Are Farmers Going to Be Modi’s Biggest Blind Spot?

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by sasi, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. sasi

    sasi Senior Member Senior Member

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    Prime Minister Narendra Modi vehemently declares his commitment to farmers in all public forums, including his signature radio show and the social media. In Twitter terminology, @narendramodi aspires to #pro-poor&farmer-friendly. Is @aamkisan impressed by Narendrabhai’s rhetoric? Given that it has been a bad year for farmers, with no sign that he will deliver on promises made to them over Chai pe Charcha 13 months ago, their scepticism is understandable.
    The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) tenure started on an unhappy note, farmer-wise, with Modi’s swearing-in heralding a free-fall in prices of cotton and paddy – two of the principle kharif crops. By November 2014, cotton prices were at their lowest in five years, and paddy prices at their lowest in four years. Arguably, there wasn’t much India could have done to shore up prices in the face of China’s release of reserve stocks of cottonor Iran’s crackdown on rice importsrom India (allegedly after President Hassan Rouhani’s requested meeting with Modi did not materialize). But the Opposition pilloried the government in Parliamentfor failing to step in with adequate farm support.
    The government could certainly have avoided the shortage of urea which hit farmers before the rabi sowing (September to December) last year. It failed to to ensure timely imports of urea, resulting in a shortfall. From June to October of 2014, imports were negligible. While Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers Ananth Kumar told Parliament that all was well, comparative figuresfor the last five years show there was an inexplicable – and drastic – slowdown in imports during that period. Whether it was oversight, or the new dispensation seeking suppliers with whom it was comfortable, is anybody’s guess.
    Bharat Krishak Samaj chairman Ajay Vir Jakhar – an urbane, soft-spoken, practicing farmer – says: “Farmers had to pay 40 percent extra for a bag of urea, either in cash or in terms of compulsorily buying a bag of weedicide/pesticide with it.” He says there hasn’t been black marketeering of fertilizers on this scale across the country in over a decade. Farmers protests escalated into agitations from December 2014 to February 2015: shortage had hit at the time of sowing, but continued thereafter. To prevent rioting among urea-hungry farmers, bags of fertilizer were distributed through police stations in Haryana. From Jhajjar in Haryana, Madhepura in Bihar and Guna in Madhya Pradesh came reports of farmers looting trucks carrying urea. There were rail rokos and stone-pelting, a sort of farmers’ intifada that went largely unreported. A surge in urea imports in November-December of 2014 did not ameliorate matters in time for the rabi season, because of the time taken to move supplies.
    By then, the impact of the central government’s “ no bonus on MSP” policy was already being felt in the rice-growing state of Chhattisgarh and setting off alarm bells elsewhere. In recent years, state governments like those in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have boosted agricultural production by offering incentives to farmers in the form of a “bonus” over the central government’s minimum support price (MSP). The MSP, intended to protect farmers from market fluctuations and exploitation by middlemen, is decided by the Committee on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). But most farmers feel it does not cover the actual cost of inputs. The state governments then steps in with a bonus which offers farmers assured returns for their produce.
    Madhya Pradesh used the bonus-on-MSP policy to spectacular effect, resulting in a recording- breakingagricultural growth of 25 percent in 2013-14, up from around 20 percent the preceding year, and 20 percent the year before that as well. It’s small wonder that when the Center informed states in June last year that it would no longer fund purchase of produce from farmers at the “bonus” price, chief ministers were upset. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh shot off a letterto the Prime Minister, asking him to reconsider the policy on the grounds that it would lead to a “significant reduction in cultivation of paddy” and impact the overall food security of the country.
    The rationale behind the move – to quote the June 12, 2014 circularfrom the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution – was that “bonus by the state government distorts the market of the concerned commodity and drives private buyers out of the market in the state.” Food policy expert Naresh C Saxena agrees, saying “Giving bonus to farmers does not increase overall (foodgrains) availability, it only transfers grain from the market to government godowns, besides increasing the burden of food subsidy.” This is in keeping with the suggestionsof the Shanta Kumar Committee on reform of the public distribution system, submitted in January this year.
     
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  3. sasi

    sasi Senior Member Senior Member

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    Ideally, farmers should be able to get remunerative prices from private traders (aratiyas) rather than depend on the Food Corporation of India (FCI), whose job it is to procure, store and distribute foodgrains to consumers through the Public Distribution System. Thus, it provides a safety net for farmers when market prices fall below the MSP fixed by the government. But the MSP on foodgrains is higher than the market prices (which do not, for a variety of reasons too complex to be discussed here, cover the farmers’ input costs). As Punjab Finance Minister PS Dhindsa told the media on Budget day, if the FCI cuts back on procurement, farmers will resort to distress selling at below-MSP prices. If there has to be a cutback, he added, it should be gradual so that farmers can shift to other crops.
    Raman Singh’s angst is thus understandable. He spent Rs 2,400 crore on giving farmers a bonus, over the MSP. In 2013-14, for instance, 80 lakh tons of paddy was procured, translating into 54 lakh tons of rice. Under the terms of the new policy, the Center would only pay for the 24 lakh tons needed for the state’s own public distribution system. What is it to do with the remaining 30 lakh tons, if the FCI does not want it?
    The Raman Singh regime owes its electoral success to having boosted farm incomes through the bonus system, which figured in its poll promises. He pointed out that the state pays the bonus from its resources and “the only support needed from Government of India is continued procurement of rice in central pool.” Financially hamstrung, the state government limited procurement to 10quintals per acre in the 2014-15 kharif season, but later raised it to 15quintals an acre. Procurement in Chhattisgarh fell by a whopping 23 percent this year, to just 62 lakh tons.
    The Center’s no-bonus move also drew protests from the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), an RSS frontal organization. BKS general secretary Prabhakar Kelkar, a dyed-in-the-wool, old school RSS soldier, says the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government not only failed to increase MSP adequately but stopped states from giving a bonus to farmers, thereby going back on its electoral promise. “The bonus on MSP had economically empowered farmers. Madhya Pradesh was a model state in procurement, with 2,300 centers. Ideally, a large number of centers are needed to cut down on the farmers’ transportation costs and encourage procurement at the panchayat level,” he says. But this year, not only is there no bonus, there’s a cutback in procurement. So that’s lesser income support for farmers.
    The distorted demand-supply dynamics of India’s food economy make it hard to understand why, at a time when unseasonal rains and hailstorms have destroyed standing crops, farmers are getting less, not more, money than they did last year. And if the reason is that FCI’s godowns are already bulging with foodstocks – the Cabinet decided to lower buffer stocksin January this year – why is 80,000 tonsof wheat being imported from Australia? Saxena offers an explanation: “It (import) increases availability, reduces market price, and would discourage hoarding by middlemen. Government has about 37 million tons of foodgrain, out of which about 20 million tons is wheat, so the import of 85,000 tons does not change the overall picture much. Private sector should be allowed to import more. It is the export that needs to be curbed.” Farmers’ organizations do not agree. Jakhar says there is no justification for food imports, as that results in deflation of grain prices, to the detriment of farmers.
    The land bogey
    A fresh challenge for the BKS came in the shape of the Land Ordinance of Dec 31, 2014 which undid the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Actwhich had come into effect exactly 365 days earlier. In effect, the government asserted its right of eminent domain by depriving farmers of their right to say “no” to land acquisition. The consent clause, which had mandated that 80 percent of landowners agree to the proposed acquisition, was set aside. As was the provision for conducting a social impact assessment, intended to allow the farming community a say in the kind of development projects proposed to be set up on their land.
    The first part of Modi’s slogan for the farm sector – “Kam zameen, kam samay, zyada upaj” – took on a whole new meaning. The government’s defence of the Ordinance was that provisions for generous compensation were untouched and that ought to satisfy farmers.
    Besides, acquisition of land would lead to development of infrastructure, which would benefit rural communities.

    Read full - https://t.co/J76Ro9XjEk
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  4. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    I cannot even instantly recall who our Agriculture minister. This is how anonymous this ministry has been, Radha Mohan Singh sleeping at the job?

    Do they even have a contingency plan in place for the impending shortfall in food grain production?
     
  5. DingDong

    DingDong Senior Member Senior Member

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    India's agricultural sector is seriously ailing due to overdependence and the government needs to wean people away from this profession. In short we need lesser number of hands in our farmlands and not more. It might be a PR disaster for the government but the government must not incentivize the traditional cultivation any longer and instead must strive to generate employment through alternative means.

    On the matter of Land Acquisition bill, the impact of the opposition has been limited for two reasons:
    1. Farmers had their lands taken away in past, it is not something new.
    2. Only a small number of land-owners are supposed to be effected (estimated around 3%). Majority of cultivators in India aren't land-owners.

    And that is the reason why we did not witness any pan-India demonstration as it was planned by the likes of Anna Hazare.

    This subsidy regime has to go and at the same time the government must make sure that transition is smooth. The real challenge is finding an alternative.
     
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  6. sasi

    sasi Senior Member Senior Member

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    even US,europe gives more subsidy to their farmers.

    We don't want beg for food frm others. Even industry gets more subsidy than farmers. But farming gives more empolyment than industry.
     
  7. DingDong

    DingDong Senior Member Senior Member

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    We cannot compare ourselves with US or Europe where Agriculture doesn't attract the best in the business and hence the subsidy. Farming in India is under considerable pressure, farmlands are shrinking, number of hands in farmlands are increasing.
     
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  8. sasi

    sasi Senior Member Senior Member

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    i see number of hands increasing in farming, industry and unemployment.



    Ps- need strict "2 child policy"!
     
  9. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Let me stick my neck out here and make a statement which may seem extremely unpalatable to some.

    As a nation, we have to get rid of our farmer fetish and village fetish.

    We speak a lot about farmer suicides. Yes, it is terrible and depressing that any Indian has to commit suicide due to financial difficulty, using gruesome methods like swallowing pesticide. Of course it is a great tragedy.

    But what I want to know is, out of the total suicides, how many (what percentage) are farmers? We see suicides very often. Students do it due to exam pressure, labourers do it due to work pressure, depressed housewives do it, depressed failed lovers do it (due to caste and other issues), failed businessmen do it... but the entire nation keeps discussing only farmer suicides. A lot of emphasis is placed on farmer suicides and farmer welfare, whereas the actual problem is across all strata of society, all professions.

    Gandhi wanted a village-based society, with happily contended poor people spinning Khadi and making handicrafts. In Shastri's time also, India was told to respect its farmers for feeding the nation in those days of deprivation and famine. We still live in a hangover of that era. That is the problem of Indians. The world has changed, India has changed, our attitude and policies have not changed.

    The fact is, farming is just another profession. The farmer grows food so that he can sell it at a profit. Just like a cab driver purchases a car and drives you around for a profit. Just like a carpenter invests in training and tools to reap a profit. I respect everyone who works hard to make an honest living. Farmers yes, but also labourers, drivers, factory workers, soldiers, security guards, garbage collectors, middle-class hard-working small businessmen, 60-hour work-week IT professionals, doctors, surgeons, etc. etc. etc. Indian discourse is strongly tilted towards Gandhian ideals, which don't work in the modern world.

    The need of the hour is to pull 450 million farmers out of farming, into industry and services. Urbanize, modernize, develop. An Ola Cab driver in Bangalore earns Rs. 5 lakh per annum. A typical landowner in a village earns Rs. 1.5 lakh per annum, and this could go to 0 due to the vagaries of weather. This much dependency on farming is not healthy. We need only 1/10th of the current labour strength in farming. Everyone else has to be moved out. Agriculture employs 55% of Indians and contributes only 15% of GDP. This is the reason for poverty. It hits you in the face. This is the problem. We need to fix this if we have to become a developed nation.
     
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  10. Vishwarupa

    Vishwarupa Senior Member Senior Member

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    Agreed but Nation like India also needs agriculture sector to do well, we need to feed 125+cr people & we cannot depend on importing food items.
    Those who do not like farming they can always look out for other sectors for opportunities but we need bring agriculture sector on par with other sectors & increase its overall contribution to Indian economy. I am sure if Agriculture becomes a lucrative sector many white collor workers will move towards agriculture.

    I have seen many IT professionals moving to farming in Bangalore, they do part time small IT projects & during other time they are into farming.
     
  11. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    In general, India needs only around 100 million people to be employed in agriculture, no more than that.

    India's yields are among the lowest in the world. That is primarily because of small landholdings and lack of mechanization. As more and more people leave agriculture, the people who stay back will have larger landholdings, larger profits, best yields due to mechanization.

    I also have an ambition to have my own teak and rubber plantation some day, with lots of cash crops growing along with the trees. But then, when I enter the field, there is a remaining need for only 100 million MINUS 1 farmers in the country. Our country cannot sustain any more farmers. We need to drastically reduce the number.

    Paradoxically, when there are less farmers, our total food production will keep increasing.
     
  12. mayfair

    mayfair Elite Member Elite Member

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    That's unlikely to happen with the land ceiling act in place. Cooperative farms are not successful nationwide. More than the size of the landholdings (there are studies which point out that it is possible to obtain comparable yields with small size units), it's the lack of mechanisation, optimal usage of water and soil resources and a lack of scientific inputs and approaches to farming.

    The biggest problem for farmers is that regardless of the yield, they find it difficult to make profits because farm produce is not immediately accessible to the market and the consumers and the host of middlemen who scam way the money.

    Improvement in farming will go hand in hand with improvement in infrastructure and removal of outdated laws. For instance, a wheat farmer in UP must be able to sell his produce to a merchant in TN (or even overseas) if he so desires. However, this requires one to circumvent a lot of red tape and is a touchy subject since it may lead to short term inflation.

    Farming sector needs a massive overhaul in India.
     
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  13. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Farming is a great stress buster.

    It is like parenthood where you nurture a growth from the seed to a flowering plant.

    Where we fail is that there is no scientific backup at hand to advise.

    We are dependent on chemical fertiliser, but the given the huge waste we have all around, vermiculture for compost is an answer. But is there anyone to advise and encourage?

    For marginal farmers, tillers and other mechanical implements should be given on hire by the Govt. That will add to productivity and less loss to the farmer in case the crops fail.

    There are many ways to ensure that farmers are not distressed or leave farming for jobs in urban areas.
     
  14. Vishwarupa

    Vishwarupa Senior Member Senior Member

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    yes farming requires a massive overhaul but what is stopping a farmer to sell his produce to other states in India or overseas, yes there are thing like majority of farmers come under BPL so not enough money to transport or store the products, not educated enough to market his produce, infrastructural issues like roads etc.

    But is there any government hinderence that is stopping the farmers to export or sell its produce to other countries or states.
     
  15. sasi

    sasi Senior Member Senior Member

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    not only suicides,we don't know where the hell they get data from for crop damage?

    Both suicide and crop damage data from media is bogus.

    But unfortunately state govt don't counter it.
     
  16. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Basically, the sector needs to be freed up. The APMC shit needs to go, we need open markets. There should be a free market for farm produce in which everyone will gain, from farmer to consumer, to the enablers (cold storage warehousing owners, etc.) - and IMO mechanization is possible only with consolidation of landholdings. It is notoriously unviable to mechanize a small farm.
     
  17. anoop_mig25

    anoop_mig25 Senior Member Senior Member

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    @mayfair has land ceiling act been repealed
    @Bangalorean why is this APMC act not begin removed by successive gov...
    this act is main culprit ..
    .can delhi state gov remove this act
     
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  18. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    Problem due to small land holdings:

    1) No mechanization
    2) India is such a large country that crop insurance on a national scale can easily take care of natural vagaries. But farmers don't/can't buy insurance.
    3) Over-dependence on one crop and huge loss if anything goes wrong

    Then we have MSP, which has led to so many other problems like no diversification of crops, excessive fertilizer and water usage. Govt. had to ban 3rd round of paddy farming in Punjab due to excessive water use. At least in the north the farmers sow just one/two crops.

    And the biggest irony is no farmer want their children to stay on the farm. But we keep making policies which promote perpetual poverty.

    Sadly, I also understand the idea behind a farmer not going to Delhi/Bangalore to drive Ola car. While farming he is the owner of his life, his time and his crops. Also, land is seen as a gift from ancestors and hence ownership has intrinsic value by itself. May be this intrinsic value is high enough that a large number of people do not want to leave agriculture unless the associated employment bring as much social status as farming. And low skilled jobs in the cities do not provide that.
     
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  19. Bangalorean

    Bangalorean Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    There are two types of "farmers":

    1. Landless labourers who depend on farm labour to survive. These people don't mind going and driving Ola cabs in cities.
    2. Landed labourers who own farmland. These people definitely see the "intrinsic value" of land, as you have rightly pointed out.

    Here's what will happen IMO: as industry and services expand, as we become a more urban nation, more and more landless labourers will move to the cities and drive Ola cabs, work as carpenters and plumbers, drive trucks on highways, etc. There will be a severe labour shortage in rural hinterland, driving up farming costs to prohibitive levels. Gradually, many landed farmers will sell their land and begin moving to cities to set up small shops, they will become small retailers or set up micro industry, etc. Those who remain in farming will end up with larger and larger tracts of land, and then mechanization will become viable. They will take loans to purchase farm mechanization equipment, they will grow multiple crops, and due to the sheer size of their landholdings and the potential for profit, "farm consultants" will mushroom all over the place to provide advise and guidance on best farming practices, technology, etc. to these large farmers, for a commission on total crop sales.

    And that day India will be truly a developed nation.
     
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  20. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    This is Milton's video on Handlooms in India. See how he demonstrates our fetish over handlooms lead to subsidising handlooms at the expense of actually productive textile mills and created poverty instead of curing it?

    This is the same problem with Farming right now. If you want to save farming, you need to stop susidising it and incentivising people into that sector. You need more people coming out of Farming and not into it.

    Bringing US, EU into this issue is as retarded as it can get. US and EU has only 2-5% of its people employed in agriculture. So they can subsidise the agri sector all they can because, they are only taking income from 95% nonfarmers to subsidise the 5% farmers. But in India, we have 55% farmers and 45% non farmers. So , it is impossible to rob the 45% to "help" the 55%. This is what the commie dogs do- give only selective part of data and misinterpret it for thier agenda - like how they criticise Indian gvt for not subsidising Farming enough citing US/EU, without giving out the fact that it is not possible in India. It is also how they give propaganda speeches about China to the uneducated masses on the success of China and communism, without actually saying that China at the moment is actually more capitalist than US or India themselves

    Also note that, the longer the people are staying back in farming, the longer they are going to stay back in subsidy and nonproductive sector and subsequently in poverty.

    And Land acquisition act was tried as a way of moving people out of farming and into actual jobs and then the libtards here started their usual farming fetish and shit. These scumbags are not pro farmers or pro poor, but actually pro poverty.
     
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  21. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    There is actually a law which prevents usage of agri land for any other purpose than Agriculture. May be some liberal genius here can explain me how that law is supposed to actually help farmers when they find their crops/agriculture not providing them with enough value. And how it is not anti farmers
     
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