MSP is just one aspect, problems faced by Indian farmers are wide ranging
New Delhi, Oct 3: Thousands of farmers marched towards Delhi on Tuesday over a range demands including loan waiver, subsidised electricity and fuel, pension for farmers above 60 and implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.
The farmers in India face a lot of problems and a multi-pronged approach is needed to set things right in the agriculture sector. Several parties make farm loan waiver a major pitch for the elections. Soon after HD Kumaraswamy became Karnataka Chief Minister, he announced farm loan waivers and even Yogi Adityanath did it in UP to fulfil pre-poll promise. For one, the farm loan waiver is not a long term solution. It may provide relief to the farmer where the crop has been damaged due to a genuine problem like natural calamities etc, but is not a solution to deep rooted problems in the agriculture system.
Another thing that the Centre government recently did was to hike the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for certain crops. What MSP hike seeks to address is the market volatility and fluctuating prices of agri products in the wholesale market. Sometimes the wholesale price of a certain crop falls so low that it fails to cover the cost of production incurred by the farmer. MSP ensures that such a sudden fall is taken care of by assuring a fixed minimum price in the market.
The real problems faced by the Indian farmers are wide ranging and little has been done to address these. The farmers have been unable to make good profit from agriculture, and the condition of farmers will not change unless they begin making profit. A typical Indian farmer is still seen a poor person tilling the land from morning to evening.
Farmers have been unable to arrest the rising cost of production which depends on several factors such cost of fertilizers, irrigation costs, transportation costs, cost of other raw materials etc.
Another reason which significantly affects farmers' income is low yield. Indian soils have been used for growing crops over thousands of years without caring much for replenishing. This has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils resulting in their low productivity. The average yields of almost all the crops are among the lowest in the world. One way to address this using right manures and fertilizers.
Yield also depends on quality of seeds. Seed is a critical and basic input for attaining higher crop yields and sustained growth in agricultural production. Unfortunately, good quality seeds are out of reach of the majority of farmers.
Irrigation is also a key factor that contributes to agricultural output. Although India is the second largest irrigated country of the world after China, only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation.
Lack of mechanisation effects the yield. Mechanisation needs massive investment and a farmer with small land holding may not be able to afford it. This is where the government should pitch in. In fact the small land holdings is in itself a big problem. A big farmer with a large holding will be in a better position to invest in quality agricultural practices.
All in all, a holistic approach is the need of the hour to tackle agricultural problems in India. Several traditional agricultural practices must be shunned and new ways ought to be adopted. The government should not only take initiative to make farmers aware of modern agricultural techniques, but also should give financial help to change the way farming is being done over the years. This is multidimensional problem which needs a long drawn strategy to solve.