There must be a way to stop this national shame!
Is this not a national scandal?
This spate of farmers ‘s suicides after a two generation efforts in ending food scarcity and ushering in the Green Revolution and ensuing self-sufficiency in food production?
Now, at a time and a critical phase of our agricultural modernisation when already India is number one in milk production and sugar and also in a number of other products, coconut and certain spices, not to speak of the horticultural products, Maharashtra was number one in so many crops like grapes and wine-making, mangoes, strawberries and pears etc, we see now a reverse trend of sorts. A spate of farmers’ suicides, first it was cotton farmers and now suddenly sugarcane farmers and taking to the extreme step for the simple reason that there is a surplus of production, prices fall and exports dried up.
Are these the only reasons? Or, are there some unstated reality issues like sugar companies didn’t keep their accounts under strict control, they over-borrowed and accumulated debts and went for unthought diversifications and for a time they multiplied their sugar factories that they couldn’t sustain in the long run.
Yes, these facts and factors are also to some extent explained the current accumulated debts of some sugar company groups.
Certainly the guilty are also the sugar company management.
The Economic Times wrote an editorial where it was said that a combination of political patronage in return for party funds might have contributed to the present defaults by the sugar companies. Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have some of the biggest sugar factories and also biggest corporate.
ET says that it is a mix of many motives, to give a long rope, so to say, to the defaulting factories in consideration of their political funding support and also the sheer irresponsibility on the part of the Sugar mills and their associations and lobbies that had led to the present plight.
Maharashtra is well-known for the politicians hold on the sugar co-ops. Very much like the BCCI and IPL went for the kill and that saw the two years of time and energy wasted by the Supreme Court over the misdeeds of the political powerful.
Now, what has to be done?
Much can be done.
One is to set up farmer’s distress call centres at strategic points.
Nabard, Agricutlural Insurance Corporation and such specialised bodies have to come to take up such a responsibility.
Second the PSU banks are another defaulting entities.PSU banks must be geared up for taking up funding the distressed farmers.
Crop loans are okey. But there must be emergency distress funding at the call of the farmers.
The district authorities, the tahsildars and the staff down below must be entrusted to attend to the distress calls.
Very much like a telemedicine service.
There is also good business opportunity for the private sector investors.
Why, even the IT sector can enter into this sector.
For example, we at Vadamalai Media have our own private initiative; we started it as an online diversification of our agriculture print media venture, namely, www.agricultureinformation.com.
Today this website, we claim, as the largest one in the agriculture in the world! Readers, viewers can vary for themselves our claim and we get visitors everyday in hundreds. You can see that we have now some few lakhs of visitors’ everyday!
We are also trying now to diversify our information and data.
There are now various new initiatives under experiments.
Visitors post their queries and there is an answering system. Why, there is more than one such service.
We try to organise groups of farmers, other dairymen and other sector participants into various discussion groups divided by the sectors and interests.
This service is now more than a decade and we are still learning many new things. New challenges come and also new solutions and new experiences.
The point here is that Indian agriculture needn’t no moiré only under the domain and control and monitoring of the bureaucracy.
New business can come out with solutions in this very basic economic segment,
Of course government initiatives and support are needed to serve such a sensitive and weaker segments of activity.
Readers’s views and comments are welcome. Thank you.