Measure agricultural progress by income, not production: Prof M S Swaminathan

In a recent meeting with the Prime Minister, leading Economists emphasised the need for adopting development models that will boost farmers’ income. The National Policy for Farmers submitted to government by the National Commission on Farmers in 2007 has placed great emphasis on reorienting our agricultural strategy based on farmers’ income and not just on production. Several methods were suggested to improve the income of farmers including value addition and effective use of biomass. NCF also suggested, pricing policy which is attractive to the farmer and reasonable to the consumer (more than 60% of the population are both producers and consumers). A recent experience shows that without arrangement for a remunerative pricing policy, farm distress will get aggravated. Some examples are, potato cultivators in Paschim Bangla and Natural Rubber farmers in Kerala. I am therefore happy that eminent economists have reiterated our need to measure agriculture progress on the base of income and not merely on the quantity of food produce.  In the case of potato and perishable commodities, investment is needed in cold storage and improved post-harvest technology. In the next phase of our agriculture, the emphasis should be on the income and value addition to primary products. Both the state and central will have to reorient their strategies based upon the need for ensuring adequate and stable income from agriculture.  This is also essential to attract and retain youth in farming.