Pricing, procurement not loan waiver for farmers: Prof M S Swaminathan
Chennai, April 29, 2017: I do not agree with tax on agriculture income, since agriculture is the major source of livelihood for over 50% of our population. It is a livelihood industry with multiple impact on human life. There could be other methods of taxing rich farmers with multiple sources of the income. Targeting has always had problems in our country. Small and marginal farmers are fairly well defined now. They could be given inputs at a lower rate so that they are able to enhance productivity and marketable surplus. Loan waiver is an easy method of solving the debt problems of farmers. In the long run, it will come in the way of establishing a viable agriculture credit system. I have always recommended that procurement and pricing should be the pathway for supporting small farmers. The price recommended by the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) namely C2 plus 50% should be implemented. Loan waivers help in the short term, but does not solve the chronic problems affecting small farmers due to the cost-risk and return structure of farming. In the Punjab, we need diversification of farming and particularly crop livestock integration such as animal husbandry and horticulture. Punjab can also grow several crops a year and farmers should be enabled to earn more income from cubic volumes of soil and air. Punjab farmers are very enterprising and the Punjab Agriculture University should do more work to help them to take to new technologies. The NCF has given detailed recommendations on how to promote an evergreen revolution movement in the Punjab and other green revolution areas. The evergreen revolution based on the integration of ecology and technology will provide increased yield in perpetuity without ecological harm. It is unfortunate that even after 10 years the major recommendations of NCF have not been implemented. We had given suggestions on how to make farmers’ suicides a problem of the past.
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.