Beyond Farmers’ Suicides: Dealing with the Agrarian Crisis – Prof M S Swaminathan
Chennai, March 06, 2017: The agrarian crisis has been dealt with largely in the context of farmer’s suicides during the last few years. There are other serious problems which need attention, if we are to accelerate agricultural growth and ensure food security. Some of these are:
Procurement and pricing – the National Commission on Farmers has already suggested a pricing policy which will help farmers to come out of the poverty trap. viz. C2 plus 50%
Procurement at the announced support price of crops like pulses and oilseeds. We are importing pulses but still farmers are not able to get the MSP announced. We celebrated last year, the International Year of Pulses but we hardly took action to implement the recommendation.
Intensive work on agriculture machinery in the context of growing labour shortage for agriculture due to the opportunities provided by MGNREGA.
Inadequate support to women farmers including access to credit and land rights. This is affecting production since women today contribute more than 50 per cent of the labour force in the field of agriculture.
Lack of coordination among various departments dealing with soil, healthcare, irrigation, post-harvest operations, storage and marketing
Import-export policies which are pro-small farmer. At the moment, imports have been made in various commodities including natural rubber, depressing local prices and dissuading procurement agencies for purchasing the produce resulting from the hard work of our farmers.
Both in the production and post-harvest phases, there is need for providing the power of scale to farmers either through cooperatives or self help groups
Doubling the income of farmers through crop-livestock integration and through value addition to biomass. For this purpose, BioParks can be set up which will help to add value to every part of the Biomass.
Credit availability is impressive in terms of total amount but access to credit is difficult not only to Mahila Kisans but to all Kisans. Credit reform is urgently required. Credit linked to insurance is also an urgent need.
R&D work in relation to adaptation to climate change is fragmented and inadequate. We should particularly give attention to dangers such as drought, floods, extreme temperatures and rise in sea level. In particular we should train our coastal area farmers in the science and art of sea water farming and below sea level farming.
(MSSRF File Pic: Prof Swaminathan, NCF speaking to suicide affected family members, 2005)
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.