Agri minister in New Delhi, RBI in Mumbai talk. Their talks or reports don’t translate into visible activities at the grassroots! Agri minister wants us to believe he has enough food stocks. Fine! But their prices of grains are rising in the open market and the food for work programmes is likely to slow down! The RBI wants banks to computerise, deploy IT tools. But at the grass roots banks are still a nightmare for the average farmers!
NPA had become a curse word for an ignorant branch bank manager. But we read about NPAs for priority sector! But the NPAs of the top 100 big defaulters are a great official secret!
But be sure, the Indian economy is changing for the better. We believe the Indian agriculture too will change by its own internal dynamics!
Our agribusiness activities have created a positive impact on a large area of agriculture India. That gives us hope to do more and to take our practical sense-based agriculture development projects on a wider scale.
What awareness we have created is creating an internal dynamism among the community of all beneficiaries. Farmers, small and big, farm businessmen, agro-entrepreneurs, many service providers, seed and other inputs suppliers, besides the transporters and a body of agri experts, raging from experienced hands to new entrants with much bright hope to serve rural India and many others who all come into our network to innovate many new enterprises using agriculture as the base for new wealth creation.
Our print media and Internet agri- information portal’s many initiatives had created an entirely radical new perspectives and a entrepreneur-friendly public opinion, of course it is still largely an urban public opinion, as to a healthy Indian agriculture sector. AQ sector that can hope to stand up and face competition from across the globe in the fast changing, WTO-driven world agriculture scenario.
So much for the positive news. The negative side is also very much to what ails agriculture. In Karnataka alone in the first three months of this year, 36 farmers had committed suicides! This was stated in the Assembly by the very agri minister! Leave aside Vidharba or other extreme geographies. Is this not a shameful state of affairs?
The Prime Minister, in a stiff official fashion had admitted the drastic fall and even declaration in agri production statistics. But the PM is a bureaucrat first and then only a leader of sorts. What does that mean? It means many things for us.
First, the government’s promise of ensuring agri credit for farmers is not yet a reality! We didn’t want to mention the banks and their many short-comings. But we have to do so in the name of so many farmers whose hopes are dashed everyday by the unending delays on the part of banks, in some cases, banks play irresponsible roles. India’s biggest PSU bank, India’s biggest private sector bank! Yes, they had proved our trust in the banks is a bit misplaced! In some projects, the SBI, the biggest PSU bank, is setting wrong example. In one project, after making some 50 farmers, small farmers to run around and get 31-year solvency certificates etc. the branch manager refers the matter to zonal office where they talk a different language. Bankers have become another set of bureaucrats. Delay, delay and further delay.
The project as we go to the press seems still a question mark! The private bank (ICICI) pestered us to come to them, phone calls, after phone calls! We told bluntly : no we don’t believe private banks! No, please, come! That was the plea! After they got hold of our project, silence! After a few days they say : we haven’t yet taken a policy decision on farm lending! Our confidential project documents are now with them!
We wonder :is there a Finance Minister for India? Is he responsible for the farmers’ plight? Or, who else? No wonder, the farm sector decline is impacting on Indian policy makers? Merrily, Sharad Pawar, in his typical doublespeak, one day says the govt. would import wheat and on the next day denies! So too the official “spokesmen”! How can anyone believe these double talking government. We are not being unrealistic! If there is a shortage, please import. But don’t make the farmers or the public believe your official doublespeak!
So, Indian agri sector declining for the very valid reasons. There is no heart soul-searching at the government. The government sticks to its official police line. But the policy is not lifting agri sector from the declining trend. That is all! Readers can make their own judgements!
Farmers are with empty hands, banks are flush with funds, Nabard doesn’t know where to park its surplus funds! But the government is not seriously recasting its strategy to drive investments in the agri sector. In the same group another set of 50 farmers had been financed by another PSU bank and they had completed their sowing operations!
So, how do you judge this government? The PM’s concern for fall in agriculture output? The Finance Minister’s claims to accelerate agri credit? Or, Mr.Sharad Pawar’s machinery to monitor the agri-operations? It looks for us, at this distance, the PM, FM and Agri Minister don’t seem to use the computers or they have no Internet monitoring mechanism. They of course don’t even reply to letters from even persons like editors or experts. They obviously, don’t have the time or care to read any of the magazines devoted to specific subjects.
So, what do you do? The Agri Secretary (Ms.Radha Singh) had spoken in Malaysia asking the Malaysian investors to put their funds in agro-based sector in India. She says the investment potential in Indian agri/agri-infrastructure in the next ten years is assessed to be at Rs. 11,172 crores!
This sort of talk we have heard for so long and it is a bit tiresome to hear bureaucrats and scientists from public platforms.
What we like to tell this government is this : please allow ,enable Indian farmers, Indian investors to invest in the agri sector.
Investors/contractors in road building sector are now paying negative deposits. Government gets income by giving contracts to private investors! Why don’t you allow investors in the agri sector. With the sort of restrictions under the land reform laws, only fools will put their money in the land! So, create a liberalised environment where at least certain categories of agro-ventures, say ventures for exports could be exempted from land ceiling laws. Or, new technologies in agro ventures like cold chains, processing etc. We have brought small farmers into our contract farming projects. So, there is no log is that big farm projects would displace small farmers. We can innovate, innovate and innovate endlessly.
All you need is brains and utter honesty of purpose!
Any readers who read our pages would find that in every page we have tried to give the readers only those information that is relevant to make farmers lives easier. But the government machinery in Delhi and the State capitals are cast in a pre-computer age mindset.
Give us 100 government officials! Totally under our control! With suitable powers for us! We will transform Indian agriculture without asking the government for any funds! Not even one rupee! If IT had demonstrated one thing it is the power of innovation. What is absent in Indian agriculture is the capacity to innovate and move ahead!