as chemical fertilizer. For example, in the 
U.S.A. experiments have shown that the protein which is 
so important in building up living tissue, is increased in 
maize from a mere 5-7 per cent to 10-4 per cent by the use 
of nitrogenous chemical fertilizers. In India, where proteins 
are not generally plcntiful in the vegetarian diet of the vast 
majority of the people, so substantial an increase in the 
protein content of an important food crop, is of special 
interest. The subject of improving in quality the staple 
food of the masses, is one of the utmost national importance 
and is one which deserves the attention of those responsible 
for initiating and conducting research work on the various 
aspects of the food problem. What has been achieved in 
America can certainly be achieved in India and it is most 
desirable that work on improving the quality of food crops 
be commenced as early as possible. Areas under intensive 
farming offer ample scope for a careful study of the 
effect of fertilizers on wheat, rice, maize and other food 
crops. 

99 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

The use of fertilizer has produced other remai'kable eflects 
in the U.S.A. and in England. For example ; il has been 
observed at the Kansas State College that green-fly — a pest 
to cerlain crops and particularly to wheat — is vcry numerous 
on fieids where substantial quantities of bulky organic 
manure have been applied. On adjoining helds under 
nitrogenous and phosphatic fertilizer, very few of thesc 
insects were present, At the Rothamstead Experimcntal 
Station in Harpenden, England, earthworms — which help 
in maintaining soil fertility — are bigger and fatter in helds 
where fcrtilizers have been used, and are just as numerous 
as they are in helds where no fertilizer is present. Similarly, 
the application of superphosphate to the soil at rates 
commonly recommended has been observed to increasc the 
population of benehcial soil bacteria. Finally it must be 
borne in mind that because the use of fertilizers in con- 
junction with bulky organic manures results in heavy crop 
yields, organic matter in the soil is increased through heavier 
root growth and more stubble being ploughed or worked 
into the soil after harvest. The additional organic matter 
promotes the growth both of bacteria and of earthworms, 
both of which are most useful to the farmer. 

NON-CEREAL CROPS 

Under intensive-farming conditions, particularly in the 
vicinity of large markets, a good deal of attention is being 
given to the raising of vegetables and other subsidiary 
foods. The numerous tasty dishes that are being turncd out 
by experts in the Annapurna drive to save cercals will 
encourage the greater use of green vegetables, fruit, potatoes 
and nuts, and aheady there are restaurants run by govern- 
ment and private agendes to supply foods prepared from 
non-cereal ingredients, in a number of towns. But even in 
the growing of vegetables, the attention paid to the use of 
fertilizers is appallingly meagre, and the demand for roots, 
cucurbits, legumes, greens and fruits of all kinds is growing ; 
for the health and well-being of the masses depends on their 
consuming adequate quantities of these non-cereal foods. 
And unless production is increased, the present high prices 
of these foods will militate against their being consumed in 
adequate quantities. Examples have been quoted from the 

100 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

United States where the production of potatoes and cabbages 
has been increased by 600 and 5400 per cent respectively 
through the judicious use of fertilizers. At this rate the 
grower would still make substantial profits even if prices 
dropped to half the present level, because of his greatly 
increased output. It therefore behoves the State to make 
available to growers of subsidiary foods, as much nitro- 
genous and phosphatic fertilizers at reasonable prices as 
are in demand. 

The demand, even at present higli prices, far exceeds the 
supply so far as sulphate of ammonia is concerned. The use 
of superphosphates and bonemeal is not at present fully 
understood by the intensive-farming community and 
demonstrations to indicate their grcat value will have to be 
carried out over an appreciable pcriod. It may at first be 
necessary to subsidize the sale of superphosphate and, in 
any case, its price must be controlled at a lower level than 
the present one if the country is to benefit from the large- 
scale production of both cereal and subsidiary foods. In the 
absence of adequate supplies of commercial fertilizer, the 
enterprising grower sometimes resorts to the use of such 
crude fertilizers as brick-kiln ash. When applied with com- 
post and cattle-dung, very good results are claimed in 
vegetative growth and in fruit production, especially for 
citrus, ma.ngo, guava and jackfruit trees. The ash from a 
brick-kiln one hundred years old was analysed and was 
compared with fresh kiln ash. Both showed adequate 
quantities of plant nutrients, though lacking organic matter. 
Another source of fertilizer in crude form, for which very 
satisfactory results are claimed, is the earth from the place 
where country tanners wash their hides after liming. This 
earth is said to contain a considerable pércentage of lime, 
some hair, and scrapings of flesh. 

The country -has a long coastline. Why then are fish. not 
utilized more widely as food and as fertilizer? Fishmeal 
is both phosphatic and nitrogen-supplying and is as easily 
manufactured as bonemeal; but there are too few fish 
caught to make enough of this fertilizer for general use in 
intensive farming, let alone by the growers of subsidiary 
foods. (Why also is the Japanese method of raising fish 
in rice fields not practiced widely?) Papayas and guavas 

101 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

which should be available to the poorer people in town and 
village are being sold at exhorbitant prices: The use of 
phosphatic fertilizers would greatly increasc the production 
of this class of fruit and so bring it within the reach of a 
wider circle of consumers. 

Neither yet has India fully explored the potential sources 
of phosphatic and potassic fertilizers available in the 
country. It is time that a commission of experts examined 
this question, for the country cannot aflord to continue 
importing these fertilizers at present world prices, and the 
demand must and will increase under the Five Year Plan 
and after. The State cannot expect the farmer to appre- 
ciably increase production if it does not make available to 
him essential requirements of commercial fertilizer. An 
expert in the U.S.A. writing on America's dependence on 
fertilizer says, 'Chemical fertilizers stand between us and 
hunger.' If that is true of America, how much truer must it 
be of India, where the food position is already acute? 

Soil Response to Fertilizers 

A good deal of scientific information is now available 
about Indian soils which respond well to fertilizers. By far 
the most valuable work has been done in parts of the 
Gangetic Plain and is recorded in Soil Survey and Soil Work 
in JJttar Pradesh, volumes I and II, by R. R. Agarwal and 
C. L. Mehrotra. The soils of the western region of this state 
have been classified into six types. The characteristics of 
each type are determined after detailed analysis, and valuable 
experimental data have been collected, especially in regard 
to the response of cereal crops to the application of nitrogen 
as sulphate of ammonia, and phosphoric acid (P 2 O e ) as 
superphosphate. Here are some of the more interesting 
results : 

In the experiments conducted during 1949 to 1951, the 
value of phosphates for food crops was very thoroughly 
tested, The value of nitrogen had been known for many 
years ; but so far it was not generally known that the use of 
phosphates in conjunction with nitrogen could be of very 
significant value. The average response of crops to phos- 
phates over nitrogen was calculated for Gangetic alluvial 
soils. The number of trials was large enough to sample the 

102 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

effects due to the soils themselves as well as to other environ- 
mental factors. In the following table an attempt has been 
made to assemble this information. 



Crop 



Bajra 

per cent 



Juar 



per cent 



Maize 

per cent 



Paddy 

per cent 



Wheiit 

per cent 



Barley 

per cent 



Number 

ol 

trials 



08 



57 



17 



210 



45 



Rates of 
application 
in Ib. per acre 



Nitro- 
gen 



Phos 
phale 



15 



15 



15 



30 



15 



30 



30 



00 



00 



30 



00 



Yicld in Ib. per acre 



Control Nitro- 
gen 



Nitro- 
sen 
plus 
phos- 
phate 



482 
100 



050 
135 



700 
150 



434 
100 



564 
130 



031 

157 



504 
100 


002 
131 


750 
145 


1,00!) 
100 


1,785 
107 


2,025 
121 


1,003 
100 


1,373 
12!) 


1,010 
151 



1,215 
100 



1,553 
128 



1,963 

102 



The results show that nitrogen and phosphates applied 
as chemical fcrtilizers even in small doses increase yields of 
these cereal crops very signihcantly. They also show that 
although nitrogen alone is valuable, when applied with 
phosphates its effect is even more appreciable. The only 
possible exception is in the case of paddy, but the soil 
scientists who conducted these trials are of the opinion that 
if higher doses of phosphatic fertilizer had been tried with 
this crop the response would possibly have been much 
greater. The nitrogen in all cases was applied to the surface 
soil at sowing time; but the phosphate was applied 3 to 4 
inches below the level of the seed sown and to the side of the 
furrow in which the seed was dropped. 

103 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

The use of such bulky organic manures as cattle-dung, 
green manure and compost is of fundamental value. Without 
the presence in the soil of humus formed from organic 
matter, the necessary crumb structure, resistant to dis- 
integration by water, is not achieved. J. H. Quastel of 
McGill University, Montreal, gives in a recent article 1 an 
excellent, analysis of the value of organic matter to soils. 
According to him, organic matter is primariry derived from 
the decomposition products of piants and from 'the pro- 
ducts of autolysis of the immense numbers of micro- 
organisms which develop at the expense of substances of 
plant origin. A dynamic equilibrium exists in the soil 
between the numbers of bacteria, protozoa, yeasts and 
fungi etc, that iuhabit the soil and the organic matter being 
continually supplied by the decaying animal and vegetable 
tissues.' These animal and vegetable tissues are constantly 
subject to breakdown, but a iromber of substances resulting 
from this breakdown are themselves relatively resistant to 
breakdown. These substances make up in a large measure 
what is known as organic matter, of which an important 
product is the black colloidal material known as humus. 
This substance is important because it 'greatly influences 
the structure of a soil'. Since upon the structure or clustering 
of soil particles into aggregates or crumbs depends to a 
large extent the fertility of a soil, the presence of organic 
matter is essential for satisfactory crop yields. Organic 
matter, and especially humus, has a marked infmence on 
the movement of water, air and heat inside the soil. The 
granular or crumb structure in fertile soils gives them a very 
large internal surface in which many biochemical and 
chemical changes take place, adding to the productiveness 
of the soil. It will thus be evident to the reader why comraer- 
cial fertilizers should be used on soils which have been 
treated with bulky organic manures, and why the preserva- 
tion of all vegetable and animal tissue is essential. These 
substances should not be burnt or otherwise wasted. They 
are needed very badly, especially in Indian soils. Wastage 
of them should be made a punishable offence throughout 
India, because on them depends in so large a measure the 
economic strength and stability of the country. And incid- 

1 Nature, vol. 171, p. 7 (3 Januaiy 1953). 

104 



FERTILIZERS AND INTENSIVE FARMING 

entally, the prcsence in the soil of organic matter increases, 
through the process of aggregation of soil particles, the 
resistance of the soil to erosion. 

Soil Conditioning 

Recent research has discovered that certain chemicals 
have a marked eflect on the water-holding power and crumb 
stability of the soil. Such a chemical is sodium alginate, of 
which 1 per cent added to a poor soil depleted of humus 
greatly increases its water-holding power as well as its 
crumb stability, making it as fertile as a garden soil. Such 
chemicals arc known as soil conditioners. They are not 
plant nutrients, but by altcring the structure of the soil they 
make more water and oxygen available to plant roots. 

But work on this important aspect of soil fertility done by 
Quastel and Webley and confirmed by others has shown 
that the applied chemical tends to break down rapidly 
and that as 5 to 10 tons of it are required per acre this 
may have a harmful effect on the soil. Quastel thercfore 
endeavoured to find a substance or substances which, while 
improving soil structure, would not break down too soon. 
Such synthetic soil conditioners have been discovered and 
are sold under the tråde name of 'Krilium'. By this dis- 
covery, the possibility of improving fertility in semi-arid 
waste lands which have suffered through indifferent culti- 
vation or lack of sufficient organic matter, is within sight. 
Not only are crop yields improved, but the soil conditioner 
by forming a film permeable to the passage of water, pre- 
vents run-off and so protects the soil from erosion. Experi- 
ments have shown that adding 1 pound of the conditioner 
to 100 square feet of soil provides adequate protection to 
the soil, and an erosion loss of 50 tons of soil per acre can be 
reduced to a loss of 3 tons per acre. 

Experiments in which soil conditioners were applied 
' at rates of • 025 per cent and • 1 per cent to sevcral saline 
and alkaline soils produced high water-stable aggregations 
with considerable increases in permeability of soil'. The 
effect on crop yields was favourable. On the untreated soils 
maize gave poor yields, while on the treated soils the quality 
of the corn was excellent and the yields good. The soil 
conditioner CRD-186, hi other experiments, 'facilitated 

105 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

removal of salt and exchangeable sodium after irrigation of 
the soils'. These results are of the utmost importance in 
that they point the way to reclaiming certain alkaline and 
saline soils. By the use of soil conclitioners it is possible 
that much of our unproductive soil could be made to yield 
cereal crops of good quality and in sufficient quantity to 
more than cover the cost of the process. 

On his farm near Lucknow, the writer found that sonie of 
his irrigated fieids were so porous that the soil would not 
retain moisture long enough. The texture was sandy and, 
despite the usual applications of bulky organic manures, the 
trouble pei - sisted. Eventually a stiff clay was brought from 
a nearby village and was placed in the irrigation channel 
leading into these helds. In order that the result could be 
fairly judged, two adjoining fields of like texture werc not 
so treated. The result within a couple of years was astonish- 
ing. The aznount of clay applied was so small that it could 
hardly have amounted to 1 pound per 100 square feet but 
the two fields so treated improved beyond recognition; 
while in the adjoining untreated fields the trouble persists. 
Needlcss to say, this treatment has been extended to other 
parts of the farm where it was needed. Here is a cheap soil 
conclitioner which calls for immediate scientific investi- 
gation, and if the results confirm the writer's experience, 
it may save the country the money it would otherwise 
spend on commercial soil cønditioners for this class of soil. 

A great deal of information is available on the use of 
bulky manures and fertilizers to increase crop yields. While 
research is an unending process and must go on from year 
to year and from decade to decade, the valuable results of 
work done over the last hfty years or more should be passed 
on to the growers of our food crops without any delay. 
Community projects under the Technical Co-opcration 
Administration scheme already include held demonstrations 
on the value of manures and fertilizers. A far wider and more 
determined effort is needed, however, in order that every 
farmer in each district where irrigation is available may at 
least be acquainted with the benelits which would accrue to 
him if he used the appropriate mixtures of bulky maiiure 
and fertilizer in the right quantities and in the correct way. 




C HAPTER TEN 

MECHAMZ&TION, THE MAN AMD 
THE BULLOCK 

number of poli ticians and persons in responsible 
»positions in the Indian administrative machinery 
, firmly believe that mechanization has no place in the 
rural economy of the country. The emphasis is on the 
unsuitability of the farm tractor to Indian conditions rather 
than on any swceping condemnation of all machinery, and 
past experience justifies to some extent this point of view. 
Then there is the question of foreign exchange which limits 
the import of tractors ; there are the further ones of mainte- 
nancc, service, trained drivers, trained mechanics and spare 
parts. But there are many instances to show that the tractor 
has a place in the developmcnt of India's resources provided 
that quick and efficicnt service is available when breakdowns 
occur and that reliable and trained mechanics and drivers 
are available in sufficient numbers, also provided that the 
tractor is uscd not to supplant bullock-power and manual 
labour, but to supplement it. 

So far as tractors are concerned, it is appreciated on all 
hånds that lack of foreign exchange limits their import on 
any considerable scale : Therefore, in this discussion, neither 
the question of their import nor, indeed, of their supply 
under any economic aid scheme will be considered. All that 
matters from our point of view is whether the tractor has 
or has not an essential place in the drive for increased 
production. It is left to the rcader to judge whether the 
answer is a definite yes or no, a qualifled yes or a qualified 
no, and to the administration to decide whether or not 
tractors should be imported. 

In the discussion that follows the emphasis is on un~ 
developed and underdeveloped areas capable of exploitation 
by a Land Development Corporation or other such state- 
aided organization. For small holdings, bullock-power must 
continue to be the mainstay of the Indian cultivator. It is 
preferable to produce better bullocks and better small 

107 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

implements for the vast areas which will for many years 
depend. on them than to import tractors, except where 
large-scale co-operative ventures are proposed. 

In the outline of a recent official scheme for the development 
of a colony of about 100,000 acres, the following is to be 
found: 'In the colony, detailed experiments can be con- 
ducted to ascertain the efftciency and usef ulness of (a) tractor 
ploughing as against bullock ploughing, even with improved 
implements, (b) seed-drills, (c) harvesters. ' 

It is obvious that these words were drafted by one who is 
not well acquainted with tractors, but who has a vague 
idea that ploughing by tractors might be better than plough- 
ing by bullocks. One who appears to have a lurking suspicion 
that seed-drills and harvesters are worth experimenting 
with, though it is by no means clear that the power used 
would be tractors or bullocks. 

This sort of nibbling at a subject of national importance 
cannot take us very far. Why deliberate only on the use of 
the tractor for ploughing when there are numerous other 
uses to which it can be put ? Why not try to determine once 
and for all whether the tractor is wanted in India or not and 
if not, refuse to import any more ? But to do this, only one 
who has studied the subject and understands tractors 
should say in what respects and with what implements the 
tractor should be tested against bullock-power which has 
been the mainstay of the Indian farmer for four thousand 
years and more. Any Land Development Corporation 
worth the name should include in its programme the means of 
securing for the grower-members the maximum benefits 
of modem farming methods. 

' An Inter-State Statutory or Joint-Stock Company with 
unfettered powers and full freedom of action would have 
a better chance of producing results than departments of 
Government are likely to have.' One reason given by the 
authority from which this is taken is that ' Such a Corpora- 
tion or Company will be free from red tape and dilatory 
departmental control. ' Quite so, but what does or will any 
such Corporation or Company want from tractors? The 
answer is simple and, to some extent, obvious. The Indian 
farmer must get from the tractor what bullock-power alone 
cannot provide. 

108 



MECHANIZATION, MAN AND BULLOCK 

Disc Harrowing 

One situation which a tractor can help to mcet arises 
when, after the harvest of India's winter or rabi crop, 
the soil must be opened up by a suitable implement to 
incorporate the stubble into the surface soil, invigorate 
fertility, and help to absorb subsequent precipitation. 
India's bullock-power, after the harvest of the rabi crop, 
is being fully utihzed in threshing, by treading the entire 
harvest, and this talces a long time ; for the treading process 
has to render bhusa or trampled straw palatable and atlrac- 
tive as an important bulky food for bullocks and milch 
cows to last them for the whole year. This trampling requires 
patience and takes time, and the grower must have it done 
fairly soon after harvest ; otherwise the hot and dry weather 
causes him loss in weight of grain and strong winds may blow 
his bhusa about and untimely rain spoil it. Of course, the 
use of a power thresher, run by electricity or an oil-engine, 
would greatly expedite the process. But even so the straw 
would have to be turned into bhusa with the help of bullocks. 
Also, it is very doubtful if the bullock-power which could be 
economically maintamed on a 100,000-acre co-operative 
farm would be able to cope adequately with the post-harvest 
cultivation of so large an area. And, meanwhile, the helds 
from which the rabi crop has been harvested, are becoming 
baked and hard and the treading of the grain and straw 
takes so long that, by the time he is finished, it is generally 
too late for the cultivator to give these fields any surface 
cultivation before the rains set in. The first showers run off 
the surface ; the stubble of the recently harvested rabi crop 
is bone dry instead of being worked into the surface soil for 
use as much needed humus ; soil moisture is lost and nitrifi- 
cation is slow instead of being stimulated, Light cultivation 
by a tractor pulling a disc harrow or similar implement 
would solve this problem and would improve soil conditions 
for subsequent crops. The tractor would not have to be 
heavy- or even medium-weight ; one of about 20 H.P. 
would be suitable. If, however, as has been suggested in an 
earlier chapter, a really supcrior job is desired, a sub-soiler 
would be used and a heavier tractor will generally be 
necessary; for sub-soiling is profitable where the soil or 
subsoil or both are clayey in texture. But where the texture 

109 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

is a loam or light loam, opening up the soil and incorporating 
the stubble into it could be done sufficiently quickly with 
the help of a tractor drawing an implement suited to the 
local soil conditions. In this way 10 to 12 acres per day will 
be covered without much difficulty; while, with a heavy 
tractor and sub-soiler on clayey soil, the pace will be much 
slower and a maximum of about 3 acres is all that one may 
expect to cover in a day, the blades or prongs of the sub- 
soiler bekig hxed 2-J to 3 feet apart. A Land Development 
Corporation, with the help of a team of 10 or 12 tractors, 
could therefore lightly cultivate some 5 to 6 thousand acres 
between harvest and the middle of May, each year. 

Threshing 

Having found a use for the tractor in conserving soil 
fertility, let us see what could be done with one on the 
threshing floor. 

A medium-weight caterpillar type of tractor has been 
known to complete the threshing of 600 maunds (about 
50,000 Ib.) of sheaves of wheat and barley within two days, 
working fairly easily and giving the driver frequent rest 
periods because of the heat and dust and flying chaff which 
make the job unpleasant. By this mcthod the grain remains 
undamaged and the straw is converted into fairly good 
second quality bhusa. Meanwhile, the bullock-power released 
by the tractor carries out on any land left in stubble, the 
much desired light cultivation of the fieids from which the 
wheat and barley have just been harvested. Other work 
will also be found for bullocks at this time of the year ; for 
instance, in ploughing up fieids intended for catch crops 
after the rabi harvest. To get prime quality bhusa from the 
tractor-threshed straw, one has only to tread the straw, 
after it has been winnowed, with bullocks for a day or two, 
The difference in quality induced by the extra treading 
is, however, only very small, and this shows what an effective 
job the tractor is capable of doing. A team of 10 medium- 
weight tractors could deal with a rabi harvest at the rate of 
30,000 maunds of grain plus straw per day. As there would 
be about 75 days available before the monsoon (allowing 
time for winnowing and bagging the grain and storing the 
bhusa), this team of 10 medium-weight tractors could 

110 



MECHANIZATION, MAN AND BULLOCK 

thresh the produce of some 37,500 acres of a good crop of 
60 maunds of wheat and barlcy straw plus grain per acre. 
The bullock-power thus released over this area would be 
in the region of 4,000 pairs which, working light cultivators, 
could cover some 8 to 10 thousand acres per day. Mean- 
while, the available labour would be busy winnowing and 
completing the operation of separating the grain from the 
bhusa and finally in bagging the grain and stacking or storing 
the bhusa. The critic will at once say ' Will not your bullock- 
power, having finished the surface cultivation of 37,500 
acres in 4 or 5 days, be idle for the rest of the hot season ? ' 
The answer is a very defmite ' no ' ; for, in the first place, the 
light cultivation of rabi stubble will have to be repeated, 
particularly if there are pre-monsoon showers in April and 
May. Secondly, there will be produce to cart to the market, 
water to draw from well s and tanks for catch crops, and 
manure to cart and work into the helds by light cultivation. 
Thesc important pre-monsoon operations are at present 
neglected because available bullock- and man-power is tied 
up with threshing and winnowing throughout March, April, 
May and part of June. 

Preparing the Kharif Seed-bed 

Let us turn now to the next seasonal operation. The 
monsoon commences, and a seed-bed for the rainy-season or 
kharif crop has to be prepared and the seed sown as soon as 
possible. One reason for India's low millet and dry-area 
maize yield is the inability of the growers with available 
bullock-power to prepare a suitable seed-bed within the 
short time usually available, i.e. between the first few 
showers of rain. A light tractor moving fast, with a culti- 
vating implement in tow, would greatly help in securing 
a good seed-bed. If the sowing is done by seed-drill, the 
tractor would be of inestimable value in getting the seed 
sown within the short time available. Bullock-drawn seed- 
drills could work side by side with the tractor-drawn drills 
to get the entire area sown in time. 

Making the most of Manpower 

We must now decide how to employ the manpower 
displaced by the use of the tractor, Any labour set free after 

111 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

the rabi harvest but before the kharif sowing is over, will be 
kept more than busy in the work entailed in conserving 
manure, in making embankments to hold up rainwater and 
prevent erosion, and in a host of other operations. Inci- 
dentally, with tractors in sufficient supply, one or two could 
perhaps be spared for quickly raising barriers to the flow 
of water in anticipation of the monsoon. A large single- 
furrow plough will do this job most effectively and will 
eliminate unnecessary wastage of manual labour. Men and 
spades will, however, still be needed to beat the barriers into 
shape. There is in faet 110 reason why men should be put out 
of employment where a tractor is used. Tractors, siipple- 
menting available bullock- and man-power, can accomplish 
post-røfo harvest operations right up to the sowing of the 
kharif crop and, under intensive-farming conditions, the 
farmers would be most grateful for some labour to be released 
during the hot weather for the raising of catch crops of 
vegetables, chillies and green f odder for their household 
needs, for milch cattle and for the market. Such fruit trees 
as papayas, guavas and citrus also need special attention 
at this time of the year. And under dry-farming conditions 
the conservation of manure and moisture and the prepara- 
tory work of raising or repairing barriers against the flow 
of water, will require the active attention of any spare 
labour that there may be at this time of the year. It must 
also be remembered that thatching of roofs and other build- 
ing and repair work has to be done before the rains. 

PREPARING THE RABI SEED-BED 

We are now past the opening phase of the monsoon and, 
except where transplanting of rice has to be done, there is 
a respite of a week or two wherein men and bullocks rest 
after the gruelling heat and hard work of the hot weather. 
Tractors are serviced for the next phase of joint effort — - 
the sowing of the winter or rabi crop which is done after a 
satisfactory seed-bed has been prepared and bulky manure 
has been applied and thoroughly mixed with the surface 
soil. Whether it be dry-farming or farming of any degree of 
intensity, the farmer and his bullocks are now engaged in 
a race against the time permitted by Nature (during breaks 
in the rain and immediately after the close of the monsoon), 

112 




Transplanting seedlings of rice by the Japanese method, using 2 to i seedlings 

to each hole made by fingers. The voots should be planted straight down. To 

keep the seedlings 10 inches apart, bamboos are being used instead of string. 



A good crop of rice raised under intensive-farming conditians. The liberal 
use of bulky manure and ehemical f ertilizor always paya where water is not in 

short supply. 




MECHANIZATION, MAN AND BULLOCK 

and generally the race is lost by the grower because he is 
unable to get a really good seed-bed prepared with the 
bullock-power at his disposal. With a little help from the 
tractor, he could ensure a good crop by doing a thorough 
job of the cultivation necessary before the seed can be sown, 
and by getting his seed into the soil at the right moment. 

It must be borne in mind that a frequently recurring 
cause of low rdbi yields is late so wing. Winter sets in and 
the cold retards growth. There are cloudy days in December 
and January, followed by some rain. The cloudy weather 
often persists when the grain in the ears is just beginning 
to form or has reached the milk stage. Black, orange and 
yellow rust sets in and damages perhaps 20, 30, 50 or even 
80 per cent of the crop. This happens year after year 
especially in low-lying areas, and, apart from rusts, late 
sowing lessens the chances of normal plant growth and 
development. Sometimes, in his anxiety to get his seed sown 
in time, the farmer will hurry through the seed-bed prepara- 
tions, and unsatisfactory nitriiication and imperfect mixing 
of the bulky manure with the soil are the chief results. 
Fortunately this error is not too common ; but where an all- 
out effort is made by the grower to win his race against the 
time Nature allows him in getting a satisfactory seed-bed 
prepared, sowing is often delayed far beyond the optimum 
date. A poor crop is the inevitable result. 

A Land Development Corporation that possessed 
tractors would do well to employ them during the busy 
season from mid-September to the end of October, for 
ploughing, discing, cultivating or rolling as may be necessary. 
Bullocks would still be needed to complete the job. Where 
weeds abound, a single ploughing by tractor is often all 
that is necessary to bury them effectively and so destroy 
them and prevent their reappearance in any quantity 
during the growing season of the next wheat or barley crop. 
If weed-infested areas are tackled first and the entire area 
under the control of the Land Development Corporation 
is taken up in blocks, as far as available tractor-power will 
permit, the benerits will be visible in the very first year. 
A healthy crop freed from the competition of weeds, manured 
and sown at the optimum time, is rare. With tractors supple- 
menting bullock-power this desirable end will be achieved 

113 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

without much difficulty and the tractors will still be available 
for other operations during subsequent seasons. 

Other Uses fok the Tractor 

For the sowing of the winter cereal crop, it will be found 
that the use of a modern secd-drill drawn by a tractor will 
not only facilitate timely sowing — for in a single day one 
tractor-drawn seed-drill will cover 15 to 20 acres — but 
germination will, under irrigated conditions, generally be 
much more satisfactory than that obtained by sowing behind 
the desi plough or with the indigenous seed-drills available 
at the moment. Modern bullock-drawn seed-drills also save 
seed. 

In cases whcre interline culture under dry-farming condi- 
tions is not adopted and where there is no irrigation work 
to be. done, there will be a luil in activity on our tractor- 
cum-bullock-power co-operative farm, and this will last 
from the end of the monsoon until the harvest begins 
in March. This holds good however only if the entire 
area is set aside for rabi cereals. If, on the other hånd, 
potatoes are grown, digging them up with tractor-power 
supplementing manual labour will get the crop into the 
market while prices are favourable. Following the lifting of 
potatoes, the kharif crop, which is harvested in October and 
November, does not usually iieed the services of a tractor 
except in preparing the. seed-bed. But for post-harvest 
operations the tractor is again in demand; for if a catch 
crop is taken during the rams, the lield must be prepared 
quickly for the subsequent rabi crop; otherwise it must 
remain unutilized. Bullock-power is unable to cope with all 
that the intensive farmer can and must do to make the most 
of the soil, manure and irrigation available. 

An important crop under intensive-farming conditions is 
sugarcane, and nowhere is the demand for tractors greater 
than where this crop is raised. Preparation of the seed-bed 
commences soon after the monsoon and even as late as the 
end of November, when the potato harvest is over. This 
applies of course to sugarcane planted in February and 
March, for it is also jjlanted in October. 

Potatoes and sugarcane have been mentioned, not only 
because of their place in the rotation, but because they are 

114 



MECHANIZATION, MAN AND BULLOCK 

of importance for another reason, namely their after-effects. 
The grower of these crops and others like them knows that 
unless he heavily manures and deeply cnltivates his helds, 
he caimot expect satisfactory returns. The prospect of high 
prices induces him to put all he can into the preparation of 
the soil for these very profitable crops. They are his money 
crops. If he had tvvice or three times the bulky manure and 
chemical fertilizer he now possesscs, he would give it to 
these crops; especially if he could obtain the fertilizers at 
reasonable prices. Btit to get them properly incoq^orated 
into the soil needs deep and thorough cultivation, not always 
possjble with the bnllock-power available ; nor is it possible, 
without the help of the tractor, to prepare a sufficiently 
large area for these crops. 

Permanent Impkovement 

We have seen that after early November, by which time 
the rabi sowings are over, our tractors are comparatively 
idle. The obvious thing therefore is to employ them in putting' 
as mnch land as possible under those valuable crops for which 
deep cultivation and heavy manuring are necessary. This 
treatment generally results in what is known in scientific 
farming as permanent improvement. The texture is im- 
proved by the thorough and deep cultivation and the 
heavy manuring; the amount of humus increases; residual 
or unused chemical fertilizer and bulky manure left by the 
money crop enriches the soil so that the subsequent cereal 
crop is greatly benefited. This of course applies to intensive- 
farming conditions under which a rotation of sugarcane — 
green leguminous fodder — wheat — green manure — potatoes, 
or variations thereof is followed. Another rotation could be 
green manure — potatoes (two crops) — green manure — 
green legume — wheat. Under dry-farming conditions the 
rotation will depend on the soil and moisture conditions. 
available. 

Harvesting Rabi 

To return to our Land Development Corporation's team 
of tractors, we have harvested our potatoes in November, 
have prepared our seed-bed for sugarcane and planted it in 
January and February and March, and our tractors have a 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

brief respite for servicing and repairs until early March 
•when the rabi harvest commences. 

A problem now often arises: that of finding enough 
ilabour to harvest our wheat and barley before the hot and 
dry winds of March cause shrivelling of the grain, resulting 
in. a greatly reduced yield. Although no experimental data 
are available to show what loss in weight occurs in rabi 
cereal grains during the delays caused at harvest due to the 
inadequacy of labour for harvesting by hånd, the farmer 
knows the devastating effect of the hot and dry weather in 
March and early April on the weight of his crop. Shrivelled 
grain fetches a poor price compared with plump grain, and 
its flour is inferior in quality for making the bread of India — 
the chappati or rotee. This applies particularly to late-sown 
winter cereals. 

A quick harvest once the grain is ripe and an equally 
quick removal of the sheaves from the rieids to the threshing 
floor would be a hoon to all farmers in India. The use of 
harvesting machines worked by tractors and even of reaping 
machines worked by bullocks would achieve the desired 
result, without displacing much male labour. Actually it is 
female labour that is employed far more than male labour for 
harvesting rabi. li India is to raise her standard of Hving, 
her women must pay more attention to their hornes. If 
women were released from the necessity of working in the 
fieids at harvest, they could do a variety of things to make 
their hornes more comfortable, more attractive ; they could 
learn how to read and write, or give more attention to such 
håndkrafts as basket-making, embroidery and the like. 
Here is an opportunity for our Land Development Corpora- 
tion to set the pace in releasing women from the harvest 
by employing modern harvesting machines and its team 
of tractors. The saving in wages and in the amount of 
gleanings left in the field would earn the farmer-members 
of the co-operative venture run by our Corporation higher 
profits. But these should be employed in some measure to 
compensate those now out of employment and, in faet, to 
raise the standard of living of the families concerned, A 
modem harvesting machine can harvest as much as 20 to 
25 acres per day. Controlled by a Land Development Corpo- 
ration of the kind we are considering, 20 such machines 

116 



MECHÅNIZATION, MAN AND BULLOCK 

would cover 400 to 500 acres per day or 12,000 to 15,000' 
acres per month. With trucks or trailers hauled by tractors, 
a considerable quantity of the harvested crop could be taken 
to the threshing floors in a few trips, as soon as it is dry 
enough to thresh. Male and female labour would still be 
needed to load and unload the sheaves carried by the trailers, 
or trucks to the threshing floors and to spread the sheaves. 
out, if they are to be threshed by tractov-powered treading.. 
Even if stationary threshers are to be used, manual labour 
will be needed to feed the machlnes, bag the grain and put 
away the straw for subsequent treading. 

The Demand for Tractors, and Meeting it 

In India today, there is no need to create a demand for 
tractors, or for harvesting and threshing machines. It 
already exists, and in some piaces is so keen that the supply 
is tmable to keep pace with it. In Holland, the Netherlands 
Heath Companie makes a small number of tractors avail- 
able to several groups of villages. This company, which was 
'originally started by private enterprise, is the biggest 
instrument of the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture to 
carry out land development organization and afEorestation'. 
It is run as a commercial concern, charging 10 to 15 per cent 
plus costs for all work done. In India, private concerns ovvn- 
ing tractors are not at present generally willing to undertake 
contract work. If a Land Development Corporation spon- 
sored by the State were to undertake the risks involved and 
amalgamate or otherwise organize private ownership of 
tractors for work on co-operative farms, a solution to the 
problem of balancing supply and demand would be in sight. 
The situation would be additionally eased if State-owned 
tractors (such as those owned by the Central Tractor Organi- 
zation), were brought in to help tide over the periods of 
extra heavy demand. 

Readers of the foregoing paragraphs will, it is hoped, have 
reached the conclusion that bullock-power and manual 
labour need not and should not be displaced by tractors, 
but that tractors, if used at the right time and for the right 
jobs, can supplement to great effect the sources of power 
already available. The large-scale transformation of un- 
developed land demands the use of tractors and modern 

117 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

farm machinery, and this becomes increasingly apparent 
and of especial interest at this time, when the need for 
vigorous efforts to increase production has become a matter 
of paramount national importance and urgency. 

Improved Implements 

The subject of improved implements and simple machines 
driven by buLlock-power, does not comc strictly under the. 
general heading of mechanization and yet it is so relevant 
as to be worth touching on herc. 'During the past half Century, 
a number of implements and simple machines have been 
designed to be driven by bullocks. Some of them have been 
found exceedingly useful and have become so popular that 
the demand for them far exceeds the supply, which is 
limited mainly by the shortage of steel. The tie si or 
country-made plough, seen everywhere in rural India, is 
the grower's mainstay. It serves hoth as plough and as 
cultivator and }'et in the modern scientific sense it is neither 
the onc nor the other. It does not invert the soil, but, in 
addition to doing the ordinary job of a cultivator, it is 
heavy enough to press the soil down and so helps to some 
extent to connect up the moisture in the subsoil with the 
top soil. Modern agricultural engineers and scientists consider 
it slow and inadequate for the purposes for which it is 
employed. There is a strong body of scientilic opinion in 
favour of securing a sced-bed of more or less the same 
quality for hoth kharif and rabl cvops (in about half to & 
third of the time taken in using the desi plough) , by using a 
5-tined cultivator followed by the plank or wooden pata, a 
flat but heavy plank, varying in size, but usually some 8 to 
10 inches wide, d- or 5 indies thick and 8 to 10 feet long. A 
soil-turning plough would be used once or at most twice, 
the cultivator twice or three times and the plank after each 
operation, as is done when the desi plough alone is used. 
This is advocated as the process by which, during breaks 
in the monsoon and soon after the rains have stopped, 
preparation should be made for rabi sowings. For the kharif 
or monsoon crop, far less eifort would be needed. It is, 
however, not yet experimentally established on any official 
research station whether the desi plough can be eliminated 
entirely, although certain non-official experts claim that it is 

118 



MECHANIZATION, MAN AND BULLOCK 

not only possible, but desirable. Normally a good farmer 
will plough his held with the desi plough eight to twelve 
times before sowing the seed of his winter cereal crop. In any 
case, the use of a light- or medium-weight soil-turning 
plough for loams and a heavier plough for clayey soils, 
followed by a suitable multi-tined cultivator, both drawn 
by bullocks, saves much time and labøur compared with 
repeated ploughings with the desi plough. It would therefore 
be worthwhile to make available- more multi-tined cultivators 
to meet the growing demand for this class of hnplement. 

Another implement which has found favour with the 
Indian farmer, particularly in the great Gangetic Plain, is 
the harrow, which is found in various designs. The harrow 
drawn over cultivated helds pulls up grass roots and weeds 
left on and just below the surface during seed-bed prepara- 
tions. It is also used to break up the crust formed after the 
lirst irrigation of wheat and barley and, for this purpose, a 
peg-tooth harrow in which the pegs can be inclined at an 
angle is used, The pegs adjusted in this way do not damage 
the roots of the young piants. 

Reference has already been made to the value of bullock- 
drawn seecl-drills of suitable design. These, if available in 
sufficiently large numbers, would materially help to save 
seed and to increase our per-acre production of cereal crops. 
Disc harrows which chop up the surface soil and any stubble 
or weeds that may be growing on it, are at present available 
mainly for use with tractors. Bullock-drawn disc harrows have 
been tried in a few piaces and with success; they are 
extremely useful and their mass manufacture should be taken 
in hånd immediatcly and under proper supervision. 

Uneven ground, especially when under irrigation, is one 
of the most common causcs of poor yields. Even under dry 
conditions, growth is uneven when the held is not level. 
While in the low lying parts the crop may be satisfactory, 
on the higher portions lack of sufficient moisture takes 
heavy toll of it. Hot and dry winds tend to dry up the piants 
on higher ground when the grain is still green. Under irriga- 
tion the eifect is worse ; for water collects in the low lying 
parts and chokes the crop which it prevents from getting 
air. In the higher parts there is insufficient moisture, and a 
poor yield is the result. 

119 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

The enterprising farmer therefore tries to level up his 
fieids ; the implement most commonly being a metal scoop 
or kar/m with which he drags quantities of soil from the 
higher to the lower portions of his helds, this being done 
during the rainy season when the soil is easy to shift. The 
scientiric way to carry out this operation is to heap up the 
top soil to one side, plough up the subsoil of the higher 
ground and remove it to the lower where, in like manner, 
the surface soil has been heaped to one side. Subsoil thus 
covers subsoil and the living top soil is preserved as a 
covering for the subsoil over the whole held. The scoop 
or karha is simple in construction ; but chiefly because, 
owing to the scarcity of sheet iron, it is not manufactured 
in large enough numbers, it is not in use everywhere. 

Bullock- or pony-gears have been proved on some farms 
to be of immense value in lifting water from tanks or fairly 
shallow wells, and they are also used to work chaff-cutters 
and other such machin es, being capable of doing a more 
effective job and at less cost than if manual labour alone 
were employed to work the machine. As soon as the iron 
and steel position improves, the manufacture of these gears 
in larger numbers should receive serious attention. The 
same applies to bullock-driven water-lifting appliances 
like the Persian Wheel, especially those of improved design, 
and to the piston pump, which is worked either by hånd or 
by bullock. All these improved water-lifting devices should 
be put to officially controlled tests in different parts of 
India, and the most suitable for each area or tract should 
be made available to the farmer, and in sufficient numbers. 
This step would make a substantial difference to crop 
production which is essentially limited by the quantity of 
water that can be lifted in an hour. The modem appliance 
will often raise double or three times the quantity of water 
lifted by the outdated device. 

The Duty of the State 

It has become a habit with some people to blame the 
Indian farmer for the existing backward conditions and for 
the low yields of food and other crops. The faet should be 
reiterated that the means of improving his crop production 
have not always been available in sufficient quantity or at a 

120 



MECHANIZATION, MAN AND BVLLOCK 

reasonable price. For this he is not to blame. Short-sighted 
policies lacking in practical value have been, among other 
things, largely responsible for the faet that the manufacture 
of improved implements for sale at reasonable prices in 
the villages has received little attention; and without them 
the farmer has been helpless. Deprived of free and com- 
pulsory education, crushed by hunger and poverty and by 
the many demands made on him under a feudal system, he 
has been perhaps the most oppressed of all classes of society. 
Let those in power make up to him in the fullest measure 
now, what he has been deprived of during the past, and the 
result will be reflected in a sounder agricultural economy 
and in adequate food production. 

A State-aided but commercially run Land Development 
Corporation would be in the best position, under present 
conditions, to bring agricultural production to the desired 
level. With such an organization, both undeveloped and 
underdeveloped lands could be made to contribute more 
substantially to the country's food supplies. The use of 
tractors and improved and up-to-date machinery and 
implements would play an important part in the organi- 
zation's drive for more and better food. The imperative 
necessity of maintaining adequate servicing facilities for 
tractors and other machines and of stocking spare parts 
would, of course, be part of the scheme. 

It will be a long time, however, before the individual 
farmer gets the benefit of such machines and implements 
unless co-operatives are rapidly organized all over the 
country. Even when these co-operatives have come into 
existence, no lasting good will result and the use of improved 
implements and machines will never be a permanent feature 
of the country's efforts to meet its food requirements, until 
there has been organized a vast network of service stations 
and workshops with trained personnel to go from farm 
to farm enquiring into the needs of each farmer. 

This is not as difhcult a matter as would appear at first 
sight. Hydro-electric power lines already exist in many 
parts of the country and are being multiplied under the Five 
Year Plan ; in other piaces Diesel engines can be used to work 
small generating piants; workshops for State and public 
transport are to be found throughout the country, and 

121 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

branches can always be started wherever servicing has to 
be carried out and spare parts stocked. For the farmers to 
get the best service from these centres, they should be run 
on co-operative lines, State-aicled to begin with. Unless the 
Indian farmer is a contributing and not merehy an orna- 
mental member (as he so often is) , a co-operative will never 
work smoothly or effectively, for the farmer must feel a 
sense of personal responsibilitjr for its efficient running. 
The presence of these centres need not mean that the village 
blacksmith goes out of business, for he would be trained 
and employed as part of the centre's personnel. Far from 
creating unemployment, the scheme would create a big 
demand for mechanics and the more highly trained 
agricultural engineers. The village artisan would fmd employ- 
ment in these centres in the construction of the various 
parts of, for example, water-lifting appliances, the actual 
assembly of which could be done at a central place, rather 
as watches are made in Switzerland, from the components 
made piecemeal on a cottage-industry basis. 

While the planning and organizing visualized here is 
taking place, the State should consider seriously the question 
of importing parts of machines rathcr than the ånished and 
assembled article. The assembly of parts in India will save 
the farmer and his co-operatives considerably in costs, for 
import duty is at present much higher for the assembled 
machine than for its component parts importcd sevérally. 
In order to encourage the use of tractors and other foreign 
machinery for the cxpress purpose of increasing food pro- 
duction, the State must be prepared to forego sorae of its 
income from customs duties. Assembly piants, operating 
under foreign expert aid and with the help of foreign capital 
if necessary, would be a boon to the farniers of India, and 
should continue to function until such time as machines and 
implcments of a comparable quality can be manufactured, in 
their entirety, within the country itself. 




C HAPTER ELEVEN 

REORGANIZtNG TO PRODUCE 
MORE 

"AD the present organization dealing with increased 
food production in India worked satisfactorily, the 

.Grow More Food campaign would have produced 
more than negligible results. This is not a reflection on any 
particular administration ; it is a surmise based on results 
achicved during the past decade. The purpose of this book 
is not to analyse the causes of failure in the past, but rather 
to specify the kind of organization that is most likely to 
achieve the best results in the near future. 

The Agricultural Extension Services 

No matter how attractive a scheme may appear on paper, 
it is the quality and strcngth of the Agricultural Extension 
Services that will very largely determine its siiccess or failure. 
Assuming that the dfrecting authority at the Centre is 
advised by men of the highest calibre and that the selection 
of Commissioners of Development and Directors of Extension 
Services in the various states is based purely on merit, and 
is irrespective of scniority in service, let us briefly cxamine 
the composition of the present set-up in the states and see 
in what respects it can be brought to the standard necessary 
for working out in the tiekl the country's most urgent food 
production schemes. 

Starting at village level, the lowest paid officials in the 
Agricultural Extension Services, usually called kamdars, 
kamgars or mukkadams, are generally ineffective, both 
individually and as a team. Lacking in initial training, in- 
adcquately supervised and, above all, unwisely selected, 
these men, with a few exceptions, live for their pay and give 
their essential work only perfunctory attention. The result 
is that their presence in the villages is often regarded as a 
nuisance by the farmers. Instead of commanding respect 
they are often ridiculed, a state of affairs which is not 

123 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

conducive to the creation of mutual confidence between 
this class of official and the farmers whose welfare and 
interest hc is called upon to enhance. Window dressing to 
satisfy hurried inspections by higher officials is too often 
the result of this unhappy situation. 

The remedj* is, first of all, for a team of competent over- 
seers to be selected and appointed to assist the Agricultural 
Officer in each district in his work of control and supervision. 
After a brief period of training, this team headed by the 
District Agricultural Officer should put the kamdars of the 
district through a severe course in effective methods, 
approved by the Dircctor of Extension Services. The train- 
ing over, the kamdars should be put through a gruelling test 
in order to ascertain which of them are still incapable of 
working the sanctioned schemes with efficiency and vigour. 
Those found wanting must be dismissed without further ado 
or red-tape delay, as the country's food situation does not 
permit of leniency. To replace the dismissed men, appli- 
cations should be invited for the posts falling vacant and 
the same training and tests imposed so that the best of the 
trainees can bc selected. 

As a further insurance against slackness on the part of the 
kamdar, each should be given nominal basic pay only, 
rather below the minimum cost of living, and bonuses, 
based entirely on the quality and quantity of the work 
achieved, up to a maximum to be determined for each state 
by the government concerned, should be paid quarterly. 
The bonuses should be graded for first and second rate work, 
third rate work being considered unworthy of a bonus. 
Such an approach to the problem will appear severe, but is 
the only way to get results of any value. Incidentally, it 
may be found that one first rate kamdar is better than two 
of the second grade and that it is possible to work with a 
smaller but more effective field staff at reduced cost to the 
State. 

This process of training and selection should also be 
employed in finding the right type of supervisor or inspector 
to serve under the District Agricultural Officer, and the 
selection of the District Agricultural Officer himself should 
be according to his worth, and not dictated by any other 
prejudice. Those men with poor records should be compelled 

124 



REORGANIZING TO PRODUCE MORE 

to retire : Others, more active, having the necessary initiative 
and drive and above all imbued with the spirit of selfless 
service, must take their place. A useful spur to the efficiency 
of these officers would be to empower the Director of Exten- 
sion Services to evaluate, during his periodic inspections, 
the work of each and to promote or reduce in rank on the 
basis of his evaluation, without the ordinary process of a 
charge sheet and all the red-tape delays involved therein. 
There are at the moment too many official restrictions 
preventing state administrations from getting the best out 
of their Agriculture Department chiefs and Directors of 
Extension Services. The red-tape must be relaxed in the 
interests of the national drive for self-sufficiency in food. 
The old order must change, yielding plåce to the new, if 
a.ny substantial progress is to be made within a reasonable 
time. 

The present set-up in some states whereby the District 
Agricultural Officer is placed under a District Planning 
Officer who in turn is supposed to guide and direct all 
nation-building activities within the horders of his district, 
is a bad one. The District Agricultural Officer must not be 
fettered by interference from the District Planning Officer. 
The latter may have charge of other nation-building activi- 
ties, e.g. Co-operation, Public Health and Education, if it is 
considered desirable that he should; but food production 
must have top priority, and for this purpose it is most 
undesirable to have the District Agricultural Officer under 
any officer other than his own departmental director. The 
District Magistrate can still be the co-ordinating official 
for all nation-building activities in his district but, so far as 
agriculture is concemed, he must, during the present 
emergency, leave the District Agricultural Officer severely 
alone and confme his action, on the discovery of any irregu- 
larity, to drawing the Director's attention to the matter 
and advising him to make a personal examination. 

To gain the maximum co-operation from district officials 
of other departments and of all grades at the village level, 
it would be advisable to hold occasional study groups in 
which they may be acquainted with the methods of work for 
increased production and in which local problems may be 
agreed upon. At these study groups the District Agricultural 

128 



BETWE E N USA N D H U N G E R 

Officer should explain in cletail the method of approach 
vvhich he and his staff of supervisors and kamdars are busy 
adopting, shovving in the village actual anti-erosion work, 
moisture and humus conservation, anti-pest measures and 
other activities. All grades of officials from other nation- 
building departments must be present, and should be 
invited to take notes, make observations and put questions. 
This procedure will enhance tbe prestige and importance of 
the food production drive, a prestige which has tended to 
disappear since it was relegated to a position subordinate 
to a general planning" serierne not primarily devoted to 
higher food production. 

The next question is that of the extent to which non- 
official support or assistance is needed in working out 
schemes in the villages ; whom to confide in, how much help 
to expect and what non-official opinion and advice to accept 
before and during tlie operation of the scheme. 

Farmers in India can be categorized as follows : those who 
have confidence in government-sponsored schemes for their 
betterment ; those who are indifferent and regard the official 
as a nuisance, and finally those, who from past experience 
of incompetent or corrupt kamdars, distrust and dislike 
auy official attempt to increase production. Happily the 
last named are not in the majority; they are in faet the 
exception. Those indifferent are by far the largest in number, 
but of the flrst group there are fortunately a sufficient 
number to form the backbone of any good State scheme. 
It is these men who must be taken into the fullest confidence 
and whose assistance, which will always be gladly given, 
must be sought not onry in working out schemes, but in 
gaining the confidence of the indifferent or antagonistic 
elements in the village. They have, however, their own jobs 
to attend to, and too much should not, in all fairness, be 
expected of them. They will nevertheless help all they can 
and it is up to the local agricultural officials to befriend 
them and enlist their active co-ope ration. 

The co-operation of panchayats (village governing bodies 
made up of locally elected elders) is also essential to the 
success of any scheme, and they must therefore be taken 
into complete confidence. The valne and mode of operation 
of each scheme must be fully explained to them and the more 

.126 



REORGANIZING TO PRODUCE MORE 

active and enthusiastic among them should be enlisted to 
support and hclp at every turn. 

A Land Army 

Finally, there are the better educated persons — retired 
government officials, school teachers, students and political 
workers — from among whom a body of enthusiasts has to be 
recruited and organized to assist in official schemes. They 
will form the nuclcus of an organized and trained Land 
Army. Disciplinary rules and a liigh standard of eificiency 
will not be easy to enforce or attain, but without these the 
Utility of the force will be negligible. It should therefore be 
recruited and organized on the lines of the British war-time 
Home Guard; pledges taken from each recruit and distin- 
guishing badges worn by them. Transport, food and other 
facilities must also be pvovicled. Each district should be 
allotted a brigade, or a division, depending on its size, and 
these should be placed in the charge of a responsible official 
working under the direction of the District Agricultural 
Officer, the entire Land Army of each statc to be the direct 
responsibility of the Minister in charge of food production 
schemes who could work through a Development Commis- 
sioner or a Director of Extension Services. 

Some idea of the functions of such a Land Army has 
already been given. These functions will have to be specihed, 
and each will be exclusively concerned with increasing 
agricultural production. They will ultimately determine 
what objectives, under each section of the scheme, have to 
be achieved and in how much time. Setting a time limit will 
enable the Land Army personnel to adjust their hours of 
work accordingly; to devote, if necessary, their holidays and 
their leisure hours. 

Once the training period is over, those men and women 
who are found to be gifted with the greatest capacity for 
leadership should be put in command of work groups or 
platoons of the local company, brigade or division of the 
District Land Army. Delegating responsibility to selected 
persons within the Land Army will increase the enthusiasm 
of the mass and should be conducive to effective work. 
Their efhciency will depend very much on the hefp and 
guidance given them by the. Extension Services whose 

127 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

primary responsibility it will be to see that the various 
schemes, once inaugurated, are run successfully. 

Cinemas, schools, the radio, the postal system, the press 
and every other possible avenue for propaganda should be 
mobilized to draw pointed attention to the need for a Land 
Anny such as this. Recruiting centres must be opened at 
as many piaces as possible, in cities and in rural areas, 
Pamphlets, explaining precisely the commitment of eacb 
recruit and the nation's need of his or her services, should be 
published and distributed freely. It is not enough for 
country's leaders to stress in Parliament the gravity of the 
food situation and the urgent need for food production 
schemes to be given top priority. The sentiment must become 
a reality. The need for immediate action must be universally 
recognized. 

Since this was written an announcement has appeared in 
the National Herald, Lucknow, of the steps the Government 
of Uttar Pradesh is taking to mobilize the manpower of the 
State. There is in Uttar Pradesh an organization known as 
the Prantiya Rakshak Dal (P.R.D.), consisting of about half 
a million volunteers working under the guidance of salaried 
organizers. The Rakshaks themselves are paid only for each 
individual job. Then there is the Panchayat Raj Organi- 
zation, vvhich consists of village committees entnisted with 
certain powers of self-government within the jurisdiction 
of their own village or group of villages. Similarly there are 
Gram Sabhas (local committees) concerned with agricultural 
development in the villages. To these organizations has been 
added the whole student community of the State which may 
be cailed upon 'to make their contribution to the work of 
nation building'. According to the official communique, 
'The P.R.D., the Panchayat Raj Organization, the Gram 
Sabhas and the students will be the chief agencies for the 
mobilization of the whole population.' This is the genesis 
of a Land Anny for the State of Uttar Pradesh ; but whether 
it will be effective in bringing about the revolutionary 
cha-nges in rural economy which are needed before agri- 
cultural production can be increased to the desired level, 
remains to be seen. Much will depend on how the efforts 
of this very large body of workers are organized, controlled 
and fostered. The Commissioner of Development and 

128 




Fighting pyrilla, a deadly insect pest of sugarcane, by a modern spraying 
machine. This pest also attaoks wheat and barley. 

A disc harrow drawn by a light tractor does a good job quickly, saving valuablu time. 







REORGANIZING TO PRODUCE MORE 

Planning of Uttar Pradesh Las forwarded the scheme to 
District Magistrates throughout the State, asking them to 
maintain and check according to a formula to be supplied 
to them in due course 'an up-to-date and correct record 
of the work done on each day and an account of its valua- 
tion'. This is an excellent beginning and it is hoped that the 
rest of India will follow suit. 
To su.mma.rize the work a Land Array could carry out : 

1. Stopping soil erosion by (a) putting up field barriers, 
(b) gulley plugging, (c) treating hilly ground with clay 
barriers, (d) planting trees, shrubs and grasses, (e) making 
broad-based and bench terraces in cultivated riverain and 
hilly areas and (f) planning drains. 

2. Conserving organic and mineral matter. This will 
entail (a) uprooting and collecting all weeds, especially 
during the monsoon and before they run to seed, (b) utilizing 
tank silt, sugarcane trash, ashes, bones, crop stubble, 
human excreta, village sweepings, urine earth, cattle drop- 
pings and manger waste and (c) burying dead animals in 
such a way that their decayed remains can also be used as 
fertilizer. 

3. Catching and utilizing rainwater by (a) seeing that 
as much as possible soaks into the soil and subsoil (bunding), 
(b) deepening tanks, (c) repairing and maintaining water 
channels, lining them with clay to make them non-porous, 
(d) deepening, cleaning and maintaining masonry wells, (e) 
wherever possible, increasing the area under irrigation by 
channelling water from streams, lakes and the Uke and (f) 
constructing culverts on village roads to prevent wastage 
of irrigation water. It is a common' sight to see water from 
irrigation channels spreading out on to country lånes, making 
cart traffic difficult. The only way to stop this is to construct 
culverts so that carts can pass over the channels without 
cutting them up. Culverts will also be required to carry 
away storm-water which otherwise scours cultivated land. 

ét. Assist the legislators in the consolidation of holdings by 
convincing the farmers of the wastage of time and effort 
caused by having their holdings scattered, and assisting in 
the more difficult tasks of forming co-operative societies 
and of arranging for the voluntary exchange of land. Publi- 
cations of the Food and Agriculture Organization on the 

129 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

subject and the methods employed in other parts of the 
world should be studied. 

5. Destroying animal, insect and bird pests and super- 
vising the segregation of cattle. Also countering prejudice 
against the sterilization of unfit cattle. Spraying crops with 
insecticides and against fungus diseases. 

6. Initiating the farmer in the reclamation of alkaline 
and saline lands and the utilization of waste patches. This 
will entail a rough initial survey of the available land. 

7. Advocating and demonstrating the methods described 
in chapters seven and nine for improving cereal yields. 

A Land Development Corporation 

What of the undeveloped lands, fallow lands and vast 
areas which at present lie idle, but which under scientific 
treatment would yield very large quantities of rice, wheat, 
other cereals, and other agricultural pToduce? These areas 
run into tens of millions of acres, and there is at present 
no satisfactory organization which could make them sub- 
stantially productive in a short time. 

Recently, K. M. Munshi, as Minister for Food and Agri- 
culture in the Central Government, conceived the idea of a 
Land Development Corporation with large statutory powers 
' inter alia to acquire, reclaim and cultivate land ; to take 
land for cultivation on hire, to settle people on land re- 
claimed; to carry out irrigation projects; to manufacture 
tractors or provide tractor service; to drill and sink wells 
and tube wells; to manufacture and improve pumps; to 
import fertilizers and agricultural implements; to promote 
and improve forests and tree lands ; to establish and conduct 
appropriate forest extension services ; to set up institutions, 
research stations, workshops and factories, and other conse- 
quential and germane matters'. This is more or less the 
pattern of the Dutch organization known as the Netherlands 
Heath Companie. In India it would have to be an inter- 
state statutory or joint-stock company with wide powers, 
and to this reference has already been made. It is suggested 
that such a Development Corporation could in due course 
be the national executive for land transformation and that 
the World Bank would probably be willing to loan the 
necessary dollar exchange involved. It should not be 

130 



REORGANIZING TO PRODUCE MORE 

difficult for the Government to start the Corporation by 
loaning the necessary funds. The scheme could probably be 
financed in sterling exchange from the American Technical 
and Economic Aid programme. 

The Corporation could commence its activities on two 
or more blocks of 100,000 acres and aim for a small profit 
margin. With a team of experts directing the Corporation's 
activities thcre would be opportunities to train personnel, 
to make tractors and other machinery available to groups 
of villages, especially to those in which co-operative farming 
has been organized. The Heath. Companie of Holland before 
it had its own tractors, took them on hire and used them in 
this way. It has been the experience of other countries that 
once a reliable tractor service has been introduced, small 
farmers, especially those who are members of a co-operative 
society, become desirous of buying or hiring tractors. 

A Land Development Corporation sponsored and aided 
by the State is more likely to achieve the speedy conversion 
of waste and underdeveloped lands into areas which can 
be depended upon for substantial production, than any 
other agency. This is borne out by experience not only in 
Holland but, by inference, even in India. In the tarai areas 
of Uttar Pradesh, the Government of that State has been 
able to develop in a short time a very large tract of malaria- 
ridden waste land and to develop it at considerable profit 
to the State. The success of this venture was due very 
largely to the initiative, energy and drive of one able and 
enthusiastic officer. Similarly, Dr Dwyf's very large farm 
in Madhya Bharat has been extraordinarily successful not 
only in increasing production but in helping to bring into 
existence a large co-operative society of cultivators. Here 
again, achievement was largely owing to the initiative and 
enthusiasm of one man. To find a sufficient number of 
individuals of this calibre to develop tens of millions of 
waste land will be extremely difficult ; but a Land Develop- 
ment Corporation with definite aims and with a time limit 
wherein to achieve them, is the type of agency most 
likely to prove feasible and effective. 

It is true that state governments are empowered by the 
Land Utilization Aet to develop waste lands within their 
respective areas ; but past experience has shown that these 

131 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

powers are not exercised vigorously. The official machine 
has to face many difhculties both within and outside itself, 
whereas the type of Corporation visualized here could be 
authorized by statute to take over on lease and to develop 
all underdeveloped land, on a small profit basis. The 
developed areas could then be populated by landless agri- 
culturists on a co-operative f ooting under State guidance and 
control. Incidentally, lands so developed would help 
materially to solve the problem of congestion which results, 
in certain parts of the country, in holdings that are too 
small and uneconomical. 

Co-OPERATION 

Reference has been made to co-operative farming. To 
organize voluntary collective farming on a co-operative 
basis or on one of compulsory collective effort is extremely 
dif&cult under Indian conditions. Smallholders, especially 
after their recent legal acquisition of bhumidari or proprie- 
tary rights, resulting from the abolition of the feudal system, 
are inclined to be possessive and to resent interference. 
One of the many redeeming traits of the Indian farmer is 
however that, despite his conservatism, he will readily 
adopt anything new of the benefits of which he is convinced. 
It is entirely a question of how tactfully he is approached by 
the co-operative and agricultural extension services of the 
various states. Much patience and wisdom is needed. The 
idea of co-operating with his neighbour is not foreign to the 
villager; but to recruit him as an effective member of a 
village co-operative is another matter. 

Co-operatives once organized and successfully worked 
become the starting point for co-operative farming in a 
wider and more comprehensive sense. That such co-opera- 
tives can be successfully organized is amply illustrated by 
the example of the sugarcane growers of Uttar Pradesh. 
The following quotation from a recent account in The 
Pioneer 1 of the development of co-operatives of cane growers 
in that State is revealing : 

'When protection came to the sugar industry about 
twenty years ago, a large number of sugar factories were 
started in the United Provinces. They were soon faced with 

1 20 January 1953. 

132 



REORGANIZING TO PRODUCE MORE 

the problem of getting fresh cane with a high sucrose- 
content for their requirements, but there was no organ- 
ization for either the development of cane or its marketing. 
In this wilderness of chaos, the law of the jungle reigned 
supreme. Zamindars, money-lenders and even village 
rumans acted as purchasing agents and dictated terms to 
the cultivators. These latter, unorganized, harassed and 
exploited, were in great distress. 

'In 1937, the problem was to mould a primitive agricul- 
tural economy to meet the needs of the sugar factories, and 
protect the interests of the cultivators as well. The Sugar 
Factories Control Aet was passed in 1938, and gave a great 
fillip to the growth of cane co-operative societies, a few of 
which had already been started. Areas were demarcated and 
reserved for the exclusive supply of cane to the factories. 
It was now essential to organize the growers in the ' ' f actory 
zones" into co-operatives. The Cane Commissioner and his 
officers bent all their energies to this task. 

'He and his band of enthusiasts travelled into every 
district, organizing co-operatives and preaching in the 
wilderness as it were, the gospel of "getting together". 
The response from the villagers was most heartening. They 
saw in the movement an opportunity to relieve their 
distress and build the foundations for future improvement 
in the countryside. But there was hostility from some 
factories. Attempts were made to wreck the co-operatives ; 
even the law was invoked to challenge the right of culti- 
vators to form co-operative societies. But the movement 
had already caught the imagination of the cane growers. 
In 1936 there were 36 cane co-operatives with a mernbership 
of 100,000; today there are 110 societies with 1,300,000 
members extending to 97 per cent of the factory areas. 

'The cane co-operatives were started originally with the 
object of marketing cane; the development of cane was 
added to their functions soon after. Today their work has 
progressed into a village movement — a movement of 
ordinary people. It has justihed its existence and derives 
its being from the living stream of village surroundings. It 
now impinges on every aspect of village life, better health, 
better education and a fuller life. The words "community 
development" had not then come into vogue, but the 

133 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

co-operative spirit was permeating the lives of the simple 
village folk. 

'Measures for the development of cane cultivation have 
included the supply of improved seed, manure and fertilizers, 
improving irrigation facilities and checking and controlling 
sugarcane pests and diseases. As a result, the whole State is 
today covered with cane of improved varieties, the total 
average distribution being 30 lakh maunds [over 100,000 
tons] of seed a year. The cost of mamires and fertilizers 
distributed to the cultivators is now Rs 1 crore [about 
£750,000] a year. On the irrigation side, 22 tube wells have 
been sunk in the cane areas in addition to the construction of 
thousands of masonry wells and the installation of numerous 
pumping piants and Persian Wheels. ' 

The funds of this organization have been built up from the 
contributions of cane growers at the original rate of one 
quarter of an anna per maund (82 Ib.) of cane sold to the 
factories. This rate has since been increased to three quarters 
of an anna per maund. A Cane Union's Federation for the 
entire State of Uttar Pradesh was formed in 1940 with cash 
reserves amounting to Rs 650,000 (about £49,000), over a 
third of which will be used to set up its own fertilizer mixture 
plant. The funds of the co-operatives have been employed 
for a variety of purposes benefiting the community. Colleges 
and schools, libraries, hospitals and maternity centres 
abound within the zones served by the co-operatives. In 
one factory zone the co-operative has built 122 culverts, 
27 bridges and 54 miles of metalled road. Bulk purchase of 
fertilizers and improved implements for supply to members 
and a central building, which cost Rs 200,000 (£15,000), 
housing the Cane Union's Federation's headquarters, are 
other achievements of note. 

This instance of the successful organization and operation 
of a large co-operative combine, which has provided the 
means of increasing the per-acre sugarcane yield by 50 
per cent, serves to illustrate what might be accomplished 
among growers of other crops; e.g. of the cotton supplied 
to ginning factories situated in the cotton-growing areas; 
of the jute supplied to jute mills within convenient distance 
of the main jut e-growing areas ; of tobacco, oilseeds and other 
crops. 

134 



REORGANIZING TO PRODUCE MORE 

Let the main crops of each area be taken up severally 
and let co-operatives be organized to market them. The 
development departments of each state government must 
be made responsible for mobilizing the manpower necessary 
for the scheme. Funds can be maintained by the levy of a 
few annas per maund on each crop selected for marketing ; 
for, by eliminating the middleman's profits, by arranging 
for better transport, by the mobilization of manpower, 
the benefits accruing to the grower and to the State would be 
almost unlimited. And what applies to sugarcane, cotton, 
jute, oilseeds and tobacco, applies also to wheat, rice, gram, 
millets and maize, and of course to subsidiary foods like 
potatoes, groundnuts, green vegetables and fruit. 

The middleman need not be thrown out of employment 
altogether. He can, if he is prepared to accept reasonable 
remuneration as an employee of a co-operative, still earn a 
living ; but it will no longer be possible for him to become 
enormously rich at the expense of his less gifted countryman, 
the tiller of the soil. For, so long as he is organized and assist- 
ed by wise statesmanship, it is the grower who will help the 
nation become economically strong, and not the middleman. 
Therefore it is to assist the grower and his means of pro- 
ducing food that all organized manpower, official and 
voluntary, must be directed, if any substantial increase 
in agricultural production is to be. immediately achieved. 



CHAPTER TWELVE 



LOOKIJYG AHEAD 

npHE United Nations Survey for 1951-2 shows that 
§ India's economic position was worse in that year 
JLthan it had been in the year 1946-7. Much is expected 
of the Five Year Plan ; but even of that it is said that it will 
merely succeed in restoring to the nation the living stand- 
ards of 1939. It is also said that the Plan will not malte 
India entirely self-sufficient in food supplies; although it 
is expected to go a long way in that direction. But the Plan 
is to be commended for the many benefits that must accrue 
from the harnessing of the country's water resources for 
irrigation and the generation of hydro-electric power ; from 
the development of industry and of the country's rural 
economy and from the social welfare projects. Nevertheless 
there can be no lasting economic strength or security, no 
real prosperity nor any substantial raising of the standards 
of living in town or village until agricultural prodiiction is 
able to meet all the country's requirements and leave an 
exportable surplus. To obtain food enough from the land 
to make India really free from hunger and want, does not 
lie within the power of the Planning Commission, nor of the 
Central and state governments, with all their resources of 
men, money and material. The success of any Plan, in 
freeing India from want, rests with the people. The nation's 
mind has to be transformed. Her people's spirit must be 
awakened. The co-operation of every son and daughter of 
India is needed if the soil is to be made truly productive. 

Under the leadership of the Father of the Nation, India 
united in the struggle for independence from foreign domin- 
ation. But India is not free and never will be until with the 
same spirit of self-sacrifice her peoples unite in the war 
against want. When our vast population has been adequately 
fed and clothed, will be time enough to tackle the question 
of a higher standard of living. Indeed, the achievement of 
the one is a prelude to the achievement of the other. To see 

136 



LOOKING AHEAD 

that our cattle, sheep and goats have enough to eat and are 
not forced to wander about destroying our crops, our 
grazing areas and our young forests, that our best bulls and 
cows are used for breeding and the useless ones sterihzed, 
will be the first step towards providing really first rate 
milch cattle, and so seeing that every household in the 
country has enough mille and butter to consume. When we 
have increased our wool and cotton production by 50 per 
cent, will be time enough to talk of having clothing for all. 
The possession of trees in number sufficient to attrået rain 
and prevent erosion, and also to provide wood for fuel and 
for better houses and furniture, will in itself constitute an 
appreciable advance in standards of living. More bicycles, 
more radios, more motor-cars and more refrigerators, will 
all follow in the course of time; and very quickly once so 
much has been produced that there is an exportable surplus 
with which the country can buy them. 

Many attempts have been made in the past half century 
to raise the standard of living of the rural masses. Brayne's 
efforts in South Punjab succeeded only af ter he had become 
head of a district and was able to impose his ideas on the 
farmers with whom he came into contact. When he left, the 
farmers seemed to lose whatever interest he had aroused in 
better ventilated houses and in the many other amenities 
which formed the objectives of his project. Other visionaries 
have attempted the same thing, and so long as they are on 
the spot it seems to work well enough. But in nearly all 
cases it is putting the cart before the horse and, because it 
makes him little or no better off fmancially, the farmer is 
not really interested in spending any of his savings on 
better housing. Double the farmer's yields, save his fieids 
from erosion and his crops from pests, get him a fair price 
for his produce by means of co-operative marketing and get 
him his necessities at reasonable prices through co-operative 
buying, and he will be more ready to fall in with plans for 
improved housing, educational facilities and the various 
other schemes to make his lot a happier one. 

Joint Effort 

One of the most hopeful signs of the times here in India 
is that there are thousands of men and women, young and 

137 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

old, who are prepared to give up some of their leisure for 
service to their motherland. On Republic Day, the 26th 
of January 1953, manpower in the State of Uttar Pradesh 
was mobilized in 36,000 villages, or about a third of the 
total number of villages in the State. The chief object was 
to make roads to improve rural Communications ; but it also 
set a wonderful example to the whole country. What was 
achieved in one village, Bhagwanpur, of 2,500 inhabitants, 
in the district of Saharanpur is worth relating. The villagers 
formed themselves into a small Land Army unit. In ten 
days they set up 2 buildings, constructed 440 yards of road 
22 feet wide and 1\ feet high, constructed another half mile 
of road with 3 culverts and a village hall. They repaired or 
dug several wells, soakage pits and compost pits, removed 
and utilized 200 manure heaps, repaired and cleaned 500 
yards of drain; bored and constructed several latrines and 
cleaned and repaired all the lånes in the village. Here was 
work of real national utility. The spirit in which it was done 
is the spirit it is possible to instil in all the villages of India. 
If the young students of our universities and schools were 
to unite in helping to organize units such as this, the future 
of an effective Land Army in India would be assured and 
the battle against want would have been started in earnest. 
For, once an embryonic Land Army has begun to function, 
it is to be hoped that the patriotic spirit of selfless service 
will spread. There are, from present indications, millions of 
volunteers available for service throughout India, and the 
question of training and directing this formidable force into 
those channels where it is most urgently needed, is one 
which requires the most careful thought. Constructing un- 
metalled village roads, cleaning up villages and construct- 
ing new buildings are all commendable activities, but in 
themselves will have little direct effect on increased produc- 
tion of food. The Central and state governments would 
therefore do well to consider some form of organized train- 
ing, to be carried on concurrently with any other activity 
in which the Land Army may for the time being be engaged. 
Elsewhere in this discussion, the desirability of organizing 
training centres or camps and of making a rough survey of 
the needs of each area, before commencing work thereon, 
has been emphasized. In addition to this, immediate atten- 

138 



LOOKING AHEAD 

tion must be paid to propagating the values of higher pro- 
duction to all volunteers. All educational institutions, from 
village primary school to the degree college, must commence 
giving students a clear and visual idea of all that higher 
agricultural production implies, and it should not be difncult 
to incorporate the subject into existing curricula. 

Training for the Land 

Every educational institution, no matter how small, has 
a few square yards of land attached to it. Some have several 
acres. To begin with, let each institution set aside a minimum 
of 10 square yards — 5 X 2 — for the visual demonstration 
of what happens to a cereal crop like wheat, rice or barley 
when given a good seed-bed, plenty of manure and plenty 
of water. Two plots, each about 5 square yards in area and 
separated from each other by a yard or so, should be dug 
up, manured, sown and watered and fmally harvested and 
threshed by the students. One plot would be given an 
average dose of manure, bulky compost or cattle-dung, and 
fertilizer, and the other would get a calculated extra heavy 
dose of sulphate of ammonia, and double that dose of 
superphosphate (P 2 5 ) , together with a basal dressing of 
bulky manure. The local agricultural expert could work out 
the actual quantities required for the most spectacular 
results. The plots would be so small that the cost of raising 
the cereal crop thereon would be negligible. The student's 
interest would be freshly aroused at each stage of the pio- 
cess of cultivation. The size of each plot being roughly 
l/1000th of an acre, comparisons would be made easy — 4-84 
square yards being exactly equal to a thousandth of an 
acre. The unusually heavy crop of cereal obtained by the 
heavy dosage of manure and fertilizer would be a sight to 
convince the student of its value when appHed over many 
acres. The local agricultural expert should visit the institu- 
tion from time to time and explain the implications of this 
cheap and simple process of heavy manuring and how 
organic manure can be augmented. If night soil from the 
school or college latrine is used, the double achievement of 
securing bulky organic manure of high fertilizing value and 
gradually removing prejudice against handling it af ter the 
normal period of pitting, wiU be served. For institutions 

139 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

which can afford a more elaborate demonstration, several 

such plots, each having a different food crop growing on it, 

will provide even greater interest and incentive. Gradually, 

as circumstances perniit, other visual aids to understanding 

the problems confronting the country can be included in the 

project. For example, simple methods of preventing soil 

erosion; of growing subsidiary food crops like potatoes, 

sweet potatoes, tapioca, colocasia and so forth, with and 

without extra heavy manuring; utilizing green weeds and 

other rubbish for making compost ; improving waste land 

by planting trees, and reclaiming alkaline land, can all be 

demonstrated without making the curricula too cumbersome. 

Pamphlets written in simple language, explaining these 

problems and showing how they can be solved with the 

help of voluntary service, should be made available in 

schools, colleges and in all rural and town libraries; talks 

by knowledgeable and enthusiastic leaders, given from time 

to time at all educational institutions, especially in the rural 

areas, will help the cause; the cinema, the radio and the 

stage should be used frequently and engagingly. In colleges 

and universities, in clubs and social welf are societies, debates, 

lectures and discussions should be organized on such subjects 

as: Is it right that prejudice against handling night soil 

should prevent India growing enough food for her underfed 

people? Should sterilization of useless cattle be enforced? 

How far can either artificial insemination or sterilization of 

unfit livestock meet the country's need for better milch 

and draft cattle? The list could be made a comprehensive 

one by the inclusion of subjects such as the sterilization of 

persons who can only produce diseased or mentally deformed 

progeny, an argument that found favour in certain parts 

of the world not so long ago; for such subjects of social and 

economic interest as family planning, which directly concern 

the nation's responsibility to present and future generations, 

should be discussed more frequently and from the highest 

intellectual platforms in the land. 

Closer and more friendly contact between the more edu- 
cated people of the cities and their less fortunate brethren 
in the villages is urgently needed, if scientific knowledge is 
ever to reach the masses. The Indian villager is by nature 
a hospitable and kindly person. The townsman need not fear 

140 



LOOKING AHEÅD 

that he will be unwelcome in the village if he goes there 
for the purpose of informal lectures and friendly talks. So 
very much can be done by this sort of contact that snob- 
bishness on the part of the townsman is unforgivable, as 
it will destroy the respect and trust of the other. 

What of the numerous agricultural schools and colleges 
that have sprang up so rapidly within the past forty or 
fif ty years? If the syllabus of courses of the majority ot 
these institutions is scrutinized, it will be found that far too 
little time is left for praclical instruction in farming. Such 
subjects as chemistry, physics, botany, zoology, entomology, 
plant pathology and veterinary science seem to get more 
than their fair share of attention. The result is that 
graduates or diplomats from these piaces of instruction 
are rarely properly equipped for leadership in the struggle 
for self-sufficiency in food. Either too much emphasis is on 
the basic scienccs, or the practical instruction is faulty or 
it may be that the ambition of the student is too narrow. 
Whatever the cause may be, it is high time that it was 
eliminated ; and, in this connexion, the Report of the Agri- 
cultural Reorganization Committee of the United Provinces 
(1938-9) will be found to contain much wisdom and many 
useful suggestions for overhauling the present system of 
agricultural education in India. The Report deals, among 
other things, with the all-important question of giving 
education in rural areas an agricultural bias from the very 
start. It also discusses in detail what might be called 
a sound syllabus of courses for agricultural schools and 
colleges. 

Land Schools 

Recently, in one State at least, the idea of starting a 
chain of Land Schools for the sons and dependents of the 
ex-servicemen who fought in World War II, has taken 
root. The main purpose is apparently to train these boys 
to like agriculture for itself rather than to pass examinations 
for the sole purpose of securing a job. No young man will 
be attracted to a profession which does not pay : It follows 
therefore that to make farming attractive as a profession, 
the youthful entrants to these Land Schools must be shown 
how very paying the art of farming can be. For they have 

141 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

to imbibe the science and art of the profession as part of 
themselves, and this they will do only if it is proved to their 
satisf action that they can make a good living out of it. 
With the high prices that agricultural produce can at 
present fetch, there is no question but that farming can and 
does pay handsomely, if practiced with common sense and 
the necessary practical knowledge. It is this ftractical know- 
ledge that must be imparted in all agricultural schools as 
thoroughly as possible. For theory, lectures for an hour or 
two hours a day only should suffice, and this will enable 
the student to devote practically all his time to field opera- 
tions. The school farm must have livestock, and the students, 
who must do all operations with their own hånds, should 
experience each of the activities of a normal working day. 
All good farmers rise very early to attend to the cleaning 
of cattle sheds, milking and feeding of cows and buffaloes, 
and at some seasons they commence ploughing while the 
ground is still wet with dew. Land School students must 
start work at dawn and stop at dusk, with a break during 
the day for the midday meal and rest. They should break- 
fast in the helds while at work, as most good farmers do, 
so that there is no unnecessary loss of time. The school farm 
should be divided into plots of iive or six acres, each cor- 
responding to the unit most easily managed with a pair of 
average bullocks under intensive-farming conditions. Each 
unit should be amply irrigated, and should be farmed by a 
group of boys, the number being determined by the size of 
the unit. At Anand in Bombay State there is a privately 
run agricultural institute where the unit is 5 acres and each 
unit is managed by a group of 5 boys who are said to make 
an average income between them of Rs 250 (about £19) a' 
month by farming it. For Indian conditions this is a fair 
income; but considerably higher incomes could be earned 
from each unit with the adoption of really intensive methods, 
examples of which could be taken from the phenomenal 
yields of wheat, rice, maize, gram, potatoes and millet 
obtained by entrants in the crop competitions held in recent 
years by the Indian Government. 

If our Land Schools and other agricultural institutions 
wish to make a really good impression on the minds of 
young farmers and of older and more experienced men in 

142 



LOOKING AHEAD 

the profession, they must produce these substantial yields. 
Competitions should be held and handsome prizes given to 
groups producing the best results; and the competitors 
should study the methods employed by prize-winners in the 
all-India crop competitions. Those applicable to the area 
should be adopted ; the cost to be met by loan to the stud- 
ents, reco verable from the proceeds of sale of their crops. 
For example, an acre of wheat yielding 5,000 Ib. of grain 
and 8,000 Ib. of bhtisa or trampled straw, valued greatly 
as a bulky feed for work and milch cattle, would represent 
roughly the following gross income : 

5,000 Ib. of wheat at Rs 21 per 
100 1b Rs 1,050 

8,000 lb.of bhusa at Rs 4 per 
100 1b , 320 



Total . . Rs 1,370 per acre 
(These yields are less than the highest actually secured 
in the Indian crop competitions.) 

Against this income must be set off expenditure on fertilizer, 
bulky manure and the time spent on field operations. In 
actual cash this may be as high as Rs 500, depending on the 
cost of fertilizer and bulky manure, all labour of course 
being supplied by the students themselves. 

In the case of potatoes, by deeply ploughing the land and 
applying very heavy doses of both bulky organic manure 
and commercial fertilizer, it should be quite possible to 
obtain a yield of 500 maunds (41,000 Ib.) per acre. At the 
average price of Rs 6 per maund usually prevailing at har- 
vest, gross receipts would be Rs 3,000 from one acre. Ex- 
penditure on the main items of seed, bulky manure and 
fertilizers may, in this case, be as high as Rs 1,400; but 
even so the students, af ter allowing for labour and cultivation 
costs, would be left with a handsome net profit. The same 
applies to sweet potatoes and other cash crops which are 
also subsidiary foods. It is therefore worthwhile setting out 
to secure the highest yield per acre for all crops grown ; only 
then will young people realize the prospect of earning a 
substantial Irving from farming and of assisting the national 
cause in the process. 

143 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

The courses of instruction in Land Schools should include 
only the essential minimum of scientific training : Practical 
agriculture must take priority over all other work. A good 
library would be a great asset to an institution of this kind ; 
for an hour a day spent in regulated and controlled study 
under a competent teacher is, as a rule, worth much more 
than the time spent in the lecture room. Practical training 
in the following must form part of the syllabus: artificial 
insemination; immunization of cattle against such serious 
diseases as rinderpest ; sterilization of useless cattle ; methods 
of fighting crop diseases and crop pests; the use of soil 
conditioners such as ' Krilium ' in reclaiming and improving 
soil, and of soil-binders in checking erosion; the kind of 
trees that do well as wind-breaks and those which thrive 
under dry conditions ; desert control ; the mixing and applica- 
tion of the different kinds of chemical fertilizer; the value 
of modem farm implements and machinery, their adjustment, 
care and use; fruit and vegetable farming; controlled 
grazing and the value of legumes as cattle-feed ; the place 
of oilseeds and fibres in Indian farming; dry farming and 
methods of controlling and conserving run-off rainwater ; 
the care of milch and work cattle ; crop rotations. 

The general purpose farm of the institution should have 
a small but competently run fruit and vegetable plot. On 
this plot should be taught the practical aspects of horti- 
culture and, in particular, such matters as raising nurseries 
and grafts, and utilizing the space between rows of fruit 
trees for vegetables, until the trees grow so tall that vegetable 
culture on the same land is no longer possible. Seed selection 
and storage for all crops should be part of the practical 
course, and underground and surface cement storehouses of 
dimensions to suit village conditions, should be constructed. 

Co-OPERATION 

Two subjects of the greatest importance to the develop- 
ment of our rural economy and to neither of which has 
sufficient attention been paid so far, are those of co-operative 
credit in particular and of rural co-operative effort in gen- 
eral. Professor H. L. Kaji has made the following observa- 
tion on the subjéct, one which is very much to the point : 
' Co-operation has so long been a protest against exploita- 

144 



LOOKING AHEAD 

tion, an attempt at the elimination of unnecessary middle- 
men between producers and consumers, an efEort to improve 
the economic condition of the small men in urban and 
rural areas. But it has not been tried as the economic struc- 
ture of society. ' To anyone acquainted with marketing 
conditions in rural India it will be obvious that the rirst 
and most urgent step is to organize growers' co-operatives on 
the lines of the sugarcane growers' in Uttar Pradesh during 
World War II. 

Many further instructive examples could be quoted from 
the experience of other countries in developing co-operative 
activities in rural areas. A striking example of governmental 
initiative in inaugurating a scheme to benefit unemployed 
persons with agricultural experience and some capital of 
their own, is to be found in The Land Settlement Associa- 
tion Limited of England whose headquarters are at 43, 
Cromwell Road, London S.W.7. This Association was formed 
during the depression of 1934 for the purpose of buying 
estates and laying them out as small holdings. Most of the 
capital required was advanced by the Government, but some 
was contributed by the Carnegie Trust and by private 
individuals. In this scheme shareholders are not permitted 
to earn profits, but each holding is 'designed to provide a 
good living for a capable tenant', the size of the holdings 
being from 2 to 10 acres. In 1952 there were 19 developed 
estates belonging to the Association, each consisting of a 
group of small holdings, the largest of over 100. 

Bulk trading, buying and selling for the tenants on each 
estate, is organized centrally by the Association. The tenants 
are charged reasonable current rates for the services rendered 
to each of them. ' It is a condition of tenancy that all tenants 
co-operate in these arrangements in order to ensure economic 
working.' Thus a great volume of business passes between 
the Association and its tenants who are paid the proceeds 
of the produce marketed on their behalf by the Association, 
The tenants in their turn pay for the supply of their day- 
to-day requirements of manures, seeds, equipment, tools, 
etc. 'Accounts for all these transactions are presented to 
the tenants and a net settlement is made once a month.' 
The Association does not interfere unduly with the tenant 
in the farming of his holding, although the tenant is bound 

145 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

by agreement 'to conform to a general plan of production 
in respect of the cropping and stocking of the holding'. 

The tenants have formed a national association with 
branches on nearly every estate. There are regular consulta- 
tions between the management and the representatives of 
the tenants 'on all matters affecting the tenant's interests'. 

The amount of capital required to take over and work a 
holding varies between £1,400 and £1,800, but the Ministry 
of Agriculture and Fisheries, which owns the holdings, lends 
on easy repayment terms and at reasonable rates of interest 
up to three quarters of the capital required. 

The writer had occasion in 1946 to visit one of the estates 
of this Association at Fen Drayton in Cambridgeshire. This 
estate was at that time divided into two parts, (i) 230 acres 
settled with tenants holding 3 to 5 acres each and (ii) 70 
acres of the poorest land farmed by the management whose 
salaries were met from the profits of farming it. All the 
tenants, mostly unemployed ex-soldiers, had some previous 
experience of farming. Their holdings were very intensively 
farmed, green vegetables, potatoes and onions being the 
chief crops grown — some being raised under glass. Each 
tenant was required to maintain some livestock. The hold- 
ings being too small for dairy cattle, the livestock consisted 
mostly of goats, pigs and poultry. Between 1939 and 1945 
the value of the tenants' holdings rose from £11,000 to 
£78,000. The weight of the output in the same period 
increased 3 to 4 times. 

The tenants got the grower's price for their output with- 
out having to take their produce to the market. The manage- 
ment made a nominal charge for transport, containers etc. 
This was not a direct charge but was taken from the profit 
made on stores supplied to tenants and on packing-shed 
transactions. The marketing costs for neighbouring non- 
member farmers was 14 to 20 per cent as against 7 per cent 
for tenants of the Association whose produce was always 
in demand and fetched better prices because it was graded. 
This 7 per cent covered grading, packing, carriage and over- 
heads. Depreciation on packing cases, sacks, trucks etc. was 
charged to profits on stores. The tenant members had no 
packing cases or sacks to bother about because they got 
these on loan from the Association. 

146 



LOOKING AHEAD 

The houses provided for the lenants werc comfortable, 
containing four main rooms each and all modern facilities. 
The occupants seemed contcnded and prosperous. The 
equipment maintained by the management included several 
tractors which were nsed for all major cultivation. The 
ploughing charge in 1946 was 10 shillings an hour, which 
worked out at about Rs 13 per acre. Seed-drills, cabbage 
transplanters, potato diggers and rubber-tyred carts were 
among the equipment available to the tenants. The cabbage 
planters were capable of transplanting five acres of seedlings 
in one and three quarter days. This is much quicker than 
hånd planting, and it is also more effective in that the roots 
are kept straight and the piants get a bctter start. The 
tenants utilized some of their spare time in making compost 
from vegetable and animal waste matter. 

The Fen Drayton Scheme is a striking example of the 
success of co-operative principles carried out on the initia- 
tive of a government for the benefit of the unemployed. It 
has much to teach administrators, extension services and, 
especially, the young and enthusiastic students of land 
schools and agricultural colleges in India. Training on an 
estate such as this should prove of value to teachers and 
others intcrested in rcsettlement and the simultaneous 
development of those large tracts of land which are at pre- 
sent eithcr underdeveloped or undeveloped. The significance 
of this experiment is not only for India, but for the whole 
of South-east Asia. The difference between a co-operative 
society of small-holders and the Fen Drayton estate managed 
by a State-aided organization lics only in the faet that the 
affairs of the latter are run by a limited company under the 
guidance of a government. Under rural conditions in India 
at present pertaining, to expect groups of a hundred or more 
tenants to run successfully a co-operative farming concern 
by themselves is to expect a miracle. But aided by expert 
knowledge and supervision, funds and management, provided 
by a wise government, there is every chance not only 
of profitable farming but of developing and transforming 
pockets of undeveloped or underdeveloped land throughout 
the country. 

Acharya Vinoba Bhave, a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, has 
for some time been louring the country securing voluntary 

147 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

gifts of land from those who possess more than they need, 
in order to provide land for unemployed and landless 
labour. His efforts have so far met with a certain amount 
of success; but once this movement, known as 'Bhoodan 
Yagna', has secured gifts amounting to millions of acres, 
as it is quite likely to do, the question on everyone's lips 
will be ' What next? '. The answer is supplied by the success- 
ful working of organizations such as the Fen Drayton estate, 
and it would be wrong to say that conditions in rural 
England are so different from those in Asia that emulation is 
useless. The initiative must, in the first instance, be taken 
by the State. The framers of the Indian Five-Year Plan 
should study carefully the organization and working of the 
Land Settlement Association Ltd, for it is possible that 
more good would come from a scheme such as this 
than from all the present rural development projects put 
together. 

There are today 173,000 co-operative societies in the 
country with a membership of 12 millions and a working 
capital of Rs 233 crores (about £175 millions) ; but how 
many can be said to work as efficiently as the estate 
described above? It is not the number of co-operatives, but 
the efhciency with which they work, that will count in the 
future. A Land Development Corporation such as that visua- 
lized in chapter eleven would be a model training centre for 
co-operatives of the Fen Drayton type. Only when co-opera- 
tives of quality have been started can their value become 
apparent to trainees, and inspire in them the ambition to see 
a co-operative movement transforming the rural economy of 
the entire Indian sub-continent : For it is only by the efforts 
pf those who realize the value of it will the movement thrive ; 
not by the abortive activities of window dressers of whom 
there are far too many. Here is what the Indian delegation to 
Palestine had to say on the lesson co-operative farming in that 
country has for India : ' Apart from the farmer and his land 
and capital resources, the most important factor which would 
determine the extent of success or failure in co-operative 
farming and marketing would be the public or governmental 
agency entrusted with this work. No amount of expenditure 
would assist if officers and others in charge of this task aet 
in a mercenary manner. Every one of them must take this 

148 



LOOKING AHEAD 

as their life's mission to be performed for the good of the 
country with the greatest possible zeal and honest effort. ' 

CO-OPERATIVE CREDIT 

So far as credit is concerned, the Reserve Bank of India 
can lend money to scheduled or co-operative banks, but 
not to the grower direct. The farmer has therefore to borrow 
from the co-operative banks; but as an individual he has 
little or no security to offer. Organize the small farmers into 
co-operatives of the Fen Drayton type and you have an 
organization to which any bank would be glad to lend money 
on reasonable terms. There are at present three kinds of 
loan: short-, medium- and long-term. Of these, short-term 
credit is most in demand and happens to be the most effec- 
tive in bringing quick results by incrcased production, in 
farming and in cottage industries. It is to be hoped that the 
Bill, now before Parliament, to amend the Reserve Bank of 
India will be so revised as to treat cottage industries and 
agriculture more or less equally in the matter of credit. For 
the growth of India's economic strength in the years im- 
mediately following the attainment of self-sufficiency in food 
will depend very largely on how wisely industry is decentral- 
ized. That cottage industries can play an important part in 
national economic development is amply evident from the 
experience of other countries, especially Switzerland, where 
the world-famous watch industry is organized on these lines ; 
workers in rural areas making the various parts of the 
watches which are then assembled at the industry's various 
urban headquarters. 

At present, out of India's vast population, less than 3 
million persons are employed in industry. In our dry-f arming 
belts, farmers have ample time to engage in cottage in- 
dustries. One of our greatest national assets, abundant man- 
power, has not yet been organized, although mobilization 
of a small part of it for certain aspects of rural development 
has now begun, and this is all to the good. But if any large 
section of society is idle for long periods, it is bound to 
have undesirable effects on the national economy and, 
in our case, scores of millions of people are available 
for mobilization and await training, equipment and 
organization. 

149 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

Inflationary prices have created a certain amount of 
capital, not perhaps with the small farmers, but certainly 
with the larger farmers who grow cash crops, with village 
bankers or money-lenders, and with the numerous artisans 
such as village blacksmiths, Carpenters, oil extractors and 
others. For co-operative sodedes in rural areas, therefore, 
capital should be forthcoming in the first instance from the 
village itself. Once a society has been properly organized, 
co-operative banks will supply all the capital needed for the 
development of cottage industries and for supplies and co- 
operative marketing. The first step is, however, for the 
State to instil a feeling of security and confidence in the 
minds of prospective members and to provide an effkient 
system of guidance and supervision by selfless workers. For 
village co-operative credit societies, the State must, there- 
fore, in the initial stages of their formation, stand surety 
for money advanced to them by banks. It must boldly de- 
clare that in the event of a village co-operative credit society 
going into liquidation, it will immediately pay off the cred- 
itors before taking action against defaulting members. Once 
confidence has been so created, the necessity of the State 
fulfilling such a declared obligation will seldom, if ever, 
arise. In each district there should be one central co-operative 
bank with adequate working and owned capital, branches 
of which can always be opened where and when they are 
required. A stringent audit of the accounts of rural credit 
societies is most necessary, and the management of the 
central banks and of their branches must on no account be 
infiuenced by non-rural interests. Someone has very wisely 
said that politicians in power who say that co-operation is 
above politics should also see to it that in actual practice 
nobody plays politics with its policy or personnel. 

Seed Supply 

One held of activity in which co-operative effort has been 
entirely absent in the past is in supplying certified seeds of 
a superior quality and purity to farmers throughout the 
country. Reliable seed farmers are the exception rather than 
the rule. The present system under which the State has 
undertaken seed supply, has failed to provide the farmer 
with anything like adequate supplies and has cost an 

150 



LO OKI N G AHEAD 

enormous sum of money in maintaining seed stores and the 
necessary staff to run them. In othcr countries the farmer 
seldom has any difficulty in securing his seed from private 
agendes which do a flourishing tråde in growing and supply- 
ing certified seed. In Lubbock, Texas, the writer, in 19dG, 
came across a farmer who was selling certified seed barley 
at 7^ cents a pound against the market price of 3 cents a 
pound for ordinary uncertificd seed. Other farmers seemed 
glad enough to buy really good seed at tilis premium price 
which was 150 per cent higher than the price of ordinary 
seed. State Agricultural Departments in India would do 
well to organizc selected farmers into registered co-operatives 
for the express purpose of growing and supplying superior 
quality seed to farmers of the neighbourhood. Capital would 
be needed to build seed depots and to bear the initial cost 
of running the business, but the premium charged for the 
superior seed should more than cover this ; for superior seed 
generally accounts for an inercase in yield of from 1 5 to 20 per 
cent in the case of cereals and more in the case of such cash 
crops as sugarcane, tobacco, cotton and potatoes. 

Is it too much to expect that the present generation 
devote some of ils time and energy to organizing rural co- 
operatives? Many of us have welcomed the Five-Year Plan 
and have resolved to do our utmost to make it a success. 
Here is what the framers of that Plan have to say about 
co-operation : ' When individualism was the order of the day, 
co-operation represented a defensive aet. But with the adop- 
tion of the principle of social regulation, co-operative socie- 
ties have a more positive role. In a regime of planned 
development, co-operation is an instrument which, while 
retaining some of the advantages of decentralization and 
local initiative, will yet serve willingly and readily the over- 
all purposes and directives of the Plan.' The value of co- 
operation has not yet been fully grasped in India: It is 
essential that it should be grasped, and without delay. 

And not only have we to help make the Five-Year Plan 
a success, we have to do more than that ; We have to make 
India prosperous by producing enough to export. That this 
can be achieved there is no doubt, provided there are enough 
men and women who are prepared to work selflessly to this 
end. Well organized village co-operatives are going to play 

151 



BETWEEN US AND HUNGER 

a very important part, for 'only in co-operation is there any 
real hope for peace, contentment and happiness. Co-opera- 
tion welcomes the capitalist, though it eschews capitalism; 
co-operation welcomes labour and rccognizes its just claims, 
but rejects its attempt at domination; co-operation 
welcomes the consumer and concedes his rights, but 
rejects efforts to exploit the worker in productive 
enterprises. Justice, equity and fair play are the hall mark 
of co-operation. ' 



THE BEGINNING 



INDEX 



Acacia (babnnl), a wind-break, 74 
Acharya Vinoba Bhave, 14.7-8 
Acts: consolidation ol holdings, 

39-41 

compulsory oomposting of reluse, 
21-2 

Assam Panchayat Aet, 1948, 40 

Bihar and Orissa Municipal Aet, 
1949, 22 

Bombay Prevention of Frag- 
mentation Aet No. 62, 39 

C. P. and Berar Municipalitics 
Aet, 1949, 22 

Consolidation Aet of 1781, Den- 
mark, 41 

East Punjab Conservation of 
Manure Aet, 1949, 22 

East Punjab Holdings Aet No. 50, 
39 

Ireland, Land Aet of 1923, 42 

Madhya Bharat Municipal Refuse 
Aet, 19S0, 22 

Punjab Municipal Aet, 1949, 22 

Sugar Factories Control Aet, 
1938, 133 

Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Aboli- 
tion Aet, 1952, 40 

(see also Eegislation) 
Aflorestation, 16-17, 74-5, 82-4, 130 
Agarwal (R. R.), and Mehrotra 

(C. L.), 102 
Agra, encroachment of desert on, 19 
Agricultural colleges and schools, 

141-4 
Agricultural Extcnsion Services, 

123-35 
Agricultural Research, Indian 

Council of, 59 
Ajmer, number of plots per holding, 

39 
Alabama (U.S.A.), nse of hudzu in 

State of, 56 
Alkalinity, 48-53 
Allahabad Agricultural Institute, 

61, 64 
Almora, worlc on hudzu in, 56 
American Technical and Economic 

Aid, 131 
Ammonium sulphate, 27, 69 
Anand Institute of Agriculture, 142 
Annapurna food drive, 100 
Ants, damage done by, 9-10 
Årbar, in rotation, 67 

for demarcatiug usar patches, 50 



Asbes, from brick-kilns, 27 

conservation of, 26 
Ashram (Wardha), method of con- 

serving night soil, 21 
Assam, bird pests of, 36 

high rainfall of, 77 

Panchayat Aet of 1948, 40 

Juabaol trees and alkali soils, 52 
Baisurai (a weed), 19 
Bajra, highest yields of, 91 

response to nitrogen and phos- 

phates, 103 
Bandhis (very small bandhs), 87 
Bcmdhs (dams), 86 
Barley, response to nitrogen and 

phosphates, 103 
Bcnch terracing, 16-18, 78, 82-4 
Beri (a swing basket), 84 
Bhagwanpur, voluntary effort of, 

138 
Bhave, Acharya Vinoba, 147-8 
Bhoodan Yagna movement, 148 
Blmmidari (proprietary rights), 132 
Bhusa, 109-11, 143 
Bihar (East), rainfall of, 77 
Bihar Municipal Bill, 1949, 21 
Birds, damage done to crops by, 

11, 36-C 

as a check on insects, 35 
Boar (wild), a pest, 6, 12, 33-4 
Bombay Prevention of Fragmenta- 
tion Aet No. 62, 39 
Bones, wastage and utilization of, 

8, 30 
Brayne (F. L.), work on rural uplift, 

137 
Brick-kiln ash, as manure, 101 
Bristles for brushware industry, 34 
Broad-based terracing, 17-18, 83-4 
Bukhar (a blade harrow), 65 
Bulk manure (see Manure and 

Fertilizer) 
Bullock- or pony-gears, 120 
Bnllocks, nse of, 107-23 
Bnrma, imports of rice from, 5 

Cjabbages, response to fertilizer 

of, 99 
Canada, comparative wheat yields, 

2 
Carcases, value of as fertilizer, 26 
Cattle, artificial insemination of, 

28, 30-31 

153 



I'NDEX 



Cattle, slanghter of, 29 

popularity of Indian breeds, 28 
problem o£ surplus, 28-30 

problems of feeding, 28 

segregation of, 29-31 

useless, 5, 29-31 
Census, 1951 (India), 1 
Central Tractor Organization, 48 
Charas, a water-lifting device, 84-5 
Chatterton, Sir Alfred, 2 
China, higli yields of ricc in, 8-9 

mulching in, 75-6 

use of sewage in, 24 
Colombo Plan, The, 17, 24 
Community projects, 106 
Competitions, crop, 90-91 
Compost, 25-6, 30 
Consolidation : Assam Panchayat 

Aet, 1948, 40 

Bombay Prevention of Frag- 
mentation Aet No. 62, 39 

Consolidation Aet of 1781, Den- 
mark, 41 

East Punjab Holdings Aet No. 50, 
39 

economios of, 37-9 

experience of other countries in, 
41-4 

history of, 39-44 

Irelaud, Land Aet of 1923, 42 

of holdings, 37-44 

Royal Commission, views of, 44 

Swiss Civil Code, 1912, 41 

Uttar Pradesli Zamindari Aboli- 
tion Aet, 1952, 40 
Co-operativas, 85, 94, 117-18, 121-2, 

132-5, 144-52 
C-R-D 186, soil conditiouer, 105-06 
Crops, rotation of, 66-8 
Crows, as crop pests, 35 

JJaulbandhi, against sheet erosion, 

14-16, 18 

conserving moisture by, 81-2 
Denmark, Consolidation Aet of 

1781, 41-2 
Desi plough, the, 118-19 
Dhaincha, as green manure, 5] 
Dhar, Dr N. R„ 50 

and Mukerji (S.K.), 50 
Dhehul (water-lifting device), 84 
Disc harrowing, 109-10 
District officials, co-operation 

among, 123-6 
Drainage, 78 
Dry Farming, 59-76 

Indian Council of Agricullural 
Research and, 59 
Dub grass, for controlled grazing, 20 
Dwyf's co-operative farm, 131 

154 



Earth, crugt of, 79-81 

Earthworms, 100 

East Punjab Holdings Aet No. 50, 

39 

Conservation of Manure Aet, 
1949, 22 
Egypt, comparative crop yields of, 2 
Elephant, a crop pest, 34-5 
Erosion, 3, 7, 14-20 

grasses used in prevention of, 
19-20 

weeds used in prevention of, 1!) 
Evaporation reduced by inter- 

culture, 63 
Excreta (human), conservation 

of, 21, 24 
Extension Services, Agricnltural, 

123-35 

JTactory areas, sugarcane co- 

operatives in, 133-5 
Farming under rainfed conditions, 

59-60 
Faulkener : Plowman's Folly, 94 

and soil erosion, 94 

School (U.S.A.), 94 
Fen Drayton (England), scherne 

of land settlement, 146-7 
Fertilizer, ammonium sulphate as, 

69 

effect on quality of cereals of, 
25, 97-100 

lnethods of conservation in foreign 
countries, 23-4 

organic waste material as, 8-9, 
23-7, 30, 34, 69-71 

response of soils to, 91-2, 102-05 

tank silt as, 25 

use in dry farming, 68-73 

use in leaching, 54 
Fish, as fertilizer, 101-02 
Five-Year Plan, The (Indian), 9, 

24, 47-8, 59, 86-7, 90, 102, 121-2, 

136 
Flood, the answer to, 16-17, 83 
Florida (U.S.A.), Indian cattle in, 28 
Food, imports of, 4 

wastage of, 12-13 
Food and Agriculture Organization, 

ou world outlook, 2 

on consolidation, 38 
Forests, development of, 130 
Fragmentation, evil of, 37-44 
France, legislation on consolidation 

in, 42 

Graoshalas, 30-31 

Ghair Mumhin (unculturablo waste 
land), 51 



INDEX 



Giant Star grass, 57 

Gram Sabhas (local committees), 

128 
Grazing, reasons for poor condition 

of, 19-21 

snggested improvcment ol, 54-7 
Grcat Britain : avcrage yield of 

wheal in, 2 

Fen Draylon land settlement 
scheme, 146-7 

Kent, rainfall ot, 77 

Land Settlement Association, 
145-7 

Rothamstcad Experimental Sta- 
tion, 100 
Grow More Food campaign, poor 

results of, 123 
Gnav, a legnme, 71 
Gully plugging, 1 7 

Xiawaii, avcrage yield of sugar- 

cane in, 2 

papcr mulches in, 70 
Heath Companic, Nethcrlands, 117, 

130-32 
Holdings, consolidation of, 37-44 
Holland, land developmont in, 117, 

130-3!i 
Humus, definition and effects of, 

104 
Hnsain (M.A.), ou damage by rats, 

10 
Hyderabad State Refuso Ordinanee, 

22 

Implements, farm: bukkar (blade 

harrow), 65 

desi (plough), 118-19 

harrow, 110 

karha (metal scoop), 121 

mechanization of, 107-22 

need for servicing oF, 20 

Persian Wheel, 85-6, 120 

State as supplier of, 94-5 

use of impioved, 118-20 

useful under rainfed couditions, 
01-0 
Imports, food, 4 
Indian Council of Agricultural 

Research, 50 
Indian Planuing Commission, 23 
Insemination (artificial), of cattle, 

28, 30-31 
Intensive farming, economics of, 

90-94 

crop statistics, 91 
Interline culture, 63, 65-8, 70, 114 
Ireland, Land Aet of 1923, 42 
Irrigation: 7, 16-18, 26, 59-60, 78-89 

bandhis, 87 



the economic aspect, 86-8 
water-lifting devices, 84-6 
water-logging, 88-9 

J apan, aveiagc yields in, 2, 8-9 

paddy growing in, 96-7 

use oE fish as fertilizer in, 101-02 

use of scwage in, 24 
Java, average yield of sugareane 

in, 2 
Jhansi, erosion on golf course of, 57-8 
J harben, in anti-wind erosion work, 

19 

in reclamation of usar, 52 
Jutir, a monsoon-sown millet, 62, 

66-7,69-70 

liigh yields of, 91 

JXaji, Professor E-I. L., 144 
Kamdav, village official, 123-7 
Kamgar, village official, 123-7 
Kanhar, a carbonate of calcium, 51 
lians, a deep rooted weed, 19, 45, 

47-9, 52 
Kansas State College of Agriculture, 

94, 98-9 
Karha, a metal scoop, 120 
Kharif crops, 63, 67-9, 72, 111-12, 

114, 118 
Kilns, use of ashes from, 27 
Krilium, a soil conditioner, 105, 144 
Kudzu (a legume), in land reclama- 
tion, 56-7 
Kuththa (catechu), a forest product, 
57 

Lal, Dr K. B., 10-11 

Land Army, proposed, 12, 15, 17, 

26, 30, 39, 74, 127-30, 138 
Land Developmont Corporation, 

proposed, 88, 107-22, 130-32 
Land schools, 139-44 

Anan cl Institute of Agriculture, 
142 
Land Settlement Association 

(England), 145-7 
Land utilizalion statistics, 45 
Langoor (large monkey), dealing 

with, 32 
Legislation : Bihar Municipal Bill, 

1949, 21 

Hyderabad State Ttcfuse 
Ordinanee, 22 

Madhya Bharat Village Refuse 
Ordinanee, 1950, 22 

Madras TJistrict Municipaliti.es 
Bill, 1949, 22 

Swiss Civil Code, 1912, 41 

(see also ActB) 

155 



Legumes, as catcli crops, 71-2, 111 

Lentiis, CO, G7 

Lubbock (Texas, U.S.A.), premium 

on good seed in, 3 51 

use of town sewage in, 23 

Mackie, Professor W. W„ 58, 71 
Madhya Bharat Village Refuse 

Ordinance, 1950, 22 
Madhya Bharat Municipal (Con- 
version into Manure) Aet, 1950, 22 
Madhya Pradesb, paddy-growing 

in, 69 
Madras District Municipalitics Bill 

1949, 22 
Maize, response of to N" and P 8 6 , 

103 
Malarial areas, 8, 46-7, 131 
Mann, Dr H., 38 

Manure, caste problem in its collec- 
tion, 24 

(see also Fertilizer) 
Masonry wells, 78, 81 
Mechanization, 107-22 
Mhoth, a water-lifting device, 84-5 
Middlemen, 135 
Migration, voluntary, 43 
Monkeys, damage done to crops by, 
6, 31-2 
expoit of, 31 
use in research, 31 
Mosquitoes, 46-7 
Mukerji, Dr B. K., 49-50 
Mukkadatn, a village official, 123-7 
Mulching, 75-ti 
Munshi, K, M., 7, 130 

Netherlands Heath Companie 

(Holland), 117, 130-32 
Nilgae (blue cow), 32-3 
Nitrification, effect on soil of, 66-6, 

82 
Nitrogen, effect on cereals of, 103 

Olpad, a bullock-drawn thresher, 

61, 95 
Orchards (fruit), manuring of, 27, 

101 
Orissa, legislation on compost in, 22 

rainfall of, 69, 77 

Paddy growing, 96-7 

response to N and P a 6 of, 103 
Palestine, co-operative farming in, 

148-9 
Panchayat Raj Organization, 128 
Parr, C. H„ 60, 82-3 

156 



INDEX 

Parrets, dainage to cereal crops by, 

12 
Persian Wheel, the, 85-6, 120 
Pests, crop, 5-6, 9-12, 31-6 
Pioneer, The, 132-4 
Planning Commission (Indian), 23 

(see also Five-Year Plan) 
Ploughing, methods of, 17-18, 62-3 
Pony-gears, 120 
Population, growth of, 1-3, 7 
Poroupine (a crop pest), 34 
Potatoes, 91, 143 
Prantiya Rakshak Dal, 128 
Pruthi (H.S.). andHusain (M.A.),10 
Punjab Municipal Aet, 1949, 22 

(see also East Punjab) 



Quastel, J. II., 104-05 

Rabi crops, 71-3, 110-16, 118 
Rainfall: 77-89 

estimated yearly average, 77 

water-logging, 88-9 
Rajasthan, desert soils of, 60 
Rationing, food, 4 
Rats, damage done by, 10-11 

estimated number of, 10 

destru etion of, 11 
Reclamation (land), 45-58 

of shrub-covered and rocky land, 
57-8 

successful experiment in, 51-3 
Rice, high yields of , 91 

(see also China and Paddy) 
Rotation of crops, 66-8 
Rotliamstead Experimental Station 

(England), 100 

Salinity, 53-4 

Seed, methods of sowing, 63-6 

organization of supplies, 150-51 
Seed-dnlls, 63-5, 114-15, 119 
Segregation of cattle, 29-31 
Sewage, 23-4 

compulsory conservation of, 21-2 

(see also Fertilizer) 
' Shabash' plough, 64-5 
Sindri fertilizer factory, 27, 92 
Singh, Bishan Man, his experiments, 

51-3, 74 
Singh, Dr S. B., on dibbling seed, 73 
Soil, conditioning of, 93-106 

response to fertilizer of, 103 
Stamp, Professor Dudley, 1-2 
Sterilization of cattle, 29-31 
Strip cropping, 18-19 
Subsidies, food, 4 
Sugar Faotories Control Aet, 1938, 

133 



INDEX 

Sugarcane, 98-100, 132-4 

Sulphate ol Ammonia, as fertilizer, 

27, 69 
SuperphosjDhates, value of, 92, 97, 

99, 102-03 
Swiss Civil Code, 1912, 41 
Switzerland, consolidation in, 41 

Terracing, 16-18, 78, 82-4 
Thresliing, 110-11 
Throckmorton, E. I., 98 
Tractors in Indian agriculture, 

place of, 107-22 

Central Tractor Organisation, 48 
Treos, aff orestation, 16-17, 74-5, 

82-4, 130 

use as wind-breaks, 74-5 
Tube wells, 80-81 

Uniled Kingdom: average yield 

o£ wheat in, 2 

Fen Drayton, serierne of land 
settlement, 146-7 

Kent, rainfaZi ot, 77 

Land Settlement Association, 
145-7 

Rothamstead Experimental Sta- 
tion, 100 
United Nations Survey of 1951-2, 

136 
United States of America : Alabama, 

usc of hudzu in State of, 50 

American Technioal and 

Economie Aid, 131 

Faulkener School, 94 

Florida, Indian cattlc in, 28 

Kansas State College of Agricul- 
ture, 94, 98-9 

Lubbock (Texas), 23, 151 

results of applying fertilizer in, 
98-100 



Usar (or alkahne) land, 48-53 
Report of Usar Land Reclama- 
tion Committee, 49 
Uttar Pradesh, tlautbandhi in, 15 
land reclamation in, 46-7, 54 
(Eabt), population of, 43 
ruspon&e of soil to fertilizcrs in, 

102-03 
Zamindari AboliHon Aet of 1952, 
40 

Vivekanand Laboratoiy, The, 50 

' Wah-Wah ' plough, 64-5 
Wardha Ashram, saving human 

excreta at, 21 
Waste, prevention of, at feasts etc, 

12-13 
Water resources, 77-89 
Water-lifting deviees, 84-6 
Water-logging, 46-7, 88-9 
Webley and Quastel, on soil 

fertility, 105 
Weeds : conserva tion for compost 

of, 25, 129, 140 

infested areas, 47-8 

hans, 46, 47-8 
Wheat, comparative yields of, 2 

effect of fertilizer on, 99, 103 

possible yield of, 90 

rust in rabi crop of, 112-13 

unusually high yield of, 91 
Wind-breaks, 74-5 
World Food and Agriculture 

Organization, 2, 38 

Ziamindari Abolition Aet (U.P.), 
1952, 40