Indian Agriculture: Going nowhere

August 4, 2007 — Leave a comment

The Indian Prime Minister has raised concerns over the crisis in Indian agriculture. Manmohan Singh said,”But we cannot be complacent till the growth becomes inclusive and socio-economic development benefits more than half the population, especially in rural areas.”

With an economy that is growing at around 10%, what went wrong?

The government opened up the Indian markets to importers but they did not do enough to educate the farmer – to innovate, to adopt best practices – to bring out better produce. When we opened up our markets, our farmers should have been allowed to export their produce. But poor facilities and ancient farming practices did not get approval for the Indian produce. Today, farmers are leaving their professions and going to cities where there seems to be more hope.

The main issue that the Indian farmer faces today is the middle-men. Brokers who stand between the farmer and the trader/retailer. It is these guys who make most profit out of the whole deal. And the farmer is left with pittance in the end. What is the government doing about them? Sure, they started farmer markets (where farmers can come and sell their produce themselves) and other farmer-consumer initiatives. But have they really helped? Each one of them has been a good example for poor execution.

For a country who has such a large farming community, enough may have been planned. But very poorly executed or not implemented at all.  Dr. Singh talks about complacency. Complacency is found in the government offices that need to help and aid the farmers. There is a need for a revolution. Not on the streets but among the government officials. Among the farmers. Somebody’s got to pay attention and execute right. It is not just enough that billions are set apart for their relief. But it is important that it reaches them and they are able to stand up again and do this country proud.


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