What Govt needs to do ?
- The government needs to improve the profitability of cultivation by “getting markets right”.
- It needs to invest in water to fulfill its slogan of “har khet ko pani” and “more crop per drop”.
- The government should be focus on Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of food and fertiliser subsidies to the accounts of targeted beneficiaries.
- The government should ensure that the new Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) delivers compensation to farmers in time.
- They should free up land lease markets.
- Buying directly from farmer’s groups (FPOs).
- Setting up logistics from grading, storage to movement, and linking them to organised retail (including e-retail), large processors and exporters.
- An easier way to improve farmers’ profitability is to open up exports of all agri-products, without any restrictions, and allowing private trade to build global value chains, keeping the Essential Commodities Act in abeyance. This would require a change from the current pro-consumer approach to one that is focused on farmers.
What are the reasons for not achieving desired results?
- The policy of minimum support prices (MSP) has not improved profitability of cultivation in the last few years.
- Farmers’ returns have done down in the case of most crops. The situation is worse for producers of basic vegetables like potatoes, onions and tomatoes. Prices of these crops during the harvest time plunged to about Rs 2 per kg in the last season while the consumers were still paying Rs 15 to Rs 20 per kg.
- Attempts to reform the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) markets on the lines of the model act of 2003, and now through the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Act, 2017, have not
achieved much success.
- The e-NAM scheme, which is supposed to create an all India market, in order to ensure better prices to farmers, has not succeeded so far.
- Inter-mandi and inter-state transactions are very rare
What government needs to learn from other countries?
- It is right time to accord higher priority to micro-irrigation (drip and
sprinklers) to achieve the objective of “more crop per drop”.
- Israel and the US could be good examples to follow: Israel has the
highest proportion (99 per cent) of its irrigated area under micro-irrigation while the US has largest absolute area (15 m ha) under micro-irrigation
- The third area for action should be DBT of food and fertiliser subsidies.
- Investment in water resources and Upgrading the market infrastructure.
- To free up land lease markets for long periods. China allows land lease for
30 years so that corporate bodies can work with farmers, bringing in their best expertise, inputs and investments.
Ways to improve the income of farmers :-
- MSP and procurement is one of the ways to improve farmer’s income.
- There is need to improve productivity.
- For any real increase in income, farmers require higher returns for their produce
- The marketable surplus from agriculture has to be enhanced.
- Need to look at making a value addition to biomass.
- There is need to devise ways to lower the cost of production and reduce the risks involved in agriculture such as pets, pathogens and weeds.
- Addressing the ecological challenge requires more technology while the economics requires more public policy interventions.
- Professor M.S. Swaminathan, founder of the M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation noted that it was high time that the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers to provide the minimum price of the total cost of production plus 50% are implemented.
Impact of low income of Farmers have raised the issue about farmers committing suicide all over the country..
What needs to be done to address farmer’s suicide?
- There is need to analyse the cause of farmer suicides.
- Some serious thoughts need to be develop to reduce the cost of farm production
- Paying sufficient compensation in case of crop failure.
- Provide awareness and agricultural education to farmers
- One of the first projects was initiated in Vidarbha to rescue children and give them education
- After the concept of green revolution, the new concept of the Evergreen Revolution came up. This will increase farm productivity but without ecological harm.
- There is need to declare fertile zones capable of sustaining two or three crops as Special Agricultural Zones, and provide unique facilities to farmers to ensure food security
- Soil health managers should be appointed to monitor and ameliorate the soil conditions in degraded zones and rectify defects like salinity, alkalinity, water logging etc
- The idea of more crops per drops has been successfully implemented in Israel. India need to adopt that practices here also
- Post-harvesting technologies like threshing, storage etc will have to give greater attention
- There is need to adopt genetic modification technology to improve yields of food crops
- There is need to develop efficient regulatory mechanism for GM in India.
- The organic farming need to be encouraged. Even genetic resistance to pests and disease can help organic farmers
- The food security act must be implemented properly to address the situation
- India should also enlarge the food basked to include nutria-millets.
Why is farmers’ income low in India?
- In China, farms are owned by the government, and farmers are mere contractors. But in India, land is owned by the people.
- All policies are today is related to corporate powers.
- The Green Revolution of 1967-68 have resolved the food crisis in the short run, but the heavy use of pesticides and high-yielding varieties of paddy have resulted in environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity.
- Climate change is one of the major problem
- Both less rainfall and a higher mean temperature affect farming adversely
- Presently country is witnessing drought, excess rainfall, sea-level rise
- The problem of economic viability of farming is one of the rising input prices such as for fertilisers, pesticides, and seeds and stagnating output prices as MSP is not rising
- Erratic rainfall and drought are the most important factors affecting farmers
- The farmer sells his produce for a fixed MSP, but when he tries to buy the same from the market, has to shell out a higher price for it.
Steps to increase farmers’ income :-
- There is need to set up multi-disciplinary monsoon management centre in each drought-affected district, to provide timely information to rural families on the methods of mitigating the effects of drought
- Animal husbandry camps could be set up to make arrangements for saving cattle and other farm animals because usually animals tend to be neglected during such crises
- Farm loan waivers are posing a bigger burden on the government exchequer compared to what higher pay for farm produce will incur
- India’s ranking on the Global Hunger Index has become worse over the years and country missed out on the Millennium Development Goals of halving hunger
- Unless land titling recognises female ownership of land for cultivation, half of India’s farmers cannot claim institutional credit.