oppn parties Farm Distress: Myopic Response Will Make it Cancerous

News Snippets

  • Amit Shah says the government will identify and deport illegal immigrants from all parts of the country
  • Reports from Pakistan confirm that Hafiz Saeed has been arrested and sent to jail
  • After the SC order, Karnataka Speaker says he will go by the Constitution in deciding on the resignations of the 16 MLAs
  • Rebel MLAs say they will not attend the trust vote on Thursday
  • Supreme Court rules that rebel MLAs cannot be forced to attend the assembly and vote in the floor test
  • Both the Centre and the Assam government have sought re-verification of up to 20% of draft NRC data
  • Pakistan opens its airspace for Indian planes
  • Dilapidated building collapses in Mumbai, killing more than 10 people while many were still trapped
  • Kulbhushan Jadhav case verdict to be delivered today by the ICJ
  • A Vistara flight landed in Lucknow with just 5 to 10 minutes of fuel left in the tank
  • Supreme Court to decide on Karnataka MLAs plea today
  • Karnataka alliance to face floor test on Thursday
  • China says that the next Dalai Lama will be appointed by it
  • Pakistan assures India that no anti-India activity would be allowed in the Kartarpur corridor
  • Pakistan to allow visa-free access to 5000 pilgrims every day to undertake pilgrimage using the Kartarpur corridor
ISRO calls-off Chandrayaan-2 mission launch at last moment due to technical snags. revised date will be announced later
oppn parties
Farm Distress: Myopic Response Will Make it Cancerous

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
There are three ways to tackle a problem. One is to take a short term view and solve the instant issue. The second is to ignore the instant issue and work to identify the real issues and set them right. The third is a combination of both. The government has chosen to apply the first solution in case of the Maharashtra farmers and given an assurance that it will move towards the third solution. But usually governments ignore a problem once the instant issue is solved. Now that the agitating farmers have gone back, the loans might be waived, the electricity bills might be neutralized and a higher minimum support price might be declared. This response is like applying band-aid to an infected wound. None of the real problems that beset the agricultural sector and that allow the situation that leads to such waivers will be addressed.

The farm sector in India is starved of government investment. The farmers are expected to raise the capital themselves. But small size of holdings and low yield does not make it remunerative for them. Hence most of them lead a subsistence level existence. The need is for the government to build agricultural infrastructure, introduce new technology, educate the farmers (and here one is talking about real education and not the one like ‘krishi darshan’ on state television) to rid them of long-held but outdated farm practices, make farmers start cooperatives to process their produce at the farm itself (there are many items that need just basic processing to add value), eliminate too many middlemen, invest in farm cold-chains and warehouses. Raising minimum support price can be counter- productive. What is needed is putting in place a mechanism whereby farmers and their cooperatives add value to the produce and reap the benefits themselves instead of allowing middlemen to do so.

Although the farm sector contributes only 15 percent to the economy, it employs nearly 50 percent of the workforce. Since aspirations have been raised sky high, every farmer wishes for a better life for his children and that includes giving them a good education. Since education is costly, meager farm incomes are not sufficient. Hence, farmers borrow both for agriculture and children's education. This situation can only be reversed if farm incomes are brought to a decent level by providing technological, infrastructure and marketing support to farmers. Subsidies can work only up to a point. The real problem will be solved by making farmers earn more through an innovative approach to marketing that eliminates middlemen and by employing the latest methods to improve yield. The problem of small holdings can be overcome partly by starting cooperatives.