Joint farming a blessing for Dalits in times of crisis

Joint farming a blessing for Dalits in times of crisis

Dalits harvest wheat in Sangrur’s Bharo village on Tuesday.

Parvesh Sharma

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 21

Dalits would have starved had they not taken to joint farming with members of upper castes, said Charan Singh, a labourer from Balad Kalan village.

The labourers started carrying out farm activities on reserved land to earn a livelihood. Little did they know, it would turn out to be a blessing in times of Covid.

Social harmony

Given the situation, it would have become difficult to feed our families. Thanks to joint farming, each Dalit family will get at least 600 kg of wheat. — Balvir Singh, laborer

In the beginning, there were clashes between the upper caste and Dalits over joint farming. But the situation improved gradually.

This year, at Balad Kalan village, 188 Dalit families divided themselves into three groups and took 93 acres of reserved land from the village common land of 280 acres.

“Each family will get 500 kg of wheat from joint farming and we will start harvesting on Wednesday. The remaining stock will be sold in markets and the money will be used for paddy sowing,” said Kulwinder Singh, another labourer.

Similarly, at Jhaneri village, around 160 Dalit families have divided themselves into two groups and taken 30 acres of reserved land from the village common land.

“If we look at the situation now, it would have become difficult for us to feed our families. Thanks to joint farming, we do not have to worry about food shortage. In our village, each Dalit family will get at least 600 kg of wheat. The government should promote joint farming by providing us land for cultivation,” said Balvir Singh, a Dalit labourer.

Mukesh Malaud, president of the Zameen Prapti Sangharsh Committee, said Dalits were still facing problems in taking reserved land on lease. “Officials have either been delaying the auction of reserved land or creating problems. The government should help Dalits,” said Malaud.

When told that some people from the upper caste had been cultivating crops on reserved land, Poonam Kangra, a member of the Punjab State Scheduled Castes Commission, said she was looking into the matter.

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