pastoral India


Agricultural workers prepare nylon ties to bundle harvested wheat in Manpur, India. I was struck by how many of India’s agricultural workers are women–apparently around 70%.

I just spent a week in India on assignment for a world hunger foundation that supports sustainable agriculture. As those who have been to India know, in the urban areas, the crush of cars, cows, motorcycles, rickshaws, goats, dogs, people, pigs, bicycles, trucks and the like is overwhelming. Barely a space of pavement or road lies unoccupied by something or someone and the visual complexity–not to mention the decibel level–of all that activity boggles the mind.

By contrast, India’s rural farmlands are quite beautiful and peaceful, busy though they may be with the hum of agricultural activity. Because the farms are mostly small, few mechanized tools are used so one has the sense of stepping back in time. Also, women make up 70 percent of the agricultural labor force so everywhere one goes, one sees women working in their bright-colored saris under the scorching sun. Below are some of the images from my journey through this other more pastoral version of India.

An agricultural worker in Bagdi, India.
A girl pumps water at a boorwell next to a wheat field in Yusufpur, India.
Two boys jump into the Jargu dam which irrigates farms in 59 surrounding villages in Uttar Pradesh, India.
An agricultural worker harvests wheat in Rajoda, India.
A husband and wife team winnows rice manually, in Subudha, India.
A young girl carries water on her head through wheat fields in Bagdi, India.
Agricultural workers use an electric thresher to thresh wheat for animal feed in Bagdi, India.
Protecting themselves from the hot sun means many agricultural workers cover everything but their eyes.
A mother and daughter sort wheat in Mandu, India. Many of the people I photographed working together were family members, either working on their own small farm or together for a farmer.
Agricultural workers harvest "gram" (chickpeas) in Indore, India.
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