“The future belongs to nations with grains and not guns” – Dr. Swaminathan
“The future belongs to nations with grains and not guns” said Dr. M. S. Swaminathan at India Science Congress few years back. He made quite a few thought provoking observations during the conference.
Hunger is on the increase in India. It is far more widespread than is generally believed. There is need to implement National Policy for Farmers which stresses on shift of focus from yield to income, attraction and retention of youth to farming and concerns of women farmers.
Need for parents to motivate youth towards agriculture. The opportunities for the professionally trained in agricultural science, veterinary science and home science to pursue self-employment in agriculture need to be explored. The nation will be heading for a disaster in the food front if timely steps are not been taken to revitalize the agricultural sector, Dr. Swaminathan warned. He had earlier stressed the need to implement the National Policy for Farmers (NPF).
One of the key focuses of National Policy for Farmers as also National Policy on Agriculture is to improve economic viability of farming by substantially increasing net income of farmers and actualize the vast untapped potential of Indian Agriculture
The other major initiatives that National Policy for Farmers envisaged include –
- Economic viability and well-being – Focus to be on the economic well-being of the farmers than just on production and productivity and this is to be the principal determinant of Farmers policy.
- Asset Reforms to Empower Farmers– With regard to Land, Water, Livestock, Fisheries & Bio resources;
- Income per unit of Water– Maximizing yield and income per unit of water for all crop production programs, stress on awareness and efficiency of water use.
- Quality inputs services– Good quality seeds, disease free planting material, including in-vitro cultured propagules and Soil health enhancement hold the key to raising small farm productivity. Every farm family to be issued with a Soil Health Passbook.
- Single National Market- A Single National Market by relaxing internal restrictions and controls.
- Expanding Food Security Basket – Include other nutritious crops like bajra, jowar, ragi and millets mostly grown in dryland farming areas.
- Efficient support Services – including Science & Technology, Agricultural Bio Security, Agro-Meteorology, Climate Change, Inputs & Services, Credit, Insurance Cooperatives, Extension Training & Knowledge Connectivity, Marketing & Processing;
- Youth in Agriculture – Urgent need to attract and retain educated youth in farming
- Farmers of the future- More than 80% farmers are small and marginal. Farmers may therefore adopt cooperative farming, , undertake group farming through self-help groups, establish small holders’ estates, adopt contract farming and create farmers companies/producer companies. This shall help increase productivity, viability and efficiency of small farmers and would create multiple livelihood opportunities through crop livestock integrated farming systems as well as agro processing.
- Credit and Insurance – Need for both credit and insurance literacy in villages where Gyan Chaupals to help in the task.
NPF touched on various issues and areas enhancing productivity, profitability and sustainability of the major farming systems in different agro-climatic regions of the country and suggesting measures to attract and retain educated youth in farming and working out a comprehensive medium term strategy for food and nutrition security.
Implementation is where a lot more concerted and coordinated efforts are required from various stakeholders to rejuvenate the farm sector and bringing lasting improvement in the economic condition of the farmers. Effective implementation of policy initiatives will call for comprehensive reforms, will and strong public, private and people partnerships in the management of agriculture in India.
The views expressed in this blog are personal.