Agriculture in India has come a long way. Gone are the old much-hyped Green Revolution days.
No more we can talk of in sloganeering terms. Even if we imitate, call our goal in agriculture as evergreen revolution, as we are taught by the self-styled agri policy makers, agriculture is no more just food production and food distribution.
It is, we mean, agriculture is now tied to the needs of the new globalised world, international agri trade has to be newly formulated and the WTO is concerned about how Indian agri exports might hurt others, notably, the US agri trade.
There is progress now. Indian agri exports are becoming competiti9ve, new products, new markets and new standards in quality etc are now becoming more important.
India is also waking up to the opportunities in other regions. South East Asia is also becoming a more competitive market. The rice-producing South East Asian neighbours, Mynamar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia are competing with Indian in rice exports and India is now becoming the most competitive rice exporting country.
So, the time has come for India to focus more on the new opportunities on the international agri trade and export markets. Also, we have to strengthen the research and innovations in new rice varieties. Our basmati rice is a great success story.
Now, there are reports about what is called the Golden Rice. ‘Allow Golden Rice Now’ campaign by the former Greenpeace member is now in India and what he says is very interesting.
Of course, it is a new GM variant and what it means to activists for and against this new, Vitamin-deficiency-tackling rice is a separate issue. But the point is that India has to strengthen its rice cultivation base and the rice is being further refined in Manila.
The International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines is very positive news.
Also, we need to deploy in our agriculture sector very any new tools and technologies and new ideas and innovations to make India attack the persistent poverty pockets and deliver PDS in a new technologically efficient ways.
Who knows, the new Addhar tech also can help in reducing poverty and malnutrition, these twin objectives are our current priorities.
Also, our agriculture is newly impacted by certain new developments, new issues like climate change, and pollution in the cities, environment clearances need to build and expand our infrastructure, so the forests and air and water are not severely impacted.
Agriculture ecology is already severely impacted by fast urbanisation and economic changes, the urban landscape even in India (after China) is taking away much of the agriculture spaces and the reduction in arable land is a new reality.
Pollution is already going beyond control, in Delhi and Bangalore, to take just two cities; it is observed increasingly the air we breathe is beyond the permissible limits.
There are no easy solutions, it seems. And in India, given the lax climate, too much corruption, too many mafias that operate in the real estate and also in awarding contracts, we see great many challenges that our new rulers, the ministers and even the bureaucrats seem unequal to the challenge.
The Modi government has very many new ministers who are, if we can say so, are just greenhorns. They lack the expertise. So, it is time the government gives each ministry, in particular the critical ministries that need technical expertise, advisory councils to advise the ministers in taking decisions that impact the long-term issues.
This is more so even in agriculture, water resources, forests and environment and other ministries. What the UPA-II did in such areas like telecom and coal allocations should not be repeated.
So, there is a good warning now before the new government about repeating the same mistakes, in the very same ministries and related ones!
Yes, policy paralysis was there, we know. So, what guarantee now that the new governance and development mantras won’t fall in the same old fashion?
Our corporate wont change. They would continue to indulge in corporate espionage, as we have already seen. So, there is every likelihood they would resort to the same tactics, with our bureaucracy what it is! Let us not imagine for a moment that our new ministers won’t repeat the same mistakes!