Why we have to take agriculture seriously?
Why agriculture and the Indian village eco-system must get priority in our policy making?
Vadamalai Media is basically an agri media publishing company. We are in this media line for over a quarter century now! This sustainability obviously seems to be easy. But in reality it is an uphill journey. Though we talk at length about agriculture it is often phoney talk, agriculture always has been used by vested interests, outsiders, politicians and businessmen, among others.
You know what the commitment of the politicians is. In the recent drought conditions that still persist, in spite of the latest monsoon showers in some parts of the country, we saw the farmers and villagers were left to themselves, more so in a region like Bundelkhand we sway harrowing times for the drought-hit population that also migrated in large numbers to nearby cities.
So one new lesson in drought hit conditions is that farmers now leave for the large cities.
So, can we say that large cities can mitigate the drought challenges? It looks so. May be large cities have the capacity to provide jobs, higher wages and even drinking water and food.
So, in order to sustain agriculture activity we need large cities. Urbanisation is an enabling factor in farm sustainability.
Let our policy makers realise this truth.
So too agriculture is also needs some more new definitions and interpretations. Agriculture, especially for the new generation educated farmers, yes there are a new bunch of determined and committed educated farmers, either from the traditional farming families or even the new comers from various new fields like IT sector.
We have on our website a wholly new breed of highly educated IT hands, ones who had even went to the USA and worked and earned much and yet at the end of the day they get bored or tired with the mechanical life style the IT jobs entail and they come back and engaged, unbelievably in farming activities. Many new and innovative farming practices they adopt and the much-used word, innovation is as much you can see in IT sectors as also in the agri sector.
In fact, the scope for digital technology in agriculture production, management and logistics and trade and exports is immense. This we say from our own experience in this media.
More and more of our online activities, websites, outsourcing etc is being done through smart phones and our customers are responding, e-commerce is now one of the fast growing segment of digitisation of our activities.
Agri media is a non-existent industry in India. You scan any language in India and the language publications as a whole are suffering for lack of custom.
In this email and SMS and smart phones people seem to have all their information on their finger tip. So, printed magazines are in decline.
Even venerated publishing firms in the mainstream journalism either closed down their printed version of agri surveys or magazine publishing.
They are, into high bandwidth TV shows, with sensationalising trivial happenings and so one leading TV news channel calls itself as the only quality news channel, a premiums channel and others are just TV tabloids.
But what is the point? Media, big or small, class or mass, has to operate in a prevailing socio, economic and even cultural environment.
We publish not in English language alone. We also publish in Tamil and Kannada languages. Some time ago we also published in Malayalam language!
So, we have had enough experience to claim some inside knowledge of publishing. Now into Internet publishing, we have our own agri portal: www.agricultureinfromation.com, perhaps the world’s largest agri portal with many thousands or lakhs of visitors.
The future looks bright with many startups, especially in Bangalore and though we are a very old company in matters of new innovations we operate some of our new initiatives as start-ups.
With the VCs knocking the doors, who knows how the future would unfold?
We are a very quality conscious organisation and thus we are very slow to change, perhaps! Now, the serious point here is that we have to educate more and more of our politicians, the policy makers, the bureaucrats and also our businessmen, among others, ultimately the general public.
Agriculture in a new country, though large Indian agriculture is still primitive when compared with what we see in the West. In the USA and UK and Europea, some of the European countries like Belgium and Netherlands and the latest Israel, there is a great deal of innovation plus micro, intrusive agriculture.
They specialise in one crop, say flower cultivation and they become world leaders in that particular field. In India it is still vast, large scale dry crops or water intensive crops like wheat and rice.
India has of course some advantages.
We are number one in v bulk commodities, rice and wheat export, sugar export and spices. The point is that Indian farmers must become more knowledgeable about the future scope for e expansion and to seize the new opportunities.
We have to know more about the commodity trade, commodities prices, how to track them etc. This can b done now easily than before thanks to Google and smart phones.
Also, the new services available like our own small media activities. Already some new revolutions like e-commerce and online marketing, linking all the marketing societies must give us inkling as to what is coming in future.
Agriculture can become once again a profitable activity.
This is possible in this Internet age. We, the farmers, experts must become experts in reading the movement of daily commodity prices.
There is, right now a steady fill in the exports of all of our major export commodities, you know?
Also the major agri export sectors. Also, the many trade pacts India has with different countries. India is a powerful, major agri exporter and this is our core strength.
Besides, we must also know some of the global developments in agriculture and related sectors like seeds and agri chemicals. Right now, as we write there is the new deal of a take-over by one of the world’s largest, why even the monopolistic giant, the German major Bayer chemical company takes over the American agri seeds company, Monsanto! They are almost a century old companies. Like other entities: Dupont-Dow, Syngenta-ChemChina. All these companies control two-thirds of the global agri-chemical business and over 60 per cent of the global seed market.
And lastly, the American agriculture. What happens to American agri sector affects the whole world. Indian agriculture is directly impacted by the US agri sector, its prices, its exports and imports.
So, Indian agriculture should be seen not a poor man’s game. It is a global business for the small and not so small farmers.