The people’s protest against Special Economic Zones in various parts of the country, including at Nandigram in West Bengal, stagnation in agriculture, import of food grains, widespread suicide of farmers- all these are signs of simmering discontent in the agricultural sector. What is highlighted today in the national scene is the image of ‘incredible India’ and ‘shining India’. We hear about India as a country with a very high economic growth, a country with the highest numbers of billionaires in Asia. But we do not hear enough about the serious problems in agriculture.
Our government doesn’t actually seem to be concentrating on this topic much. But we can’t easily ignore it.
It was with the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1991 that the policy of globalization was concretely introduced in India. Based on this policy and the directives of the World Bank, the Indian economy was substantially overhauled. The export levels were drastically lowered and the government started reducing its investment on agriculture and industrial sector allowing the private sector to take over.
The problems of agrarian sector have adversely affected the Indian agriculture. The most prominent manifestation of this is in the drastic decline in the growth rate of food grains.
The rate of growth of agriculture was very less as compared to the increasing rate of population. And India then started to import food grains at a much higher price than that in the domestic market. Again, unemployment in the agricultural was not profitable due to the fall in the price of farm products. Finally the number of people who are employed in the primary sector and the area under cultivation decreased, which in turn caused a decline in rural employment.
The suicide of farmers is the third fall-out of stagnation in agriculture. When there is no season the farmers are left unemployed. The main reason for agrarian crisis is- liberal import of agricultural products, cutback in agricultural subsidies, lack of easy and low cost loan to agriculture, decline in government investment in the agricultural sector, restructuring of the public distribution system, special economic zones.
Finally in support for the growth of the agricultural sector, we are all aware that our farmers are in great distress. Therefore, our government should take up important measures to remove the hindrances. Better and easier banking and micro-financing should be promoted. Investment must be made especially in the farming industry. A periodic revision of the statistics of the growth and development should be made. Bold steps must be taken to implement land reforms which are not implemented in most states. An effective way of helping out the farmers could be indulgence of the youth in social entrepreneurship concentrated in the agricultural sector.
According to Dr M.S. Swaminathan, “In a country where 60% of people depend on agriculture for their livelihood, it is better to become an agricultural force based on food security rather than a nuclear force.”
The writer is a Delhi based correspondent at Youth Ki Awaaz
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