Agriculture is always a sensitive and therefore controversial field and every media outlet, be it the mainstream newspapers or specialist magazines have their own priorities.
Today the entire world over we have a new crisis in farming looming large and that is this global level Covid-1 attack that had crippled societies and economies. The new Virus has brought to light, the inherent challenges in our global food supplies and the very economic crisis that had laid down the farming communities and as the rest of the societies the farmers are also confined to their homes in the fear the spread of this new calamity, specially for a country like India and why even big ones like USA and Brazil, not to speak of the other developed and developing countries.
When will the farming communities stand up and pursue their age-old practices. Agriculture is not an year-round activity, it is very much dependent upon the rains and climatic changes and when you come to Indian agriculture it is much more complex and divergent activity spread across many regions and agri and ecologies.
We at Vadamalai Media have our own agenda and goals. We come from an agricultural background and are still engaged in practical farming. So, you won’t see the usual academic or bureaucratic outlook, even our journalistic language might sound a bit old fashioned! Though these types of writing and speaking is common in India when it comes to agriculture and rural development.
One important difference for Indian farming and the non-Indian farming systems, like those of the USA and why, even the Chinese is the widespread traditional farming systems where we don’t see the inexcusable practices when it is some meat packaging industry and even the eating habits of people. Here the situation is very different. So, what is unique to Indian agriculture and food systems and cultures have to be kept in mind and we have to look at the priorities we assign to our agriculture and farming communities must be fully appreciated. That is one reason why we might sound different but more authentic and hence less elegant in presenting our views and opinions.
One has to be first of all skeptical when it comes to presenting an optimistic picture agriculture which we routinely do. Forbidding confidence about our food supplies and availability to run our ground level distribution system when it comes to predicating an optimistic picture as to food production targets. We too want to build confidence but at the grassroots level, not just at the Central government level.
American unemployed are growing and hence there is a cry about food security there. Here too there is a concern about food security but both are very different perceptions. Anyway, it is good to see certain new parameters today that point to good harvest this season? What are the parameters?
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) says that the agriculture sector emerges as a beacon of hope! That is very well said. Let us not be misled by the hyperbole. Such statements sometime prove to be specially a field like agriculture that depends upon so many uncertainties, let alone. The pre monsoon predictions often prove to be illusory. As our monsoon prediction technology is so primitive when we really reflect on the state of our science and technology. Let us not forget that the Kerala government has recently announced a payment to private monsoon predicting agencies in Kerala that took a government dependent upon many non-private sector initiatives!
Anyway we have no quarrel with the CII in taking the tree body’s pro-government stand. It always pays to stand by any pro-government view when it comes to economics and business bodies! However, a range of indicators point to some positive developments. GST collections is one good indicator. Railway-freight traffic, petrol consumption, peak power demand, electronic tool collections, among others have all given us a picture of incipient signs of the economy picking up some gravitas and strength and momentum. Though it is still too early to see the signs develop into a reality of success on the economics from the signs are welcome and must give the public much hope and confidence.
After all public opinion matters a great deal and the common man’s outlook also matters a great deal. The other recent steps to put the cash in the hands of farmers is yet to make an impact, the free rations and the 100-days employment scheme is also a stimulant, though we need a more sound and systematic agriculture proposals as the most critical requirements.
Yet the CII and through its Director-General, Chandraji Banerjee, has voiced his concerns. He notes that in order to carry forward the current positive signs he wants the prevailing restrictions on the industry to carry forward long-term plans.
This is a tricky issue. The Corporates always want to have things easy. The Corporates don’t have other broader and social and economic visions of sorts. Economics in India is also not merely about profits and losses. It is much more. Then these are about livelihood for the poor and also about caring for the community as well. That is one reason why the villagers have survived all through the hard times and there is a sort of social bonding that is a real altruistic age old values that held the Indian society as an integrated entity. Rural India in this sense is a great surviving force and these survival instincts distinctly an Indian characteristic today’s the materialistic politics or the value-absent money grabbing power politics that dictate our day to day politics we witness today.
Our democratic politics is no more democratic and it is all about mere jungle warfare!
What are the new agri policies that we hear about today? The government talks about putting cash in the hands of small farmers, right? That is fine but then there are long-terms questions. How serious we are about ensuring a sustainable, long term health of the farming systems and future of our farming families? Small farmers are fine people, they are still clinging to their age-old small pieces of lands but how long the government hopes or beliefs in their sustainability?
We need some structural farming systems, somehow we have to pool the farmers into some sort of co-operative or collective systems. The new concept of farmer’s societies is one new innovation and we need further thought and reforms. No politician or political class has given any thought beyond lip service and that too only when some inconvenient question comes up.
We need a racially new way of thinking, we need thinkers to think about these issues. Where are the dreamers, the rural utopia builders and there are still some youngsters left to dream these new collectives. One young IT professional came on our online agriculture video-conferencing with a community farming system and community farming living. That was inspiring.
There is no alternative to rural co-operative enterprises and we need further conceptualization in this direction. There are now new farming systems and experiments in new types of cultivation.
In horticulture, there is ultra density cultivation of mangoes and other fruit trees, mixed fruit trees and such experiments. These are a few examples where there is much enthusiasm and experimentation and we at our media venture introduce such new ideas though our video conferences. Instead of talking rural politics, helping to build rural vote banks that seem to be the end goals today, we need to pursue more constructive ideas in our rural development issues.
Of course, India seen in the context of developed world countries, remains pathetically poor in many areas and so there is enough time we think ahead in time to introduce new rural economy’s new opportunity.
In all European developed countries, all rural dwelling have been now converted into agritourism outlets. This is one new opportunity. Tourism is a thriving industry and our rural housing too must foresee such rural tourism projects integrated into our rural development. Our present tourism industry, even in the cities is poor or as good as nil!
So, the future for India’s rural hinterland is very rich our cultural heritage. Remains largely neglected. Our ministers must tour abroad and see how tourism has emerged as the biggest industry even in developed countries like UK, Europe and also in terms of tourism related services industry. So, should envisage for rural India and its rich geographic and historical heritage as a new opportunity industry.
The sky seems to the limit!