It can only be a slow process!
The very global surface, it seems, is one of vast barren land, stretching miles and miles of unending desert land, looking like newly discovered forests and uninhabited empty spaces or other desolate stretches. That never end. This is the impression I got recently after seeing a series of new videos of Soviet Russia, the transSiberian. Railway journeys and also the transAustralian jobbers. From Perth to Sydney. What a waste of Nature’s bounties, I wondered.
Yes, agriculture everywhere, in every continent, including in Europe seems to be struggling for its legitimate place, legitimate existence. A recent write-up in the prestigious London Financial Times daily says that agriculture is on the wane and farmers concerns, that is finance for farming just one per cent of the requirement. Though India being the poorest country in the world in terms of various parameters, from the point of virw of per capita income or other indicators. And in spite of various promises, election promises included ,made for such a long period since independence, our villages remain poor and our livelihood indicators are also very disappointing including the post Modi period. So we find now in a very difficult context when we have to really seriously think about how to raise agricultural incomes, when we also have a separate department called, the Department of doubling agricultural incomes!
Is it so straightforward to raise incomes from the agri sector? Very relevant that we are all now. Caught up with the problem of rising. The income levels and also raising agricultural productivity. By all means. How to create more jobs in agri sector? How cogenerate more employment? How to really make agriculture a paying proposition? Theft write up begins with the first sentence: farming is a risky proposition>Of course we who had been under the British rule know well how many famines and how many deaths, in fact mass deaths, the British rule caused over the many centuries they ruled. The writer of this column lives in a city, though he has agriculture as his traditional occupation. So when we write on agriculture the writer knows well that he is touching upon a subject with which he has been struggling almost everyday. Only those who have some direct touch with farmers and farming only can speak the truth or truths about farming sector challenges.
There is food shortage in the world and there are countries and where food supply is still in severe shortages. So we needn’t elaborate here more on the usual official versions of schemes and promises made and implemented partially or fully. The fact remains that farming is still in distress; the many schemes are based on leaders and parties who live in the cities and draw schemes for others to practice and for the scheme makers to win votes and perpetuate their rule.
There are now some new developments due to Covid Pandemic and the lockdown gives us some new incentives to try new techs like Online Agriculture. Vadamalai Media has been in the print media business for a long time and now we have switched over to online agricultureinformation service providers. It is heartening to note that now more and more visitors come to our site and there is a gradual buildup of capacity and every day twice there is a respectable crowd of visitors to get the latest information about various new crops to be tried and new technologies to be deployed.
Much more encouraging is the fact that many new comers, like those educated and employed in highly lucrative sectors like IT companies and those who are bored with the high-tension jobs find agriculture a new outlet for a relaxed life style. So we can expect that in the new changed situation more and more highly qualified persons, from traditional or even from the new generation might find agriculture and rural environment more appealing. It is also the time and placebo devise more new avenues in agriculture and more so in the horticulture, fruits and vegetables’ very attractive areas for new investments. The governments must try new investment opportunities in these sector for these new non-traditional farmers and new entrepreneurs. Also, the new generation of educated families, youngsters from these families have entered into agri sector.
We need new schemes and investment opportunities for those educated generation of new entrepreneurs. We have featured in our online services of such new younger generation of agro entrepreneurs. There are other sensitive issues like land reforms. In Karnataka, for example, there are some new land reform law changes, to allow non-farmers to purchase agricultural lands. This change is welcome on the face of titbit and needs further consultations. Also certain age-old ideas of equality in society lasted to very inequitable laws. Who says that inequality originates only in agriculture?
Also, there is the current stark reality. An average farmer in India, we say is either a debtor or a litigant. This is the age-old problem. This social reality of thermal India and the life of farmers need much debate for new ideas, so that agriculture and rural India come to terms with the current socio-economic and cultural realities. We saw in the event Pandemic that some 50 crores of migrants returned to their homes in the vast stretch of North India. Now, we imagine the very same crores of migrants must have returned back to their old haunts. They must have done so for it is the new Indian reality no Indian agri policymaker might have suspected nor even if he or she knows, might not have openly said so. This is the new Indian rural reality.
Unless you create an environment that staying in the rural areas and making a living with dignity and honour is possible no amount of financial allocation can keep and retain the rural migrants in their traditional rural haunts. So, we are saying in conclusion that. You have to think radically, allow people where they are and employed, profitably, we hope and let the situation change gradually but with a steady commitment to give freedoms to farmers in the way they want.
Let the migrant labour remain where they are outside of their own states and gradually let us build a new changed rural context where the current many ossified laws get rejected and new, many more liberal laws come to govern the way agriculture is pursued with more freedoms in all areas and in all contexts.