Agriculture in India is describes as the backbone of Indian economy mainly because it constitute the largest share of our country’s national income and growth of other sectors depend on agriculture sector to a large extent. Vast majority of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood especially the poor and vulnerable sections of the society.
Accordingly it is important to set a proper policies for a sustainable progress in this sector.
Since independence India has been facing food shortage and major aim has been to increase food production and improvement of the agriculture sector by policies such as land reforms, green revolution and adopting better technology since the 1970s. However in recent years the policy makers seems rather pessimistic in the outcome of their policies since they seem to be totally unprepared with situation like bumper productivity of agriculture in 2017.
In contrast to less production in the previous year leading to high prices, which has led farmers to increase their productivity with the expectations of earning more but with no regulatory prices in agriculture products the drop of prices not covering even their input cost lead to heavy debt and loss. As a result agitation started from Madhya Pradesh which spread to other states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan with farmers being killed during mass protest in Madhya Pradesh and suicide ever increasing. Demands ranging from loan waivers, minimum support prices, implementation of swaminathan commission report. The problem face by farmers today is not due to low productivity but rather due to high production which led to downfall of prices lower than their inputs prices which needs radical solution moving away from old policies which were meant for increasing and developing agriculture sector. There is a need for permanent solution to farmers problem rather than short term solution such as loan waivers which amount to 1.34 crores in maharashtra alone and minimum support price (MSP) demands of 50% made from different states will take a heavy toil on the economy both at the centre and state. So there is a need to adapt our policies to changing scenarios with the intervention of the government and policies makers.
Decrease in consumers capacity :
The policies makers should not neglect the fact that more than 58% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood. To ignore farmers crisis would eventually effect the economy since the consumption level of 58% of the population will be affected and without consumer the economy cannot grow. As a result crisis in agriculture sector would have adverse effect on other sector as well.
Price regulating mechanism :
The major problem face by farmer arise from downfall of prices due to bumper harvest, forcing them to sell their products below their input cost which leads them to heavy debt. Inputs prices increase due to market oriented input sector and acute price rise of fertilizers such as urea and DAP (diammonium phosphate). Hence there needs to be strict price regulating mechanism to avoid heavy decrease or heavy increase of prices in agriculture products irrespective of high production or low production to balance consumer and farmer needs at the same time. Also certain uniform price system should be set up to remove factors that could lead to exploitation of farmers or selling of their products below reasonable prices to wholesalers or market agents.
Increase in food base industries :
India being second largest population in the world it is needless to say that consumption capacity is huge. So the second solution can be setting up more food base industries where agriculture products can be put to good use and avoid wastage of resources. Rather than just focusing on only services and industrial sector, removing the distinction between growing industrial sector and agriculture sector, a combination of both sectors can be establish which can also lead to increase in service sector. This steps will also lower the imports and act as a feul to increase export of goods.
At the mercy of monsoon :
Unpredictability is the story of farmers of India. Too much reliance on the mercies of climate and weather change of nature has brought farmers to conditions like flood, drought or this present situation of bumper productivity. There is growing need to advance our irrigation system to make water availability consistent and increase dams, draining system to preserve water to avoid flood and sustain water during drought. This will facilitate certain range of predictability in o ur agriculture sector.Inshort better coping system to tackle climatic changes.
Efficient trading system within Indian states :
When we think of trade it is likely we neglect the domestic trade that exist within india. But there is growing disparity in the domestic trade in India. To cite an example while fruits prices are low in northern India, in North East States prices begin from Rs.100 onwards.So agricultural products can be channel within india with more efficiency and uniformity to avoid resource disaprity and increase consumption level.
Recent government policies :
The recent government policies such as demonestisation and prevention of cruelty to animals 2017 have impacted negatively to agriculture sector. The expenditure capacity of traders and consumers alike was depleted to a large extent by demonestisation. On top of that animals such as cattle, bull, buffaloes are assests of farmers recent strict rules headed by police and cow vigilatante against trading of these animals will add to the already distress farmers.
Although there is a need of policies changes there is equal need to revisit the socialist economic approach that was once implemented during 1950s. As the invisible hand of the market or capitalist system has failed to take into account the debt crisis of farmers, price fluctuations and more than 3,00,000 farmers suicides in two decade that has been encounter by the Indian farmers. The welfare system government needs to pay attention to this crisis and provide innovative policies and ideas to have permanent solution to farmers distress. Changes should be brought to remove factors that cause heavy debts to farmers and provide certain securities to times of crisis or natural calamities. Also setting up uniform price system to create stability and protecting farmers from market agents acquiring goods from farmers below uniform price level. Lastly, the government should step up to end this trend of making farming a game of risks, gambling even their lives at the end. Since ‘Agrarian crisis’ is a trademark of colonisation it is expected that after more than 70 years of independence farmers would have better conditions than it does at present. Now is the right time to re-quote Jawarharlal Nehru’s statement ‘Most things except agriculture can wait’.
(The writer is a student of Manipur University)
Source: The Sangai Express