In this present world, how many of us have taken a moment to think about the differences between the history of Indian agriculture and what really is happening now in the sector? The thought hit me during an unexpected moment in an unrelated situation and yet, I was curious enough to think why India’s agriculture has been declining alarmingly. The result is mind boggling really. There are numerous studies and reports on this issue. Every single one of those gives numbers and it started getting depressing to see those that I don’t even bother mentioning them here. There seems to be no point in analyzing numbers and wondering over them anymore. It is high time something was done a bit more than crunching of numbers. On that front, India also has a long history of trying to rectify this very problem and there seems to be very little progress. Now, why is that?
What has happened to the country which once was an expert in agriculture, that once was the king of the art? What happened to the knowledge and resources that pavexpert ed the way to be so? We do not have even one-fourth of what we had back then. Not the land used for agriculture, the produce or the number of farmers. It has been a few decades since people started thinking agriculture to be an inferior occupation. The several factors leading to the difficulties has made the farmers to work their life off to send their children into engineering so the next generation doesn’t have to suffer like they do. Now what has happened, when farmers all over the country did that? Can we really blame them? No. When we truly take a look into their lives, we see that they are some of the people in the country who have it hardest.
It has been very discouraging for the farmers to take chances and keep working their fields with very little insurance in case of failures, which have been seen to occur more frequently now.
It’s a known fact that more and more land gets pushed into becoming areas of residence, corporate buildings or anything that would take it away from agriculture. Moreover, what little land the farmers do own, has a major gap, making it two kinds. Ones who own very little and the ones who own a lot more comparatively. This difference makes the income of majority of the farmers scarce.
Then comes the issue of irrigation. While the lands are going drier than ever, what source we now have for water is not available to all, to say the least. When looked at closely, the study takes a whole new face, stepping into climatic changes, pollution, global warming, topographical changes and the list of scary observations grows. To do their best in acquiring water for irrigation, they all drill bore wells and suck out what little water is left under. We all know where that is leading us.
With that little land they have and even less water, farmers mostly out of desperation, started using advanced crops and hybrid seeds. While it looked promising, the effect has been calculated to be devastating in the long run. Farmers are also caught between the old practices and the new technology that they use it without proper guidance and knowledge. It has led not to the betterment of the produce but a stage where we can’t deduce whether the results are the same or worse yet.
When already the declined agriculture is arising issues like insufficiency and economic inflation, the best of the produce is exported, leaving even little for the country. While it is true that India gets a lot of income through those exports, the effects on the people are not really gainful everywhere, especially the farmers. There is a huge difference between the price they sell the goods and the price it reaches the general public in the markets, the middle men taking the lion’s share of the profits.
The Indian Government has been seen to take measures to rectify the overall issue. The remedies like more employment in the fields, better insurance against crop failures and attempts on better irrigation seem to be a bit encouraging but the effects are nowhere near what we need. This is just the simplest summary of what India is up against, in terms of agriculture. The detailed studies in truth show cruel results, the kind every citizen should be worried about.
This had me thinking in a series of ‘what if’ questions that I don’t really have all the answers for, but I believe can be worked out if tired. I believe that it would be possible for the Indian Government (if decided to do so), to allocate vast land areas for Government controlled agriculture. Not just any land, but the places that are made of bountifully fertile soil. Strategic planning can really help in locating such places over not only the fertility factor, but also where the water supply for irrigation from the rivers can be made elemental.
When that is done, there comes the labour. Now when there is such a large scale attempt, there will be a lot of work needed to be done and hence a requirement of large number of farmers. They can be employed as Government employees with regular and fixed income with perks based on the amount and quality of the produce they can give. This will not only hugely encourage the farmers but also increase the nation’s gross production. For those farmers who own agricultural lands and prefer to stay that way despite the benefits of having a constant income if employed, their produced goods can be processed into marketing through the same board that would work on marketing the results of centralised agriculture. Surely, there would be a lot of people, young and old, who possess a passion for agriculture, as is the case in every occupation in the world, art or no. This, along with national institutes dedicated to agriculture, can ensure good working of the scheme and gaining more crop produce. Even though I am aware that such an effort would require funds of astronomical heights, I believe this will not only regulate and increase the gross production of the nation but also increase the number of farmers occupied, their income, bridge the gap between the prices and in time, increase the net income for both the farmers and the nation itself. The raised rates of the goods on public markets can be reduced also, making it available for everyone within their budgets. On the additional benefits is the more green on the lands, reducing pollution and global warming.
Being a person who has had not much exposure to agriculture or economics, I am not fully aware of the effects this would have in detail. But in any case, I believe this is doable and wonder if it is worth looking into.