It is time we draw investments in farming.
It can be done only when we stop populist slogans in agriculture and also curb the corrupt politician’s hypocrisies!
Vote-bank politics had ruined farming sector!
The latest issue of The Economist magazine carries a special article on agriculture biodiversity (September, 2015).
It makes an interesting reading and also distressing.
Interesting for the new information we get. How climate change is likely to accelerate the agriculture biodiversity and also destroyed many new crop varieties. The Asian rice varieties were replaced by testing the new wild varieties; some 6,000 of the wild varieties were screened and identified to accelerate the biodiversity. The loss to agri productivity is estimated at 1 billion dollar worth.
We all know of the richness of the biodiversity and the need to protect and save them for our future generations. Not the climate change is hurting the diversity of crop varieties.
UN talks about the population size, UN FAO talks of how by 2050 we need to produce 70 per cent more food and this can come only from the now existing 30 crops that can 95 per cent of the energy from the food we are likely to consume.
Now, as for the Indian agriculture, there is a deeper crisis now.
Farmers are resorting to suicides almost on a daily basis. There is also a crisis in some significant sectors like the sugarcane cultivation, sugar production and sugar surplus.
This has also added to the distress in agriculture. Now, there is drought and also there is stagnation of sorts on the agri exports front.
We all know that the global economy is also a cause, China’s stock market crisis also added to the sugar surplus.But one thing is clear.
The new government of Modi is seen as unable to tackle the fundamental crisis in the farm sector. The usual policy responses are to wipe out the farm debt, extent farm credit and also go for some large-scale solution.
This, the new government is unable to do. May be the government has its own reasons like financial stringency. Already the budgets are squeezed.
The Prime Minister or the Finance Minister is not talking of the crisis in Indian agriculture. This is unfortunate. This magazine is published not by any corporate house or it is part of any big media group.
This media, Vadamalai Media, is published by a farming family and of course we have been educated abroad, two generation of Oxford educated and yet our roots are in the villages, we do farming even now and thus we claim to know firsthand the real issues in actual farming.
As it is, farming is fast becoming unviable for a vast number of farming families. The land holdings are also becoming marginal, unviable, at less than one hectare for most small farmers.
The new generation of farm families now have educated youngsters, both boys and girls and in many cases the youngsters are employed in urban centres or gone to the USA, are employed in the IT sectors.
Also, the land ownership is also caught in the many contradictory laws. The land ceiling makes farming unviable for new investments.The many tenancy laws also make farming a tricky business. Most farming families have litigation in tenancy or land property disputes.
The populist governments, both the states and the Centre are another issue that complicates matters in the villages.
Tenants don’t pay and the laws protect them.
So, who would actually do the farming?
This is the dilemma.
So, we welcome the recently announced NITI AAYOG formula to make the land contracts, say between the tenants(actual tillers)and actual land owners transparent so that any new investments are protected from uncertain litigations.
Today they are not. Unless you make laws clear, not risky, no one would put the money in farming, please note!
Also, please take steps that all land-farming related litigations are disposed off within a time limit.
Now, there are many agencies, most very corrupt, the revenue, tehsil offices, also village assistants are all surviving by taking bribes and also prolonging the litigations.
The plight of the Indian farmer today, is as deplorable as it was when in 1885,Allan Octavian Hume started the Indian National Congress!
How to make Indian farmers debt-free?
It looks Dr.Arivind Panagariya has some new ideas. Let us wish him all success. Let us hope that something new, a new deal, will come out of the new government.