After all, we are one of the three big agriculture nations!
But what is happening in agriculture policy making today?
How much attention we give to agriculture
And the people depending upon it?

prabhu-1The recent WTO ministerial meeting in the distant Brazil ended after disappointing those countries who wanted to improve their trading gains by securing food and also getting some foothold in enhancing the farm subsidies regime that is, as everyone knows, heavily tilted in favour of the rich and the powerful with the tag of developed country status, the USA and the European Union. It is unfortunate that bureaucracy under the Modi regime is as divorced from the actual cultivators, the big and the not so big farmers and thus, a lone Mr.Prabhu, the minister, was the only voice we heard by way of what happened in the WTO meet. Much of what the minister was supposed to have said or argued was lost in the reporting, though the official news agency, the PTI reports were too were not very enlightening.

This is one of the many tragedies of the Indian agri sector.
If this is the situation at the level of a magazine like the AIS, we can imagine how many other sectors, the mainstream press added, not to speak of the TV channels.

Why not the Boardcasting Ministry funds some preventatives of the mainstream media? Why not specialist agri press be excused.
The corporates engaged in agriculture, like tractor companies and other big ones in diverse sectors must have raised to the occasion. The FICCI must rise up from its slumber.

It should not consider it a big occasion once the Prime Minister visits them.

There must be much more than the very formal ceremonies.
Our media which sell sin rural areas hasn’t done its duty towards its own media responsibility.

Why don’t you interview either the minister, surely the battery of officials accompanying him to say something sensible for the public to understand why the AWTO meet failed in its objective?
After all, India is going to be the biggest, one of the biggest three great agricultural economies of the world.

So, we have a critical role to playing shaping an agricultural policy for the world.

So, there must be a better coverage of the agricultural issues in our mainstream press.

It is a pity that we as the largest producer of major food grains, wheat and rice, don’t have a significant voice in determining  major agriculture policy for the rice producing South East Asian countries.

We ask the government of India to send some press delegations to these great rice producing South East Asian neighbours so that we can exchange views.

Let the Agriculture Ministry wake up so that there are better public  relations between the agri bureaucracy and the leading agri lobbies.

It is unfortunate  that the gap between the farmers lobbies and the agri bureaucracy is so wide. Even in Delhi, the headquarters of the agri ministry, why even the ICAR must be functioning at the very centre of the city.

They ask you to travel to outskirts and this puts off many.
Will the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO)take note of this suggestion and pass on the news to whomever it concerns?

Who is the agriculture minister anyway? Not many seems to know!
So, please make the Indian agriculture the every centre of all other policy making.

The Indian villages would remain for all time to come, right?
Anybody, who is big enough in Indian politics knows this reality?
It looks no one seems to be interested.

Only when election time comes, unfortunately, as we have seen in the recent Gujarat elections, that too, when the campaigners  turn the rural, farmers vote into one of caste vote banks!
This is really a silly turn of events and this mentality must go!
Farmers must become a powerful lobby, it is a reality in the European countries that farmers lobbies there are really very powerful, very united and so that the farmers meets become the very powerful political events. Not is so in UK, in France and even in other developed countries.

Yes, we are a very complacent nation, people. We take our politicians seriously.

We are leader-worshippers! We worship power! We get easily deceived by catchy slogans.

As a nation we are still immature and easily
misled.

So,dear readers,once you are interested in agriculture,it demands an active participation.

Prime Minister Modi’s major speech on agriculture

PMIt is nice to see that the Prime Minister Mr.Narendra Modi  made an impressive speech on India’s  agriculture sector and  India’s Food Processing   sector. Many things the PM touched and we welcome his observations.

The PM said how India’s potential  in the agriculture  sector is  such that we can produce diverse crops, from grains to fruits and vegetables to many other specialised  crops of such historical importance like spices, tea, coffee and many other rare spices that changed the very course of India’s history. The coming of Vascoda Gama to other colonial past is now we consider India’s traditional strength in the Indian agriculture sector.
The PM said that  private sector must invest in contract farming to strengthen our base to become a  strong player in the food processing sector.

Yes, this is a timely call.

There are many issues here, we all know. Agriculture &Industry Survey, singlehandedly, has been fighting for a place in the sun, so to say!

What does this call for the private sector to invest in contract farming mean, finally. Is it a call for the big corporates, or MNCs?

Or, it is a call for millions of our farmers, big, medium and small and even tiny farmers who are traditionally engaged in this segment?

We want to emphasise here, rather in some unpleasant manner, that unless you make investments in agriculture easy for the traditional farmers, it is going to be a call for some new distortions already that had led to over the years of our own Freedom that deprived the traditional farmers all their freedoms. Is there any incentive today to invest in farming activities?
This is of course an unpleasant question.

We like to submit to the attention of the Central government, no less the State governments as well that we have to relax the current rigidities that have crept into the various anti-progressive views of what the countryside is going through.
The per capita land parcels is becoming more and more unviable.
So, relax the regressive land reform laws.’

Make a ceiling a viable proposition. At least for the traditional big farmers you must allow a minimum of 100 acres. For specific high tech farming businesses you must still allow more acreage. Also make tenancy laws and other restrictive acts out of date!
Please allow the rural countryside a liveable place for new generation youngsters to live and invest and start contract farming and other rural businesses.

So, let us be clear about one thing. Don’t allow entry to MNCs and even Indian big corporates to buy our hundreds of acres of lands as a gift.

Once you allow the big corporate  there would be chaos in the countryside.

So, let the PM realise that no big corp0rates  would enter the countryside with co-opting farmers as shareholders.
Monopoly enterprises, please forbid entry into the small farmers intensive crops farming.

Yes, the secondary processing industries may be allowed investments.

One Amul co-op brought glory to India. So let Indians innovate and let Indian farmers learn to investment run co-ops on commercial basis.

Any MNC in food processing might ruin the nutrition basis of foods. Pepsi and Coco cola  have been proving how ruinous is  the entry  of MNC food giants and the health of the people, including in America.

So, any wise food policy must go beyond investments and 2,000 number of participants,200 companies and 30 countries must not lull us to give up on the health impact of some of the American foods! MOU’s worth 11 billion dollars shouldn’t let the hon’ble Minister Harsimrat  Kaur Badal into any missteps.(Photo of Harsimrat Kaur Badal).

What urban India owes back to rural producers?
Create one more body with specific goals to uplift and safeguard farmers!

CSR-Farming-2As we write there is news about one more farmer committing suicide in Yavatmal district in Maharashtra. Yes, this is one more routine news?

No, it is not. It is one more reminder of the callousness of the Indian polity and society. As a media venture, though small and modest and not   making too much noise or giving in screaming headlines, as the cousins  in the electronic media does, we at the same  time wants  to sensitise the  seemingly greedy power  seekers  who are entrenched in power and  authority.

After Mr.Took over power in Delhi, of course the new government had brought out the many skeletons   in the cupboard!

We saw how the m any activities, from collecting party funds, election funds to NGOs collecting huge sums, something like Rs.50, 000 crores at the last count and the money received in contravention of laws, why even in violation of the foreign contribution of funds to the NGOs and when the last few days we hear of the huge unaccounted funds at the disposal of the political parties, there is a hue and cry of sorts. The big parties avoid appearing in the courts of law!

Yes, black money in elections is no more news. So, we win elections, form governments and go about our business with total impunity.

So, we have all the inequity, in equality and injustice as our current realtiies. And yet, what we try to do to bring some sanity to what we pretend to represent by way of leadership?
We leave it to the best judgement of our readers and they can draw their own conclusions.

Now, as for agriculture and rural India, we haven’t even murmured our views, right?

The big corporates, once they were derided when Socialism was high in the political firmament as “running dogs” and much worse. Now, of course times have changed and the corporates, big and not so big are all welcome.

But in the new enthusiasm for   growth and development and still more for governance, new words signify new hopes and aspirations.
Fine, then what have you done or what have we done   for the marginal sections?

Agriculture and rural India are now changing of course .All the new changes, the coming of the Internet, smart phones and the spread of Internet in rural areas are all creating a new vision for rural India.

But then nothing happens on its own and that too when it come to revolving and redressing the many new inequities, inequalities and injustices, right?

The new measures like crop insurance are welcome. But then this is a great task. To create a more open, conducive atmosphere in the rural areas, you need a series of measures. The government machinery alone can’t do many things in these ares, everybody has seen it and though we don’t openly, we all know there is so much inequity when it comes to even accessing the many government schemes.

So, we need NGOs, more than anywhere, in the rural development fields.

The new corporates, the ones flush with big funds, the IT giants and the other top ten or twenty billionaire led names, they should all been  engaged with their  funds  and expertise to take, say, the crop insurance to work successfully.

Do we hear any such big visions or big commitment from them? No, not at all! They talk sometimes bombastically and that it all.
Why not ask some private banks to undertake the distribution of farm credit in select segments?

The CSR (corporate social responsibility) scheme is a flop as far as we are concerned.

For instance we asked one head of a corporate (the name was on the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council). The response to our contact was rather impolite!

The corporates seek to influence the government. That is plain. We have come across so many instances in the recent past, how the big and mighty all fell at the many corruption scandals!

So, we like to ask for a new scheme that would give corporate responsibility specifically in the agri sector.

How to prevent and ct in advance over the farmers’ suicide prone circumstances?

Let some great minds, those who had accumulated big profits come out with some corporate responsibility for preventing farmer’s suicides?

Is this a big task? An impossible task?

Now, we read that the MNC PepsiCo is introducing   Stevia sugar added 7UP drink! Fine. Why not take up additional social responsibility for organising Stevia cultivation on a systematic manner?
We have spent almost a lifetime in such questions! So, we don’t elaborate further. We only ask our urban-based powerful segment to  look at the rural India with a much more sensitive spirit ask yourself you have  enjoyed your green foods, organic vegetables and fruits and lead a healthy life style, then ask from where all the goodies of a happy life at your urban dwelling come?
What have you given back to communities who silently toil and supply these for you?

Building a brand name for agri media!

Political climate critical for media freedoms to thrive.

droughtfarmers1News is not information! Only controversial news is news! In agri sector there is no scope for controversies, except farmer’s suicides! Even that doesn’t make new3s now! So, agri media must get between social and political recognition.

See even the agri universities don’t make news! No one reads what the agri scientists write! How to communicate with the common man? This is what makes Vadamalai Media unique in the otherwise commercial media space.

Vadamalai Media is now publishing four monthly magazines, mostly related to agri sector and the education field. We have evolved by now over half a century. We started off in a village where we established a rural high school and a school newsletter that has grown into a full-strength education journal. It is now an all India education journal.
The agri magazines, now three editions, one in English, Tamil and Kannada languages and they make a sizeable market, given the scope for educated farmers and all those who are committed to the vibrant agricultural sector.

The urban media and the urban elite readers are a different cup of tea.
The readers for even the quality English newspaper, experts say, are thriving in India while in the West here is a decline.
May be Indians are like the British newspapers, they read the English newspapers, though there is very little in the way of writing on agri issues and the readership is also tiny.

But our agri sector is ill-served and there is no media worth its name as far as agriculture issues are concerned. Agri media where it is, as in Tamil for instance, all write about agriculture as if it is an exotic sector. Anything exotic, readers read it.

Cultivation of exotic crops, cultivation techniques etc. is that all about agriculture. What about farmers lives? Their rural life style, changing rural economic and social scenario?

There is much emphasis on pro-government programmes. Not any critical remarks. Even farmers suicides are not fully analysed. There are not enough writers, journalists to write about 6 Indian issues.

Since we operate on small scale, we often concentrate neither on crops, cultivating techniques nor even about the current buzz on organic farming or biotechnology.

Big news organisations must do that but they don’t. We don’t want to name the big print media houses. Two of them, long and well-established, started publishing agriculture magazines, annual issues but they now stopped them. We, on the other hand arte going strong? This is our 25th year! So, something we have achieved?

There is no one to notice us, right?

No government advertisement support nor support from private corporate houses either! We, Indians have a peculiar character, we in Vadamalai believe! We Indians don’t love our country genuinely, we feel.

We imitate the West; we seem interested to read more about the British royalty. We like cricket, in a country where such a sports was an exoticism, once. Now, we wonder whether we really appreciate and enjoy cricket or for the sake of fashion?

We also have an inferiority complex, a subservient mentality and also a craze for changing jobs, a change in life style, from dress to food to imitating the Yankee life style products.

We don’t yet seem to have cultivated a sense of pride in our country, its history etc. A pride, a justified pride in India’s inherent strength in its culture and belief system are not there.

Our agri media is all about these issues not just about cultivating loss-making crops! We have built up a brand for forthright, no non-sense bold exposition of fundamental issues of great national and intentional importance. We invite our readers to respond to some of our thoughts.

Give more freedoms to farmers!
That is the way to increase investments and agri production!
Indian agriculture is now orphaned!  For lack of patronage and awareness!

farmersCorporate support is almost nil and the government is no less negligent. Why we say this at this juncture?

For the obvious reason that even otherwise, there is a traditional bias against agriculture and the issues associated with the sector.
You become better informed about the issues in the current state of agriculture. The sector is almost burning with frustration, helplessness and by the apathy of the government.

We, Indians, rate ourselves very high when it comes to government jobs. We, the educated sections, consider still government jobs are heaven-born and heaven-given! Any government job is so. From the village level revenue collectors, up in the hierarchy to the district collector. Yes, during the British days, the revenue clerk was highly rated. The district collector was beyond the reach of even the high-born Indian families. Do you know that the first Indian ICS, one Satyendranath Tagore, from the Tagore family became the ICS officer but was never elevated beyond the district and he ended up as the Satara(or Kolhapur?) collector only? Only the white man was good enough for the job! Now, do you realise that there is a sort of disquiet among the IAS officers, in some states, there is disquiet even among the IPS officers?

The reasons are many. First probity in public life is a scarce thing and so too other factors that discourages, rather than encourages the youngsters once considered the heaven-born occupations. Why this preliminary?

For the simple reason things are much more worse today. It is easier to become an MLA or an MP or much better even a minister! Once you get political power the temptations to misuse are irresistable. So, the corruption issue crops up and no one seems to realise whether you are worth your salt and worth listening to.

In such an environment and when you want to draw attention to the agriculture sector the thought or doubt comes whether you are qualified to talk on a subject like agriculture.

Even after 70 years of Independence, you don’t seem to have got a grip over the vital sector like agriculture. Dr.M.S.Swaminathan says that 50% of our working population are farmers. As he rightly says the Seventh Pay Commission pay is given to the government servants and insulated from inflation while the poor farmers are subjected to the wild swings in prices and punished!

But then at the same time, we see agriculture issues and topics are still debated in highly artificial jargon which most of the farmers might not understand. Issues like Ever Green Revolution, even MSP and the procurement and other policies that are routinely dished out. It looks even this is the current buzz of the government, as repeated by the PM on the Independence Day, of doubling the farmers ‘income in five years! Is it well-thought out policy, or just one more slogan?
How the government hopes to do this, no one bothers to ask or bother to explain.

We also don’t seem to know even who the agriculture minister is today, for he never speaks or appears in public or tours the states!
Anyway, here we are in the journal labouring for years and years. No one bigwig, not speak of others, in the public life or corporate world comes forward to call us or express any opinion, let alone any appreciation, to give advertisements from the corporate funds.
Yes, we did ask one or two, one from a person who sat on Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council (!)Who flatly said no!

Where are our high profile corporate heavyweights? The ones who also speak a lot on public platforms and yet who seem only interested to seeking instant publicity!

Where are the corporate social responsibil9, CSR, funds going to?
Education or medical education? Or, public health covers?

See the hospitals in Gorakhpur or in the advanced state of TN, in Ambur where two persons died for there were no government doctors present! The much more damaging sight was to see a small girl’s body was lifted on a two wheeler for lack of ambulance service! There are so many, much more serious issues for farmers! Dr.Swaminathan doesn’t say so but we say: every average Indian farmer today is either a debtor or a litigant!

Farmers commit suicide out of shame to live a honest life! Shame for being unable to pay back loans kills them. So, too other harassment is the daily living struggles. How many know that the farmers are tied to many antiquated laws, land reform laws passed in the initial years of zamindari abolition and other laws like land ceiling ad tenancy protection and other rural-related laws were passed long time ago.
Today there is labour shortage, ironically in agri sector, do you know?
There is a fast urban migration, many had abandoned farming. So too the younger generation has been migrating. What impact this trend would have on agriculture? Anyone with an answer?

We have to strengthen agri trade and agri exports! Time has come to integrate with the WTO decisions for the developing countries.
Now, we have had economic reforms but not in agri sector! Why? Because no one has an answer!

Now, market forces are in full play and yet agri sector is tied up with some of the antiquated laws that constrains and controls farmers from continuing with farming as a business proposition.

In the private sector environment who would invest in agriculture, for crops or for new generation agro industries, if you don’t allow the farmers to own some viable farm size?

Yes, agri sector is more complicated than what the government servants sitting in the government offices or engaged using public funds!
The point is that farmers don’t live in a liberal rural society.
Our justice administration is as antiquated as any other. No civil cases end any day soon. The life span of the average farmer is not even better than the life span of the court cases!

So, you have a mouthful of issues to talk about. That is for another day, it looks like!