1 min read

Rainfed

Sunder And Sonati

Twenty years ago
We watched in amazement
As our neighbour and his family
His wife, his parents, his small children
Armed with nothing more than
Gadaparais, mammutys, kothus and chattis
Transformed
Over the course of a year
Or two
A mettu-kaadu
A rainfed ragi field
Into a vayil
A rice-paddy

A well was dug
A diesel engine bought
A goat sacrificed
And lo
They grew their own rice
Growing rice is progress

Fast forward ten years and
We watched in amazement
As a JCB
Working night and day
Converted
In three days
Three mettu-kaadus
Into three vayils
The well was deepened
Growing ragi was abandoned
And an abundance of rice was grown
Growing rice is progress

Fast forward to the present
Drought has become more common
And wells run out of water
One rice-paddy grows
At the cost of
Abandoning the other three
Rather than
Three ragi fields growing
At the cost of
Abandoning one rice-paddy
Growing rice is progress

Growing rice is progress, of course
But there is also the realisation that
All the crops in
All the fields
All over the world
Are rainfed