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BW Businessworld

‘Indian Agro-Economy Faces Serious Disadvantages Due To Various Restrictions’

This disease is deep rooted in the systems, yet people often blame two factors either Demo (demonetisation) or Namo (Narendra Modi).

Photo Credit : PTI

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Owing to suicide of farmers and loan waivers, a lot of protests have been going on and this has caused a disruption in Indian agriculture sector. Different viewpoints have also been presented keeping in mind the intensity of the situation.

However, it was Shetkari Sangathan from Maharashtra which was among first in India to fight for causes of farmers. Shyam Ashtekar, one of the leaders from the Shetkari Sangathan, has shared his thoughts with BW Businessworld about how agriculture in India has become cruel.

This disease is deep rooted in the systems, yet people often blame two factors either Demo (demonetisation) or Namo (Narendra Modi). Shetkari Sangathan believes that Indian agro-economy suffers serious disadvantages due to various restrictions. One of them being Land Ceiling Act (LCA) which stops successful farmers to buy more lands, along with those who want to sell their land for a better living. It is certainly depressing for land markets. Land title act also prevents non farmers’ to own land except companies.

Shetkari Sangathan also believes that the famous essential commodities and services management act (ESMA), had been regularly used to suppress trade of agro-produce to favour industries. But it only ends up depriving farmers’ from their life requirements. This was used and still is in use of pulses, maize, onion, potato, grains and many other produces by both congress and now NDA.

It is also a valid issue in credits, most farmers visit credit agencies to renew their loans by re-adjusting arrears in the new loan amounts and same is with the private lender. They end up not paying loans for years due to erosion in income level and calamities that result from either natural causes or policy causes. Blaming both Demo and Namo for this, which had deprived the farmers, by importing agriculture commodities and lead it to another agrarian disaster.

Shetkari Sangathan also believes that Minimum Support Price (MSP) normally remains lower than actual cost of production (COP) for most of the crops. Inter-state variation is also difficult to account. This clearly leads to systemic and systematic exploitation of farmers in trade. Due to state manipulation market can never be free for farmers, most of the political parties are socialist therefore political-economy of short changing of farmer’ is accepted. Shetkari Sangathan even thinks that Swaminathans recommendation for 50 per cent of COP is an idea for some wonderland.

Land fragmentation that had already came up to alarming ratio of 1.14 hectare can be difficult to handle any more. It simply can’t let a sustainable farming, even if better agro-prices are attained. It will never be in favour of nation. Such small land holders have very limited threshold and they are the ones who commit suicide, as they have no other option.

Losing land to land acquisition is also very common, with a compensation that speaks for itself. Then there are wildlife laws, even warding off a Neel Gai (Indian winder beast) can become troublesome.

Power and infrastructure had always remain in abysmal condition for farmers. None really wants to invest in rural economy, it hurts the rural economy on every part for instance transportation.

Even the reforms in Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) are yet to take off because other agencies are not permitted to enter the market, much less companies like Wal-Mart in retail. Farmers’ do bleed due to APMC misrules.

This government has done enough of work though for, micro irrigation, fertilisers, soil-health, crop insurance even 4 per cent rate of farm credit is good enough. These efforts are only on input side of farming, it still did not work for output.

 Shetkari Sangathan also believe that freedom of technology is not for farmers, any and every NGO simply move to court against GM seed and government kept watching or fighting cases. Declining farmers’ income stems from central dictates’ and states keep struggling with periodic loan waivers. Shetkari believes in the mantra of, “Undoing socialist strangle hold on farmers and liberalize”.