Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Agrarian Vicissitudes & Farmers Woes

The recent happenings related to farmers agitation in Mandsaur and neighboring Maharashtra speak much of the difficulties being faced by farmers in various parts of India. The main issue it seems was support prices fixed by the Government for the crops. But as always this community is facing many problems and concomitantly related issues arise up as well during such events. Though the present Government has tried to fulfill their legislative priorities regarding this matter the agitation is an indicator that much more has to be done.

In face of adverse situation all the past political rhetoric and promises come to naught and rank political opportunism acts as fuel for raging blaze. A political color has been accorded to the agitation and there have been instances of instigation by opposition parties as per TV reports.

Out of the context but prospective political parties and politicians should count on the ability to provide good governance rather then limit themselves to being noise makers. With the death of some protestors the agitation  turned violent and spread to neighboring districts. 

India is an agrarian economy with more than half of its population living in villages which is dependant totally upon agriculture as means of survival. To make matters worse most of the land holding in India is divided amongst large families with each eventually holding small piece of arable land.

Even large land holdings in absence use of micro fertilizers and rampant use of chemical fertilizers like urea have had a disastrous impact reducing soil fertility in some regions. Dependency on monsoon rains which if insufficient can result in failure of the crops. The country has a large infrastructure for field irrigation but it caters only to one third of area.  

For small farmers the scale of economy is often unviable and hence susceptible to many vagaries that make the industry subject to frequent failures. This is the reason behind the losses farmers incur especially those with small capital base. They are frequently encumbered with loans they are in no position to pay back. This travesty has resulted in continuous spate of suicides in many places in India.  

In spite of induction of modern technologies and techniques the problem relating to the income of farmers in India persist. The production economy is not bound by the high or low yield of crops alone the distribution network, storage, transportation, middlemen nexus and unstable pricing all contribute to the downfall now and then.    

The problem is further compounded by associated inadequacies like availability of seed,  some variety of which are exorbitantly priced. Albeit the formation of organizations like NSC & SFCI along with State seed corporations helped in supply of improved seed variety but for poor farmers procurement problem remain. Anyway in general conditions are improving in this matter.

In case or manure and fertilization procurement problems of poor farmers remain. Cow dung is an alternative but more is used in rural kitchens thus limiting the option.  Germs weeds and pests are a persistent problems that farmers face.   Biocides are required in large quantities to curb the menace but indiscriminate usage  results in environmental pollution  and risk to human health.

Most of the farming in the country is labour oriented in absence of mechanisation. This results in increased labor costs in low yield fields, and waste of labor force as well.  For efficient and timely production, mechanization is required on larger scale.  Infrastructure for development of machines and equipment is on increase but we have a long way to go.

In order to avoid distress sales a sound marketing mechanism and adequate storage facilities are required. Heavy dependence on middlemen, money lenders and local traders results in low profitability for small farmers especially in case of those indebted. Hence easy availability of loans at lower rate of interest is the order of the day. Availability of capital on easy turns with less stressful repayment systems is a must if the small farmers have to see betters days in India.        

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