Thank you, Sarah for raising a very pertinent issue.In fact, a farmer is a very unfortunate figure everywhere on earth. From Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, or from Pakistan to Peru, yes everywhere. There seems to be a systemic bias against the farmers at both the levels- state and the society. While the prices of agricultural commodities generally get depressed at the harvesting time, more due to the collusion of the vested interests than the market forces of supply and demand, the middleman will take away a sizeable chunk of his produce on one pretext or other.
Unfortunately, urbanites only see the flashy cars driven by the scions of big landlords and assume that every farmer is making hay. Not at all. Such people represent only less than one per cent of any farming community. Rest of the lot is just living from hand to mouth, trying to survive against heavy odds. However, my biggest complaint is against those consumers who will be willing to pay huge sums for clothing and other necessities of life but will always purchase agricultural produce with a frown on their faces as if it is their birthright to buy these goods for a pittance. They cannot imagine how much hard work of countless human beings had gone in ensuring that our supermarkets are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and cereals.
Frankly, the biggest culprit in this squeezing the peasant is the state which tries its best to ensure that agricultural terms of trade, the ratio of agricultural prices to industrial prices, both measured as price indices, should remain in favour of the industrial sector. It has two objectives in mind for this unfair treatment to farmers. On the one hand it wants to ensure the availability of agricultural raw material at throwaway prices to the industrial sector and on the other it wants to suppress prices of food items for fear of urban unrest in case the farmers get good prices for their produce.