2007 Budget is almost ready and undergoing final touches on the FM’s anvil, the following are some untraditional ideas about a budget that will make the profession of agriculture viable and beneficial to all who are engaged in the job as well as all who consume the products out of agriculture. As we all know Indian farmers are not doing well and for a steady income however small it will be he will quit the farming and go leaving the land which so far gave him only cups of woes and marginalized him far from the developed world.
Farmer v/s consumer
The interest of a farmer should not be against the interest of the end user and the prosperity of the end user should never stand against the welfare of the farmer. At present the governments in the greed for caching votes is in search of quick-fix solutions by disbursing more and more bank loans to farmers. Loans are no solutions to the problems as they only push the poor farmer in to more and more debts – he is already immersed in debt. Writing off of loans is a bad precedent only to be a drain of public wealth.
A rotten machinery
There are a lot of government officials employed for the welfare of the farmers and the output of all these machineries are virtual nothing. They are good only for expending the allocations made for agriculture. The farmers are emotionally attached to their land however in-fertile it is, hence asking them to part with the ownership of this land for better style of living is not practical in the Indian background.
The facts, problems and solutions.
The ownership being left to them why the management of the farms to be left to some efficient corporates, let us think of the pros and cons of such a radical action.
Money, money and more money
Good agricultural practices involving latest technologies require a lot of money and Indian farmers do not have that kind of money at their disposal neither are they equipped to deal that much cash. The best thing they know to spend money is to see their daughters married off in grandeur, buy some consumer items like TV, fridge, car etc or building a palace like residence.
Managing farms (machineries, fertilizing, using of pesticides, engaging laborers etc) require cutting edge skills. Expecting poor illiterate Indian farmers doing all these with panache is nothing but wish full thinking.
Value addition and storage
Our farmer’s knowledge about value addition is a big zero, hence they sell it as harvested
And get the least value for their produce. Inventory control of machineries and scientific storage of produce require good knowledge and large amount of capital, which Indian farmers have never had it enough.
Marketing of products is a high-skilled activity which calls for technical knowledge, marketing skills, and bargaining power, in this point how many Indian farmers score pass-mark? The bank managers knocking their doors for repayment, force them for distress sales.
Ownership v/s Management
Suppose on a trial basis government select the worst affected agricultural area (Vidarbha in Maharashtra for example where farmer-suicide is a common event) and invite tenders from good Indian corporates for managing farms in Vidarbha and a model agreement is reached with the entity which offers the best conditions for the farmers who own the lands (The ownership in no way is transferred to the company).
A transparent agreement.
When the complete process is transparent there will be no loop-hole for false accusations and as the company which offers the best to the farmers for the lowest rate wins, why should there be any complaints from any corner, if necessary changes have to be made in the laws, why can’t that be done? If not for the people why should be there a law making body and so many members who waste a lot of money?
No labor outsourcing!!!
All the laborers required must be met from local people as per the agreement, this will generate jobs and steady income to the farmers and through best agricultural practices the company also will stand to gain. If farming can be done in developed nations, it can be done here with one tenth of the cost and our farmers will not have to commit suicide and will not be forced to leave the profession leaving their land barren as it is done in Kerala.
Subsidy if any? No compensated.
In case any subsidy has to be paid to lure the companies? Most probably it will not have to pay for as modern farming is a profitable proposition and corporates will compete for the entry in to the new vista that has opened before them. Even if some subsidy has to be paid it will be compensated by the great savings in keeping a large army of agricultural officers without much use.
Walk out or stay
Suppose this experiment succeeds, the entire India will undergo a change and the idea will close the chapter of debt-ridden farmers from this land for ever, they will be getting double benefits one lease of the land and two the monthly wages for doing work for a reputed firm which pay them regularly. After the experiment for limited period the farmer gets back his land and he can lease it out to any firm for the terms and condition he can agree for his good.
Government only a facilitator
No permanent officials are required as government is only a facilitator, initial directions framing of laws and deputation of a top local officer as a mediator alone is required and farmers associations also can be a party for the transparency of the deal and better and efficient implementation, that is all for the government, it being not a good thing to be entrusted with day to day affairs of anything as corrupt officials will jump in to make a quick buck out of the sweat of the farmers.
Starving on a mine of gold
Illiteracy and ignorance of the farmers on the one side, a government-machinery devoid of any sympathy or ingenuity on the other side has so far left our farmers sleep with empty stomach on the treasure trove that their land actually is as the Arabs starved and toiled on the oil-treasure a century back. There must be someone to show them the actual value of the land they possess.
60 years went waste!!!
An idea of the time
But Indian President and even Prime minister are not professional politicians for the fortune of the nation. It is hoped at least they may think about a radical change in the Indian farming. Shouting slogans like “Garibi Hatao” (ward off poverty) from roof-top was what the previous ones did. Industrializing agriculture is an idea the time of which has come. If the face of Indian industry has been changed by our entrepreneurs they can change the face of our farming also.