Mountains

On hill farmer…

The farmer belongs to the romanticized sect of imagination, weaving his craft across the terra firma in symphonies attached firmly to the cycles of the sun, from days to seasons to generations… a lilting lore of never-ending toil, pain and suffering, of mute courage and resolve that seeks benediction from the land… agriculture is perhaps first in the line of ‘cultures’, an intersection where the homo sapien shed animalism for forays into civilization, carved tools from the earth to carve earth itself, and set itself upon weaving a now millennia old fabric of consciousness…

Farmer near Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

Modern day agriculture is mostly a race against time, shovelling and injecting the earth with myriad concoctions to grow enough food to feed ever-growing populations, an exercise that seems rather cancerous at times, a malaise with deep tinges of irony… akin to quantum mechanics, farming seems to exist in two distinct states – one where the farmer is an artist, and the other where he is a mere apprentice…

Farmer near Nohradhar, Himachal Pradesh, India

It is the former who still dominates the agricultural landscape of the high Himalaya, where farming is still subsistence, and the farmer an innocently forlorn disposition that refuses to bow down to the elements, or the roulette that is the weather… scraping land holdings amidst steep undulations, channeling water into their folds, mumbling incantations for a good harvest and talking solemnly to the cattle… rooted in tradition yet progressive in action, dismissive of patriarchal moulds…

Farmer in Chota Bhangal region, Himachal Pradesh, India

The hill farmer is an enlightened lot, one pained by the vagaries and demands of the modern-day economy yet embalmed by the elements, one devout to the so-called satvik as the flood plains revel in the mechanised tamsik of agriculture, titillated by well-tilled soils and dismayed by unexpected hailstorms, basking in the sun that bakes the land and cursing the clouds that irrigate it… smallholder agriculture is a play of ‘values’ than that of ‘volume’, where the land is more of an ‘accomplice’ than an ‘asset’, an exercise that is as emotional as it is economic…

Farmer near Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India

Like pastoralism and shepherds, agriculture is more a way of life than a profession for the hill farmer… it is not only crop they derive from the land, but a deep understanding of the cyclical nature of life… of perseverance and the intangible pleasure in pain, of sowing sweat to reap redemption… sanity is as much a factor of one’s surroundings as it is a eulogy to modernism… urbanity revels in shouts of petrichor at the first few droplets, but it is in the brows of a farmer that it condenses seamlessly…

Musings on hill farmers…

Author: Parth Joshi

Allured by the outdoors, the author is made up in parts of that quintessential lost soul wreathing under the pangs of biophilia in a desk job, a wannabe elegist mostly ending up in dungeons of poetasters and an optimist waiting for the senility of the modern world to fade away while sampling shoots and leaves. In saner times, he has a keen interest in areas pertaining to tourism, history, agriculture and climate change, especially with respect to historical interpretations, emerging technologies and future livelihoods. An avid trekker, runner, cyclist, birder and photographer, he is more often than not found gloating over anything hinterland, on foot or over computer monitors, and fantasizing solutions that can foster inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods for communities at the grassroots.

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