Narendra-Singh Tomar

Variety of new services are coming up. Even IT outsourcing companies can create jobs in rural India!
Indian agriculture is so fundamental!

First of all the Agriculture and Industry Survey Journal wish the best of luck to the new Hon’ble Union Agriculture Minister Sri Narendra Singh Tomar. The current priorities? Unemployment? Creating more jobs?

Agriculture needs more intensive study by experts. As per one study from Columbia University in the USA India’s 5 major grains production, rice, maize in the agri sector are more vulnerable to climate change and hence needs much care and attention. The former incumbent of the Krishi Bhavan proved inadequate to the job. So this tie at least agri ministry needs much more higher priority. We are publishing many rural success stories. There are any number of small and micro business ventures where small, village based youth, boys and girls are working at many new agro ventures that create hundreds of jobs! Variety of services is coming up and rural India is a creator of jobs many of our vocal politicians don’t know!

Agriculture can’t be left to low priorities! India is a strong agricultural economy. How many of us realise this basic fact and truth?

As Pandit Nehru used to say, that quotation is still more relevant, everything can wait but not agriculture! In the first term, Modi government did make many promises in agriculture. But many of them remained on paper only. Like doubling agri incomes. Agri insurance didn’t really take off. Many other promises too. Extending kisan credit cards. Pension for farmers etc. There are many other long-term issues from the past and the present socio-economic changes. There is rapid urbanisation and also urban migrations. So too the further split in farm sizes. All these issues need wider debates and also wider consultations from what is called the stake-holders.

Right now, the very political atmosphere, the very immediacy of emotions from the bitter election, the massive defeats and massive victories of concerned stake-holders might inhibit the thought processes for any rational discussions.

For the moment let us consider some of the current issues and also current thinking of the government. There are also the recent trade disputes and the tariff wars between the USA and China and right now between India and the USA over whose, some 200 odd goods and services India has raised the tariffs.

A noted columnist and author on world economy draws our attention to the economic realities. Inside India and outside. He says that the global growth is sluggish, at around 1 per cent and the US growth is 2 per cent. The Indian Prime Minister ,at the very first flush of an absolute majority vote, says that he would usher in a 5-trillion economy in India by 2024.While there is an unending controversy over the GDP growth among the experts, also criticism about the 45-year high unemployment and the every GDP growth itself put at various counts, from 6.5 per cent and otherwise. Also, it is debated whether the Indian economic statistics can be trusted.

So, it looks too early to take up controversial issues of great importance. As for the agricultural sector, it is one of trust again. There are widespread drought and also much distress in the agri sector ,farmers suicides are increasing, the election promises by various parties, by the JD(S) in Karnataka and by the BJP ,are yet to be implemented fully. Indian agriculture is a field where the simplistic issues, information like kharif and rabi sowing statistics alone don’t show you the full picture of distress in terms of the over-all picture of distress in rural India as a whole. Only some of the industrially advanced state like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu show some economic stability and also some strong foundation for agriculture sustainability also. Even in such states, as we have seen just recently the severe drinking water crisis in the capital city of Chennai. So, we have to be a bit realistic when we read the statistics for particular major crops like rice and wheat production. The major grain crops are attended as they are the staple food crops and India at any cost has to maintain the food targets. As on date India is food sufficient and luckily, India is also a net exporter of agri goods.

Yet there are pockets of deprivation and also widespread malnutrition which caused so many premature deaths of poor children in Bihar and that had agitated the entire country. The concerned ministers, Chief Minister and even the Prime Minister had not spoken about this great tragedy. A great pity indeed.

There are food shortages in some parts of the country. Agriculture and food production to food distribution are of the first priority in any idea of the vikas! But then development itself is a concept that needs some elaboration. It is not just the material facts like enough irrigation water supply, timely rains and also the various institutional mechanisms.

As things stand Indian agriculture is linked to the international trade and export and import issues. But the Indian farmers are a neglected lot and many of their problems remain unattended. Agriculture production is not evenly spread out in the States.TN is self-sufficient in food production but there is a severe drought and Cauvery river water is the only source for irrigation.

Yes, Cauvery water is highly a politicised issue and this needs to be kept in mind. So too the Maharashtra state agriculture. Despite drought, the State’s growth is at 7.5% and it is a credit for the state. The basic reason for such a high growth is the growth in other sectors, more so in the services sector.

This is revealed in the State’s economic survey. One suggestion here is that the Union Agriculture Ministry must induce the other States too to come out with the states’ economic surveys so that the public would get to know how agriculture is being promoted in the states. What is lacking in India is the public awareness of the sort of agriculture the States are engaged in and also which particular major crops, cotton in Maharashtra, sugarcane in UP and likewise even rice cultivation is being promoted.

Farmers in India as we say in this journal are always debtors! Or litigants! Or, waste time at the courts or revenue offices. Farmers must be able to speak on the phone to the local revenue officers.

There is widespread notorious corruption in all the revenue offices. Anti-corruption measures in the farmer’s related offices would go a long way to save farmers from the clutches of the lower level revenue offices.

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