Safeguarding India’s Farmers - Eastern Mirror
Friday, March 24, 2023

Safeguarding India’s Farmers

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 21, 2022 10:28 pm

This may sound strange but the fact remains that while food grain production is on the rise, farmers’ distress have touched a new low in the country. Registering a growth of 1.7 per cent in 2021-22, the country’s food grain production will touch 316 million tonnes. It’s a pity Farmers’ income has not registered any such increase, rather it is witnessing a steady decrease for quite a long period of time. Although various efforts have been made to improve the income of the farming community including higher Minimum Support Price (MSP) or loan waiver schemes, none of the measures have proven to be effective in making farming a lucrative profession in present day India. Rather, poor return from farming is either compelling farmers to commit suicide or to look for a new profession. This is not an encouraging trend for the Indian economy as agriculture used to be India’s backbone, not too long ago.

Generally, income goes up with the increase of production and the same goes down with declining yields. But In India, just the opposite is happening mainly because of the overwhelming presence of middlemen in food grain trading. It is an open secret that despite strict laws and vigils in the market, prices of food grains completely depend on the whims and fancies of the middlemen, preventing farmers from being adequately rewarded for their toil and investments. This is why the farmers are apprehensive of bumper crops as more production will mean that the middlemen will purchase the yields at throwaway prices. The farmers are forced to dance to the tunes of the middlemen as they have neither sufficient funds, nor adequate facilities to preserve their yields.

The dominance of the middlemen in the agriculture market can be checked by taking two simple steps. The first should be to ensure a mechanism that allows Food Corporation of India (FCI) to reach maximum number of farmers to purchase their produce on MSP, instead of asking them to come to the market and incurring a huge expenditure. Small and marginal farmers, who are not in a position to spend such a big amount become easy prey for the middlemen.  Secondly, there should be adequate arrangements for the preservation of the food grains to prevent excess selling in case of bumper yields.

On their part, the farmers should also unite to form a cooperative, making it easier for FCI and other similar organisations to reach them easily. It may be mentioned here that farmers’ cooperatives have a strong presence in Maharashtra and Punjab. But the role of these cooperatives are mainly limited to providing loans to the farmers. Rarely do these institutions play a role in marketing, which needs to be changed. All these cooperatives should do well to follow the Amul model wherein the responsibility of the milkmen ends with depositing their stocks to the cooperative which in turn takes the responsibility of pricing and marketing. Such a cooperative movement should be launched across the country to save agriculture in India.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Feb 21, 2022 10:28:07 pm