Yes, agriculture is a serious business and the government in the last three years has found that it is the agri sector, the rural sector that is proving elusive in its grand strategy of winning over people in spite of the over-all strategy of winning elections in almost all the states.
Since the Modi government took power, the agri sector is growing, the GDP is growing only just at less than 2 per cent. This, as everyone knows, that this measly 2 per cent is just half of what the growth rate of agrisector was under the 10 years of previous government. Currently, it is 2.1 per cent as per the latest Central Statistical Office. Food grains output in 2016-17 would be no more than the record 275 million tonnes.
One critical problem is the falling farm prices! So, farmers’ protests are mainly owing to falling farm prices. Farmers are also pushed into bigger debts.
These are older issues, of course. But how to deal with the farm crisis?
Budget making is one route to give some relief.
Now, we learn that the government is also deploying the intelligence agencies to monitor the rural unrest. The latest setback in a way to the government is the less than expected election victory in the Gujarat state, the home state of the Prime Minister. The rise in farm produce prices. For instance, the five-fold rise in onion prices where the nodal price has increased from Rs.561 per quintal to Rs.2,880 per quintal has raised alarm as rising onion prices could lead to strife in urban areas.
Volatility in prices could get the disgruntled groups, in the farming and also outside the sector among urban Naxals, says a report, also the Leftist groups, the one-leader parties like the Communists can also spell unfavourable publicity. The recent bout of violence in Maharashtra over the Bhima-Koraeogon issue is suspected to be the handiwork of the left, Naxal elements, says an intelligence officer. Loan waivers, higher support prices and implementation of the Swaminathan committee report are some of the demands in Maharashtra.
Intelliege3nce agencies now feed the government with farmer’s troubles that are suspect to be a step to create unrest in the political field. Gujarat’s farmers were also agitating over the slump of prices of pulses. In M.P, the farmer’s violence led to police firing in Mandsaur. And add to these farmers unrest the involvement of political extremists, Left and the Naxalites, say the intelligence sources.
So, the current disenchantment among the farmers is not just for farmers issues also, the current unrest is mixed up with political elements that are otherwise have no handle to tackle the otherwise popular vote in all the states’ Assembly elections.
May be the set-back, though slight from the point of view of the BJP but very significant for the moral booster of the Congress, the coming next series of elections is going to see the farmers issue blown up and sought to portray the Indian agriculture issues are otherwise normal or routine.
No, it is not.
The PM on the eve of his travel to Davos gathering in Switzerland gave out his views to a news channel, Times Now and we say how he responded to a major question on the issue of India’s agriculture problems.
The Pm said that agriculture is an issue for the Centre alone but for the states as well.
The PM called his own scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana, gives a lease of life in distress.But this is only a weary PM’s weak response.Indian agriculture, the PM ,also agreed should not be linked with the elections. The PM is right.
Indian agriculture must be first and foremost seen as a basic Indian reality.
There are issues of climate change, there is the recurring drought.
If you take the South Indian peninsula there is surely going to be a chance of recurrence of drought. The water flow in the Cauvery basin is going down over a long -term. There is no more any hope to look forward the old style periodic release of water from Cauvery River for TN and the issue must be tackled at a high level and some realism must be built into the court cases, into the political summits etc.
So, what the PM said about agriculture crisis is ,it seems, unlikely to be solved in the near -term future.
We as an agri media has only this much to say.
Let the government create a wider awareness of the need for appreciating the agriculture sector’s issues as an on-going over-all economic activity.
There is no point in engaging intelligence agencies to monitor the unrest in rural India.
Rural India is undergoing a structural change, so too the urbanisation process and the new urban centres where the organised pressure by the interest groups might further intensify the agitations from the organised urban groups, including the urban media that might not know the sort of underlying rural distress.
So, there will be more and more pressure for the government to adopt new approaches to rural unrest.
The budget allocations are only one step towards solving the agriculture distress.
May be we have to look at the outside world. From big countries to small countries we have to see and learn certain innovative things. Trade and exports is one way to give relief to farmers, exports ,by whatever strategies, must help raise prices for farmers.
Also, higher farm subsidies, call it by whatever name you choose.
In Thailand, we can see how the rice export subsidies have helped farmers.
Of course, the Western countries, the USA ad European Union are heavy agri subsidy-givers. In India, the agri marketing committees are seen as villains. We only plead that farmers must be given further subsidies, loan waivers and also loan subsidies.
Linking rivers, inter-state river water disputes settlements are also some of the urgent steps.
Let us become more transparent about what we do in the agri sectors.