The performance of the country’s agriculture sector in the economy and the life of the common farmers are becoming difficult day by day. As much as the economy has changed in the last thirty years after the implementation of new economic policies, the agriculture sector does not seem to have had a positive impact. In that, there is a lot of discussion about the new laws that have come now. But, how much actual benefit the farmer will get from this should be considered.
The post-independence Green Revolution of 1965, which gave the agricultural sector the respect it enjoyed, is no longer the case. Agriculture is not profitable, the idea that one of the family should farm and the other should work has also started to take root and on the other hand India’s import of agricultural goods is also increasing. Self-sufficiency of oilseeds and pulses has ended and we have become an importing country. There is a need to revolutionize the agricultural sector at all levels from production to distribution.
Prime Minister Modi had announced on 28 February 2016 that his government would double farmers’ income by 2022. The year 2022 was about to pass but this time some people obviously remembered the Prime Minister’s announcements.Whether farmers’ income or expenditure is doubled, this is certainly a matter of research. Along with this, it is also necessary to check that if the income has actually doubled, by how much.
However, if we check the reality of the promise of double income, we see nothing. According to the 77th round of the National Sample Survey, the net monthly income of an average farmer family from agriculture in 2019 was only Rs 816.50. Now the question is what difference would it have made even if the income had been doubled in view of this inflation?
To increase the farmer’s income, it is first necessary to reduce the cost of agricultural inputs and increase public investment in agriculture. Secondly, the purchase price of agricultural produce should rise to such an extent that the farmer gets a certain level of profit so that his family can live with dignity. As recommended by the Swaminathan Commission, the minimum base price should be fixed on the basis of C-2 + 50 percent formula. Thirdly, there should be a significant increase in rural employment. The issue of permanent public sector job recruitment cannot be left aside. MNREGA should be implemented on a large scale in this context.
Agricultural products include cereals, cotton, sugarcane, vegetables, fruits, flowers, orchards, tea, coffee, spices, forestry, animal husbandry, poultry, dairy products, etc., which are produced by farmers and farm laborers as raw materials. It includes capital in the form of expenditure. There is no doubt that the increase in inflation and the continuous reduction in the subsidy amount have increased the input cost tremendously.
Through the production process, the goods are sold at a fixed market price in the form of finished goods, a significant portion of which is consumed by farmers who are themselves producers of raw materials. The amount of added value that can be generated by manufacturing the raw material and selling it in the market is amazing.
A broker is a corporate broker
The agricultural agribusiness is not confined to the national sphere but has taken the form of international economic capital. Corporate dominance is being established not only in the prices of agricultural products but also in seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc. In fact, the three agricultural laws which were repealed under the pressure of the farmers’ movement were also brought in with the intention of ensuring the unhindered entry of corporates into the agricultural sector.
An important question is, why should the productive farmers not share in the huge profits made in the economic chain of production, marketing and distribution? The gap of economic disparity in India today has widened to a great extent, the government starts justifying the availability of financial resources in the name of providing minimum base price for crops and all agricultural products. It takes no time to confiscate the land and other property of agricultural laborers if they do not repay the small loans taken by them. The poor condition of onion, garlic, tomato, potato, apple etc. during production and after it is not hidden from anyone. Why does the producer of raw materials not share in the profit from the sale of manufactured goods from all agricultural products? However, the policy choices that make this possible are linked to a specific economic and political change. This is very dangerous
Besides, after the withdrawal of three laws, there is a big question about the legal guarantee of minimum base price, which was assured in writing by the central government on December 9, 2021 to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha. But in the notification regarding the formation of the committee in this regard, the government went back on its promise. Farmers are unable to get rid of debt due to rising cost of production and crop failure due to unprecedented climate change.
Of course, the share of agriculture in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not what it used to be, but it should not be forgotten that two-thirds of the country’s population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. Therefore, if we do not adopt an alternative path for agriculture and the entire economy, there is no doubt that the slogan Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas will be nothing more than talk.
Vikas Parasram Meshram is a journalist