Is tractor a boon for the farmers? If your answer is yes, think again.
When we first began ISCOWP, we traveled through the USA with a team of oxen to show people the usefulness of oxen as part of our educational presentation for cow protection. We often accompanied the Festival of India to various major cities, led the Ratha yatra parade with our team, and after the parade corralled the oxen in the local park with cow protection literature to distribute. Thousands of people viewed the oxen and asked many questions. To explain our position , Balabhadra Dasa would give a description of the petrol powered tract or as a means of showing the value of the oxen.
Although this description was given in cities of USA, utilizing the tracto .Over the ox will meet with the same environmental problems and difficulties for farmers worldwide specifically in India where there are alarming reports of farmers committing suicide.
MAKING OF A TRACTOR
Many ecologically conscious people seem to take tractorpowered farming for granted. The first question we ask these people is, "How many mining operations do you need to make a tractor"? You need mines for iron, coal, limestone, manganese, nickel, copper, bauxite, tin, and zinc, just to name a few. For these minerals, you have to rape Mother Earth and create hellish conditions for thousands of workers. And, that's just step one.
Next, there is the smelting plants, where the ores are broken loose and cooked down. Now we are talking about big industry, huge factories, more hellish work. And, we're getting into large scale pollution.
From the smelting plants we go to the factory where the tractor is put together. Still more hellish working conditions, still more pollution. Now the tractor is finally assembled and sitting in the parking lot without tyres. Where do we get the materials for the tyres? People used to go to tropical countries and pay workers a few cents to cut rubber trees and bleed them for latex. These days we have steelbelted radials, made from synthetics derived from petroleum.
Speaking of petroleum, now that we have our tractor sitting on its tyres in the parking lot, what does it run on? You cannot put grass and wheat in that tank. You need petroleum, which you might have to fight for since petroleum is not a renewable resource. To prove it is yours, you may have to send troops to the Middle East to kill men, women , and children. You might have to a sacrifice your son or even your daugther. And if you win, when the man with the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ships your oil across the ocean, he may spill half of it into the sea.
Whatever oil you cannot currently use goes to the refinery. If you have ever driven through a refinery town, you know that the air smells foul , and the water is so bad that it is often declared hazardous to drink.
Now, our farmer has his tractor, his steel belted radials, and his petrol. He fires up the engine and thinks. "With this tractor I can do the work of fifty oxen." He looks at his oxen and says, "I don't need you any more. I have my tractor. I have my petroleum. You can go to the slaughterhouse."
When you start killing bulls, you are destined to receivevery negative karmic reactions. Some of the karmic reaction begins right away. For a start, now you have hapless people working in slaughter houses. These slaughterhouse jobs are amongst the most dangerous and demoralizing in the job market. Occupation with highest employee turnover rate in u.s.: Slaughterhouse worker.
Occupation with highest employee rate of injury in the u.s.: Slaughterhouse worker.
( Ref. Diet for a New America, John Robbins )
But the farmer doesn 't think about that. He thinks, "I don't have to feed those oxen anymore. That profit goes into my pocket." At the cost of their lives.
The farmer is also forgetting the cost of acquiring the tractor. He has lost the cost of feeding his oxen and acquired the larger cost of paying off interest loans to pay for his tractor. These loans often come with high interest rates. On the economic market, a tractor is worth more than an ox . Selling his oxen to the slaughterhouse did not pay for his tractor.
"Several small farmers in Punjab have committed suicide because of inability to repay loans taken to buy tractors," says a study conducted at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana last year. The craze to possess a tractor, usually of higher horsepower than they needed, drove many farmers to take heavy loans only to be saddled later with high maintenance costs, according to an editorial in the Economic and Political Weekly of October 25, 2003." Down to Earth, Tractor Crazy, Vol 13, No 11 October 2004.
Then he looks at his labourers who used to work those oxen, people who worked in the mode of goodness in the fields, growing grains, and vegetables. He says, "I've already killed my oxen. I have my tractor, I have no work for you. You are unemployed. Why don't you go to the city and work in the factory to make more machines, or beg in the street? If he does not employ anyone and does the ox work himself he is thinking," Now my life will be easier, I will not have to work so hard."
Then he takes the tractor out to plow his field. Its heavy tyres compact the earth, so the roots of his hybrid plants have trouble growing. He no longer has manure to nourish the soil, so he pours on commercial fertilizer, made with huge inputs of natural gas. Because the crops eventually deplete the organic substances in the soil that hold the moisture, his soil easily washes away into the stream. The weak soil that is left grows weak plants easy prey for weeds, bugs, and disease. So, the farmer brings out his arsenal of pesticides. These also wash downstream.
To acquire the pesticides, the farmer takes out another high interest loan. Now he is in debt for the tractor and the pesticides.
Seeds of Suicide, a 2005 documentary film by Frontline/ World correspondent Chad Heeter who is a student at U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, was filmed in Andhra Pradesh. The film stated: "Last summer an average of seven farmers killed themselves every day. In this part of the world, machinery, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and hybrid seeds all of which originated in the West often spell disaster rather than prosperity. In India since 1997, more than 25,000 farmers have committed suicide, many drinking the chemical that was supposed to make their crops more, not less, productive."
So, what is the alternative? When a cow gives birth, about half the time the calf is a bull. These bulls are God's tractors, produced in the "factory" of the mother's womb. This factory does not pollute or create hellish working conditions. And, it operates by the laws of nature, which God has arranged. With this tractor there is no pollution because it can grow its own fuel oats and grasses and even the wastes are useful. Cow manure can be processed to yield methane, a clean burning fuel. The residue can go into the ground as a first class fertilizer and soil builder. Now there is no need for byproducts from the slaughterhouse to build organic content, nor pesticides. With this tractor, there is no violence. The relationship between the farmer and the oxen is based on love and trust. The farmer works side by side with the oxen and when the oxen see the farmer, they expect to be petted, and stroked under the neck. In return, they like to work, and they work well with an experienced farmer.
"The bull is the emblem of the moral principle, and the cow is the representative of the earth. When the bull and the cow are in a joyful mood, it is to be understood that the people of the world are also in a joyful mood. The reason is that the bull helps production of grains in the agricultural field, and the cow delivers milk, the miracle of aggregate food values."
Srimad Bhagavatam 1.16.18 Purport by Srila Prabhupada
Chaya Devi Dasi was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in 1971. She and her husband Balabhadra Dasa incorporated the International Society for Cow Protection (ISCOWP). Her husband is the ISKCON Minister for Cow Protection and Agriculture. For more information please refer to www. iscowp.org.