Why farmers are not cheering their exceptional feat this kharif season -Richard Mahapatra

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published Published on Aug 19, 2020   modified Modified on Aug 21, 2020

-Down to Earth

Highest rice acreage in six years, more farmers in farms, a bounty monsoon and an expected bumper harvest don't enthuse farmers as their earning dips  

It is a piece of news that everybody would love to cheer about, except those who made this possible.

The current kharif season is exceptional. In comparison to last year, over eight million more hectares of farms are under cultivation this season.

There are more people engaged in cultivation now due to the huge reverse migration of workers after the countrywide lockdown over the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Most of them are those who had quit farming.

All types of crops have reported an increase in acreage. But the increase in acreage of rice — the staple crop in kharif that sustains the maximum number of farmers — is the highest in the last five years. The monsoon is expected to be above normal.

To add to the cheer, the State Bank of India (SBI)’s latest research report shows that the agriculture sector has been immune to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather, this is the only major economic sector that would witness a growth rate of three per cent this fiscal year; the rest are going to shrink significantly.

Before this, to provide relief to farmers amid the countrywide lockdown, the Union government increased the minimum support price (MSP) of 14 kharif crops on June 2, 2020.

Hopes float in the corridors of the finance ministry. Many have started talking in terms of this fuelling the revival of the country’s economy, if not this fiscal, then definitely in the next one.

Basically, it is premised on the belief that an increase in agricultural yield will lead to more income; and this, in turn, would lead to more consumption among rural Indians. So, the revival of the rural economy would ultimately add on to the sluggish national economy.

But, as usual, farmers don’t seem to be jubilant. In recent times, they don’t see a natural correlation between their physical yield from farming and that of income from it. Rather, the more they produce, the less they earn for their produce.

This is despite the consistent increase in demand for food in the country. Immediately after the declaration of MSP, farmers were on streets, demanding more assured prices, citing huge losses even with enhanced support price.

India ranks second in agricultural production globally, overtaking countries such as the United States, Russia and Brazil. But our farmers’ per capita income from farming is negligible in comparison to these countries.

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Down to Earth, 19 August, 2020, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/agriculture/why-farmers-are-not-cheering-their-exceptional-feat-this-kharif-season-72929

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