We don’t need more ideas to solve, but we do need more ideas on how we can implement effectively. 6 committees set up to study Vidharba crisis, Planning Commission, National Commission of Farmers, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Gokhale Institute of Development Studies – all have solutions good enough to solve the problem across the country.Scientific:
1) Knowledge about amount of pesticide and fertilizer required – Can best be served by Soil Health Card. Follow Gujarat Model
2) Knowledge on what crops must be grown depending upon soil condition and market demand – best served by agricultural scientists.
3) Personal advise by agricultural scientists per village so that planning is done before venturing into new types of crops – Follow Gujarat Model. According to a field study being conducted by A. Janaiah of the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP), Pusa, 4.9 million farmers in Andhra, or 83 per cent of the community, are in debt mostly due to unplanned commercialization. In Punjab, it was the unplanned and unprepared shift to horticulture (growing lucrative vegetables like tomatoes, brinjal or lady's fingers) along with high spending in marriages (dowries) and usurious moneylenders (often charging 36 per cent) that pushed farmers to desperation.
4) Spread awareness about rain water harvesting and build check dams so that water is stored and underground water tables can be replenished – Follow Gujarat model.
5) More scientific ways to store procured food grains.
6) More emphasis on indigenous research to develop high yield seeds like how Thailand did the same recently
1) Government must regulate MNCs who supply seeds. They should be properly tested.
2) Government prohibits MNC’s whose seeds do not bring in expected results.
3) Reduce the prices of such seeds so that the amount of loan needed to grow crops will also decrease – Good example is when YSR Reddy’s govt’s agriculture minister took MOSANTO to court in Andhra Pradesh and consequently MOSANTO reduced the seed prices by half.
4) Make it mandatory to test seeds before given on a large scale
5) Set up more agricultural universities or research and testing labs at places close to farming lands so that personalized study can be done and directly help farmers there.
6) Set up Special Agricultural Zones (SAZ) like in Gujarat to process and store food grains or crops at specific places where they are grown in bulk. Follow Gujarat Model. This is the best-decentralized way to tackle the crisis. Choose a place where crisis exists and set up a center with all scientists, irrigation experts, agribusiness people and many others to jointly work and ensure good yield, good output price to farmers.
7) Implement many of the recommendations of National Commission of Farmers (NCF) of which one of the interesting recommendations include rural non-farm livelihood initiative in the form of agri-business centres, food parks and other rural non-farm employment programmes by restructuring agencies.
8) M.S. Swaminathan said, “Land reform has been implemented with seriousness in West Bengal and Kerala. The other states also should complete the process of redistributing the ceiling surplus land to the landless poor. We also need aquarian reform which will help the poor to take to aquaculture in inland ponds and reservoirs. Since land is limited our approach has to be one of asset reform dealing comprehensively with land, water, livestock, fish pond, forestry and non-farm livelihoods, so that every individual has an opportunity for earning the minimum amount needed for a healthy and productive life.” This must be followed.
9) Rethink by the government on what import duties must be put on imported items such as cotton. When proper prices are not given to home grown cotton it should also not reduce import duty on imported cotton. If government reduces import duty, then farmers won’t get proper price. The cotton industries are making good profits, but cotton farmer is committing suicide. If government is forced to reduce import duty, it must give subsidies to farmers like that given in US and UK. This of course is a little difficult, but reducing import duty will help. At least more subsidies must be given for pesticides and fertilizers as this incurs as a major cost.
10) Revive seed banks and start community seed banks
11) Hold MNC’s liable to contempt to court in case of seed failure or soil contamination
12) The insurance policies must be set up against crop failure (due to weather, natural calamities or shortage of water) and this must be a part of banks rather than government agencies. Government agencies will never give insurance money to farmers. Banks should compensate in terms of deducting outstanding loan amount so that accountability and corrupt free system exists. Gujarat government must follow the latter as already insurance policies exist.
13) More Self Help Groups (SHG) must be set up so that NGO’s, cooperatives and other entities are involved in distribution of loans or other monetary mesures
14) More encouragement to private companies to own villages to transform. The best example being ITC and the way it transformed the lives of several farmers growing soya beans in Madhya Pradesh who are getting right prices for their produce.
15) Introduce Contract Farming across the country wherever suitable where farmer is bound to a particular buyer for a particular produce at a particular price (with a little subject to market volatility). If there are too many contenders to buy farmers produce, it will bring competition and eliminate intermediaries.
16) Encourage Direct Farming wherein farmers directly sell through their own markets rather than intermediaries or commission agents. These middlemen are one of the root causes of farmers not getting right prices. But no government will make changes as the middlemen form a considerable chunk of vote bank. So there should be a competition established between the two so that farmer will immensely benefit. One way to do this is to have physical connectivity and infrastructure to eliminate geographical isolation of markets and the other is contract farming as explained in previous point.References:
National Report on Agricultural Indebtedness published in Hindu newspaper