Yes, e-market, e-NAM, the Internet-based National Agricultural market connecting 21 mandis from 8 states was launched by Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi on April 14.
This is a most revolutionary step. A giant step, historically too.
After almost of millennium of darkness, the Indian agriculture sees a great leap.
The Internet tech that has transformed the world, ushered in a globally beneficial life style, a higher living standard for a vast mass of people, now promises is by all means is a revolutionary step as far as new and similar higher living standards in the much-long neglected agriculture sector.
We congratulate the Prime Minister in particular for this far-sighted step.
As we write there is the scorching summer when most of the Indian subcontinent is hit by widespread drought conditions and water levels in all of India’s major dams are very low at a very critical level.
The drought situation, almost everyday, is a grim battle for the vast poor living in drought states, the number states affected seem rising. Let us hope for an early monsoon.
We needn’t narrate the severity of the agriculture crisis; it is almost as unprecedented as at any other point of time and the two successive droughts had created a new situation that affects all sectors of the economy.
Apart from rising priced for some of the essential commodities like pulses there are other issues like drought hit farm labour, cattle and drinking water needs etc. The sugar mills are hit and there is a shortage of sugar and the sugar prices are a sore point with the mill owners. Mr.Sharad Pawar has come out with a statement that prices must be at least as high as Rs.40 per kilo sugar and he seeks the interests of the producers, when most of the ones in Maharashtra are politicians who own sugar factories. Yet, the sugar farmers are greatly affected for the heavy sugarcane dues from sugar mills.
You see that for every economic sector there is a powerful lobby and when you are fully aware of the type of politics and society we have that lobbies, like the one, namely, the BCCI, one can’t talk and write, let alone speak politically correct and think you have had your conscience clear!
We like not only in an imperfect world, we live in a highly iniquitous world. The farmers stand to lose at every stage of their lives.
The farmers’ lot today is deteriorating and even after Mr.Modi’s brave words and gestures, the farmer’s lot hadn’t improved. Gujarat already declared is 994 villages scarcity affected, 200 odd dams fast depleting water levels. The giant Narmada dam, the every lifeline of the state is bravely meeting the huge withdrawal of water to the extent of its 8o percent storage and it is a fortunately state where there is no need, says its minster for any Maharashtra-like water trains!
But then the plight of farmers and their cattle evokes great emotions and only those who have any link with farming or villages can appreciate what it means to do something significant as the one now through the launching of the Internet-based marketing by the e.NAM.
It is, as we like to call, it the third Green Revolution in Indian agri sector.
Some news papers reported the news but not in any great length or depth.The Indian media, as it is basically catering to an urban readership, especially the English media and so the full message of what the new initiative can achieve can be felt only in the medium term, if not in longer term.
This is timely, the mobile revolution is on and the large spread of education, awareness and the spread of Internet and the social media as well would help to reinforce the environment to seek for a fair price for all farmers eliminating the state level marketing boards and the intermediaries who were playing ,yes, some good and enabling roles and yet they were now proving to be great obstacles and also stopping the other developments like timely payments, why, even reaching to help raise farmers incomes through fair pricing of commodities.
Highly distorted prices were the bane of the farmer’s communities. Now, with the aim of connecting the total 585 mandis in the next two years, let us hope that e-commerce, in the trade jargon in the agri sector opens up a whole new world of an equitable agricultural market for the Indian farmers.
Next are some other demands of farmers. Timely loans, assessment of risks and losses and compensation’s and settling insurance claims.The Aadhar must reach out to all farmers, their PAN cards and their sense of remoteness from modern facilities must become a thing of the past.
We have to liberate our farmers from some of the oldest bondages of official apathy, the farmers, as we define, as first debtors and they live all through their lives as debtors or court birds.
The inequities that we have left to make life a hell is still true as far as Indian farmers are concerned.
Let the IT guys, the angels and devils, come forward to make the working of the e-NAM a highly efficient and socially enduring good. e-NAM can’t succeed as a bureaucratic-driven institution. It has to be a joint venture involving farmers representatives and other stake holder. Let new ideas converge on this new farm sector initiative.