India, the world’s second largest food producer, is witnessing growing distress and declining confidence in agriculture as most small and landless farmers, with less of a stake, are found to quit farming
The recent unseasonal heavy rains, thunder and hailstorms originating from unusually intense western disturbances from the Mediterranean interacting with the south-easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal have ravaged the due-for-harvesting chana, lentils and wheat in Madhya Pradesh, mustard in Rajasthan and onions and grapes in Maharashtra. Instead of an expected bumper harvest on the back of excellent monsoons, farmers reaped only misery.
Compounding it is the Model Election Code of Conduct stopping any relief for months. It is well acknowledged that Indian agriculture is inherently risk-prone by being highly susceptible to weather variations. According to a nationwide survey, 70% of over 5,000 households polled, reported crop damage in the last three years and the present National Agricultural Insurance Scheme cover is far too inadequate.
India, the world’s second largest food producer is witnessing growing distress and declining confidence in agriculture. Most small and landless farmers with less of a stake are found to quit farming. Sharad Pawar, union minister for Agriculture blames the highly fragmented small holdings for making agriculture economically unviable.
Our Food Security is heading for an alarming toss going by the grim statistics in a Bharat Krishak Samaj commissioned survey on ‘The State of the Indian Farmer’:
- Agriculturists willing to quit farming to move to cities 62%,
- Farmers who don’t see future for children in farming, preferring higher education and settle in towns 60%,
- Youth keen on continuing farming constituted only 20%.
Mere holistic fixes like subsidies, procurement policies, minimum support prices (MSP) have been failures, loan waivers have not served their purpose as the prices obtained by the farmers are far below those charged to the ultimate urban consumers.
Interestingly, the survey, reiterated the best kept of secrets of the benefits of the Governments’ farmer-related schemes are invariably availed only by few rich farmers to the detriment of many few.
The loan repayment and interest waiver schemes don’t benefit the many poor who have availed credit by borrowing from the money lenders at usurious rates of interest leading to suicides. The large and rich farmers borrowing from commercial and co-operative institutions abuse these facilities.