Suresh Godani (70), a resident of Pipariya, Madhya Pradesh, talks about the changing town-scape vis-à-vis the changes in local agricultural economy. A translated excerpt from our recorded conversation:
“My family came to Pipariya in 1948. We started with a small scale daal mil. In those days, the town only had a handful of processing plants and most of the land was used for farming. Many of these plants used labour intensive hand-run mills that required 15-30 labourers per unit. People from close-by villages would work as labourers in these mills. In those days, a good processing plant could process 150 sacks of pulse every day. Local buyers always preferred haath-chakki over the automated ones. The pulse that the former processed wasn’t refined, but was considered tastier and healthier for consumption. Today, there are close to 40 daal mills in the town. Barring a few, all of them are completely automated. Now all it takes is 5-6 labourers to run a unit and the average production for a factory has gone up to 500 sacks per day.
So the expansion has been vast. It has opened up the local market and changed the town over the years. The farming land has reduced and more processing plants have come up. It has changed the dynamics not only economically but socially as well. Apart from locals, a lot of migrant labourers from other states are also employed in these factories at present. From exporting only within Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the product is now exported till the southern part of the country. The raw material mostly comes from the neighbouring regions of Narsinghpur, Raisen, Baitool, Itarsi, Sagar and Hoshangabad. In the rush to grow a crop that yields timely return, we have ended up losing most varieties of our local beej. Tuar and Moong are the most sought after pulses. As the locals say, the anaaj mandi in Pipariya is always either green or yellow. Thus, the commercialization of agriculture here has been slow, but steady.”
Daal Mill: pulse processing plant
Haath-Chakki: hand-run mill
Tuar: Pigeon Pea
Moong: Green Gram
Anaaj Mandi: Grain Market