In the contemporary times, the Indian agricultural scenario is running far away from the philosophy of “You reap what you sow”. The government’s data on almost 3 lakh farmer suicides in the last 20 years itself stands as a litmus test. So, where we are going wrong? This question may seem straightforward, but it encompasses many reasons, such as:
1. Government’s urban driven policies.
2. Maladministration of farming policies.
3. One size fits all approach to deal with different types of agriculture.
4. Short-term measure like loan waivers instead of long-term solutions.
5. Changing climate and variable rainfall pattern is also a serious issue.
6. Disintegration of landholdings, rising fertilisers cost and paucity of resources.
Therefore, Indian agriculture is now in doldrums. And despite being a majority of the population (61.5% as per agricultural census 2011) dependent on it, Indian agriculture hardly contributes to 7.68% of total global agricultural output. It is for this reason only, despite India ranking second in overall agrarian production next only to China, our country’s export basket hardly offers huge crop diversity and is still lagged by subsistence production.
So, in order to deal with this menace, technology exchange programme has been proposed as a vital solution. The mutual benefit programs with agriculturally advanced nations can really prove to be a game changer for Indian agriculture, as it can have intended benefits:
1. It will bring the required innovation in our agriculture.
2. The transfer to modern methods and more efficient farm techniques can help India, like Israeli water management in agriculture.
3. It would help India to move onto the aspect of profitability in agriculture than productivity.
4. Improvement in economy on the scale of agriculture and its integration with the global value chain, as China did.
But this remedy of transfer can only support India’s plan to a limited extent, as India’s vision to double its farmers’ income by 2022, will need more than an external antidote. Therefore, some intrinsic solutions mentioned below can genuinely help India in realising its agricultural potential:
1. Announcing a fair MSP (Minimum Support Price) for farmers.
2. Taking a different approach for irrigated farmlands and un-irrigated areas.
3. Focusing on Food Nutrition Policy.
4. Digitalising agriculture in a holistic value chain manner.
5. Strengthening the warehouse facilities and cold storage infrastructure.
6. Innovating the climate-smart agriculture technologies.
7. Development of allied sectors such as horticulture, fisheries etc.
8. Promoting organic farming and sustainable farming with more vigour.
Then only, India can reclaim its title of “Sone Ki Chidiya” and truly embark on the journey of Agriculture Revolution. In this regard, the introduction of Soil Health Card Scheme, PM’s Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Fasal Bima Yojana, National Urea Policy, CHAMAN and NAM initiatives are positive inputs. Even the development of Zero Budget Natural Farming by Indian agriculturalist Shubash Palekar should be celebrated for the fact it integrates sustainable agriculture keeping in mind the concerns of farmers and biodiversity.
So, we can clearly see the noble vision of our government and its people and truly hope that if all goes well, doubling farmers income by 2022 can easily become a reality. India’s agricultural distress needs to end for good. As Jawaharlal Nehru rightly pointed out,
” Everything else can wait, but not agriculture.”