While Rev. Daniel Premkumar may help to raise the self-esteem of Dalit farmers with the new farmers’ Bible (“A Sower Went Out To Sow,” December 2013), the sad reality is that many forms of farming, particularly paddy farming, are simply not profitable in Andhra Pradesh, India. Landless paddy farmers, in particular, are on an endless treadmill of borrowing for farm inputs, sowing, harvesting, repaying debts—then borrowing all over again for the next crop, either from landowners, suppliers, or loan sharks. No amount of biblical training or improvements in self-esteem are going to change the realities of rising fertilizer costs, limited access to affordable credit, or oversupply at market times, leading to depressed prices and limited or expensive storage. The best interventions are those aimed at mulching to improve the soil, crop diversification, and the formation of cooperatives to improve the Dalits’ purchasing and marketing power—all of which can be done in a biblical context.
Michael J. Wills