Tackling the agrarian crisis, differently -V Kumaraswamy
-The Hindu Business Line
The focus must shift away from sops, to raising farmers’ income by promoting better seeds and rejuvenating soil health
Agrarian crisis is staring on our face and, as usual, a flood of familiar suggestions have resurfaced. The political responses have been on expected lines.
Fixing MSPs (minimum support prices) at 50 per cent over costs is as disastrous as it can get. There is no inherent incentive in cutting down the bill on government or the rest of society. It may be possible in Western societies where 2-10 per cent of farmers depend upon the rest 90 per cent, but not in India where 50 per cent are in agriculture.
The sinking water table, largely due to free electricity, even in the land of five rivers (Punjab) is an example of poor policy-making.
On the contrary, when West Bengal used to charge farmers and residential units the same rate for electricity, the water table in the State was pretty stable as the farmers used the resource judiciously.
The basic problem is that our agriculture sector is producing more than the demand, even when its productivity is way below world standards. And we have compromised the soil health massively in the last four decades, so the costs are increasing way beyond productivity gains.
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