"Farming is just like gambling" is a common saying among villagers in Telangana, India, and Central Lombok, Indonesia. Commercial cultivation has made agriculture more risky, as well as potentially more profitable; it contains the possibility for both ruin and fortune. This paper aims to shed light on how farmers experience this uncertainty by going beyond material conditions to pay attention to hopes, desires and fears. The translocal study examines farmers' responses to specific material and discursive environments, shaped by transnational flows and processes. It argues that farmers take risk as an ethical action in response to conditions of uncertainty, and that these actions consequently play a part in self-making processes. Risk is critical to people's evaluation of their lives, evoking feelings of capacity and impotence, dreams and fears.