Almost more than double the size of food grains!

What is the secret of the high Chinese farm production and productivity? We have so many experts and so many travellers to China. They must bring back some useful insights into the Chinese farming development strategy.

It looks there is a heavily subsidised farming practice, there seems to large scale farms and also a great deal of large-scale operations, being procurement, logistics and the payment of subsidies.

Chinese agricultural authority has expressed confidence in the summer harvest has almost been finished at the end of the month. Major grain production areas are poised to sustain a bumper harvest for the fifth year in succession. Summer crops in China are mostly rice and wheat and these two crops constitute about 23 per cent of the country’s annual grain harvest. The grain production in that country has been growing in a systematic way and for the past four consecutive years it has recorded 501.5 million tonnes in 2007, almost the level of the country’s annual consumption.

In India we talk of self-sufficiency in food production. This goal is reached in China; it seems easily, every year for the past few years.

So, the world would heave a sense of relief at the China’s food production success, as the world food crisis is mainly a crisis triggered by the major countries like China and India with huge populations. So, China’s this year’s farming success has led to a sense of relief in the international community.
Food safety is now a national goal, as in many countries, also in India. But how the current year’s Indian bumper harvest also gives some hope that the world food crisis would be managed by the world community, given the record harvests in China and India.

What is China’s agricultural policy impetus for grain production?
Our agri experts must somewhat explain this to the Indian farmers and others in the policy drawing entourage.

If we are to understand the Chinese jargon, the subsidies for the grain procurement seems to have been raised from 2 per cent to 7 per cent in some major grain producing regions in order to facilitate the easy procurement and reach the targets.

Subsidies for grain procurement is said to have been raised from 562.5 billion yuan to support farmers, 130.7 billion yuan more than that in 2007.
Since we don’t know how reliable these figures are, unless some concerned experts here in Krishi Bhavan can help us in India.

But who cares? Yes, that is the mood in New Delhi, these days! Every minister is minding his or her interests it looks!

China has stopped its bulk grain imports during the past four years.
In India we see a rather different scenario.

First, we are now concerned with the coming elections. Ours is a democracy. The ruling coalition is a bit worried about its prospects. The allies in the coalition might look for best allies to enhance their tally, the number of easts. This has to be at the expense of each other only! Hence there is a sort of neglect of many important key decisions.

One is the state of agriculture. Though there is a record harvest, if Sharad Pawar’s words are to be taken at the face value, there is worry; the farmers are a deeply disappointed lot. In Vidarbha there is a total failure, in spite of the face that the incumbent President of India hails from that part of the country.
Now, to rub salt in the wound, the Prime Minister has been badly advised by his chelas to write letters to each farmers who get the farm debt waiver, in the various regional languages. One can be sure the PM wont get any more votes by this gimmick, very late in his tenure.

Every one knows the PM was the last person who lost his sleep over the plight of the farmers!

Also, his deputy, the finance minister is now touring the states and the bank branches to see the farm debt waiver is carried out fast. In fact, no PSB seems to be working these days, no routine transactions are carried out and you get the answer every time you visit a bank: “We are receiving our Executive Director who is on a visit to the states, who also pays a mandatory visit to one rural branck to check up how the debt waiver is carried out.

Instead of this important job be done by experts or expert committees and given a sense of non-political routine job, the loan waiver seems to have caught the imagination of the PM and Sonia Gandhi duo as a sure way to win votes in the next elections.

Experts like Raghuram Rajan who was till the other day adviser to Mr.Chidambaram have decried the loan waiver scheme in the way it has been carried out.
“It would ruin the very credit culture” in the banking system and also among the farmers.

The co-operative banks have to be strengthened in order to make the rural/farm credit flow more smoother and more systematic. This can be done only by a very careful planning and the selection of an experts committee and a high profile head.

That way people would feel confident that the government means business, even now; more farmers are left out, those who don’t meet the criteria listed by the budget. Also, the evil of private money lenders in whose grip the farmers are caught up is not addressed.

Can the Prime Minister say that he had solved the farmer’s debt issue in a best possible manner?

He cant, obviously.

You have to be seen to be equitable in your doling our relief.
Only those who are familiar with the rural realities would do a better job. There have been criticisms about the current loan waiver scheme. Better alternatives also have been suggested.

Anyway, the next elections would give us an indication whether the farmers now vote for the current dispensation or they want a change. Let us see.

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