Star farmer rues water crisis

Guess what Seemu Sardar, a 60-year-old tribal woman who won plaudits for best farming technique, told the President when she met him to collect the award this month?

"We have water problem," the elderly smartly informed Pranab Mukherjee.

Seemu, wife of 68-year-old Lakhan Sardar and resident of Balijuri village at Jadugora in East Singhbhum's Potka block, around 40km from Jamshedpur, is a recipient of Krishi Karman Awards. She collected Rs 1 lakh and a citation from the President at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi, on January 15. The award is instituted by the Union agriculture and co-operation ministry. Eight states were selected for their achievement in food grain production in 2011-12. Jharkhand was one of them. From each state, one man and one woman were feted for their outstanding performance on the field.

"Rashtrapati amake bollen 'bhalo kore chas koro'. Ami joler mushkil ache bollam. Rashtrapati dekhbo bollen," (The President told me to carry on farming in a good way. I told him that we have water problem. The President then said he would look into the matter)," said Seemu.

The 60-year-old voiced the anguish of thousands of farmers of her village and elsewhere, who suffer in the absence of proper irrigation facilities.

"Recognition was fine, but if we had enough water for irrigation, we could have done agriculture in a better way," said her husband Lakhan, a retired employee of Uranium Corporation of India Limited.

Pointing towards the defunct tube well, Lakhan said that most of them were defunct. "We had to hire a water suction machine after being advised to do the same by Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) and drew water from the village pond with the help of it," added Lakhan.

In fact, it was ATMA officials, who cited Seemu Sardar as a model to encourage other farmers to adopt cultivation of arhar, a variety of pulses.

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