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Konkan will soon be next Vidarbha, warns documentary

A former Mumbai journalist highlights the plight of Sindhudurg farmers in an 11-minute film, aims to raise awareness on decline of farming in the region

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Konkan will soon be next Vidarbha, warns documentary
A still from 'My Disappearing Farms'.
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While farmers in the drought-hit regions of Vidarbha are getting all the due attention, a similar story seems to be unfolding hundreds of kilometres away in Sindhudurg district of Konkan region, but without the state government's eye on it.

Now, a Mumbai-based former journalist, who currently work with a social development organisation, has highlighted the plight of the Sindhudurg farmers in a short documentary film titled My Disappearing Farms.

The 11-minute documentary in Marathi is doing rounds of various film festivals and was recently screened at the Pune Short Film Festival and Atharva Short and Documentary Film Festival in Mumbai. “A screening on June 5, the World Environment Day, will be attended by the environmentalists and experts in Mumbai. Also, there are plans to have screenings and discussion sessions for various stakeholders in the Konkan belt,” said filmmaker Simit Bhagat.

“The film delves into a range of issues, including low returns on investment, a sharp rise in input costs, shortage of labour, erratic rainfall and migration of families to big cities, such as Mumbai and Pune, in search of better opportunities,” said Bhagat. He added that through the film, he wanted to dispel the general perception that since Konkan received a good amount of rainfall, the farmers in the region were thriving, and to also generate awareness regarding their issues.

As per official figures, in the last two decades, over 12,500 acres – equivalent to the size of 4,000 cricket grounds -- of rice farms in Sindhudurg have turned fallow. According to the farmers,the actual numbers are even higher.

In the documentary, farmers talk about how the farming practise has gone considerably down in Sindhudurg, as the present generation was not at all keen on farming due to several reasons. The rising costs and shortage of labour, along with the changes in rainfall patterns, are some of the major reasons for the decline in farming in the region.

“Until a few years ago, rainfall was quite predictable, and we were able to start our farming season at a particular time. But these days, the monsoon is so uncertain that we end up suffering losses,” said Shashank Nandoskar, another farmer from Sindhudurg, adding that the farmers now preferred to engage in other occupations and so farming only for their household consumption.
Bhagat, who himself hails from the Sindhudurg region, has produced as well as directed the film. He began researching the topic during his trips and interaction with local farmers and shot with minimal budget. He said, “If this situation is not tackled now, it will not take much time for Konkan to become the next Vidarbha.”

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