Heat, humidity, and cobras… fieldwork is fun, right?

Whew- the past few days have been a whirlwind of activity!

We have spent the last four days tramping through fields, talking with farmers along the Yamuna River here in Delhi.  People have been amazingly open and welcoming, and seem keen to share their experiences with us.  We are off to a fantastic start with our new translator, Hapreet.  She’s an Environmental Studies MA and is eager to gain some experience in social science research.  She’s as fearless as they come and seems to be enjoying fieldwork as much as we are.

Sunday we spent the day with a colleague of Biraj Patnaik, the gentleman we interviewed last week.  He and his family had a few fields literally a stone’s throw away from the city’s metro station.  After a great conversation about their experiences farming they welcomed us into their home and stuffed us full to the brim with some amazing homemade dishes.

The past few days have been spent conversing with farmers on the north end of the Yamuna, upstream from the heart of Delhi.  Despite the quizzical looks we get when we first approach people, everyone we’ve met has been quite happy to talk to us about their farming experiences.  We’ve learned a great deal about their farming practices, their growing and selling patterns, and the many challenges they face.  One of the most interesting things we’ve learned is that a lot of the farmers are migrants from other areas of India.  They’ve come to Delhi because they have more access to water, seeds, and fertilizers, and are able to earn more because they can grow and sell continuously throughout the year.

Fieldwork is always such an adventure.  Not only have we been battling the heat and humidity (yesterday it felt like 118°!), we’ve been warned to watch our step, as there are cobras in the fields- yikes!  But, beyond this, it’s amazing how people welcome you into their lives and share their stories with you.  It’s been quite an experience to talk to these farmers and hear of their struggles- I hope we can do them justice.


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