land

Post 5

4:00 p.m.: I walk towards Shailendra’s sunflower field. The crop has been mostly harvested. Shailendra’s father is cutting the few stems that are still standing. Damodar’s younger son Giridhar is standing by, observing. I ask Giridhar what he is doing there. Giridhar says he has come to inspect the flowers since it is likely to rain anytime now.

Giridhar tells me that the 0.2 acres on which Shailendra cultivates the sunflower is owned by a local landlord, Tejpratap Singh. Tejpratap leased the land to Damodar Rajak for two years in exchange of INR 30,000. Damodar Rajak in turn leased the land to Shailendra’s family: the input-costs (fertilisers, water, fuel for irrigation, etc.) and harvests are shared equally, although it must be noted that the expenditure on labour is entirely Shailendra’s responsibility.

Post 4

10 a.m.: I follow Shailendra to his sunflower fields. The skies are overcast. Beyond the canal, next to the blackberry tree, lie his 0.2 acres of sunflower fields. The family cultivates the crop using their own labour- Shailendra’s parents, elder brother and sister-in-law, wife, children and nieces and nephews. But when the crop will be harvested in a few days, they will have to hire labour. Most labourers tend to be their neighbours, usually people without any land. They are all from the same Rishideo (Musahar) community as Shailendra. Their wages are paid in cash: INR 100 per day. After the harvest, the seeds will have to be threshed: the family will have to rent a threshing machine for which they must pay INR 150. If they wanted to pay in kind, they would have to pay one-tenth of all the seeds or one bag for every ten bags of seeds.