Thursday, July 1, 2010

Farming - Real vs Virtual

Farmville became a favourite hobby of people when it got started on facebook. I found a whole lot of them getting hooked onto that irrespective of the age group . My children also got hooked to it about a few months back. I could hear long and serious discussion happening about what trees to be planted, or which animal should they buy, or what they need to trade with their friends. They would also go onto farmville umpteen number of times. When questioned about the frequency they would say they had to do it or else their crops would wither!! I jokingly told them that if they were so very passionate about farming why not try real farming than waste time on virtual farming? They asked me where and how they could they do it?

That set me thinking. City bred children have no clue whatsoever about farming and agriculture. Though we say that India is an agrarian country so much has changed over a period of time. Agriculture has basically had farmers who over generations have been doing nothing but tending their fields. But so many factors have led to changes in the field of agriculture. Farmers faced with vagaries of nature, the burden of loan repayment, lack of scientific farming methods, their children going on to study and getting into different fields all these have contributed to agriculture taking a back seat.

I remembered the house help whom we had long time back. She had told me that she had enrolled her son into a boarding school. Later I asked her as to how her son was coping with his studies? She told me that he does like it and not only studies but as part of the curriculum the children had to also work in the fields early in the morning. I really liked the idea. Atleast children at a young age will come to know about the hard work that goes into bringing them that one plate of rice or roti to the table. Not only that I thought even if one child out of fifty in a class gets interested and takes it up as his future profession we will have more "Educated farmers" who would then bring about better ways of farming techniques and a different approach altogether.

The other day I read this article saying that a farmer in New Zealand has come out with a new scheme where children can go to his farm and look after a cow during their free time. Isn't this a way of building a bridge between the rural and the urban lot? Will it not be a good concept to introduce this as part of curriculum to our young children which would have a long term effect in the development of our country? This would also bring children closer to nature and teach them to live in harmony with it. Is it then not better to have real experience than idling time away playing a virtual game?

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