Farmers are like entrepreneurs, want entry to markets and credit score to offset exterior dangers

Does agricultural evaluation in India want a paradigm shift? Most analyses begin and finish with a portrayal of Indian farmers as helpless beings who shall be doomed with out the sympathies of the elite. Nonetheless, right now’s self-respecting farmer is principally a risk-taking entrepreneur, similar to many people. Thus, the strategy to grasp them can’t be that of patronage however of respect, dignity and empowerment—the identical we now have in the direction of some other set of pros or danger takers.

This mindset warrants a spotlight in the direction of taking all elements of agriculture as an entire for coverage response and never just a few elements of it. Agriculture, like some other sector caters to 2 units of stakeholders—producers and customers. Given India’s demographics and historical past, about 50 p.c Indians produce, whereas almost 100 p.c Indians eat agricultural items and providers.

Representational picture. Reuters

On the manufacturing facet, agriculture is the revenue supply of a giant part of Indian farmers. Farmers, like different entrepreneurs, want entry to markets and credit score together with mitigation mechanisms that offset exterior dangers to run profitable ventures. Whereas loads could be carried out to enhance issues on all these parameters, three coverage interventions to drive structural change have seen superior execution, high quality, and pace up to now few years.

a) eNAM has built-in 585 markets throughout 16 states masking 114 commodities. A farmer can now promote produce via her cellphone to the mandi of her selection, thereby, matching demand and provide,

b) Bold agricultural credit score targets set by the federal government have been persistently exceeded; and

c) Crop insurance coverage to mitigate agri-risks has witnessed a brand new focus since 2016. Not solely has protection improved, however the declare course of favors the farmers as insurance coverage corporations at the moment are liable to pay strict penalties on account of delayed settlements.

On the consumption facet, agriculture is crucial for meals safety. As per the UN Meals and Agriculture Organisation, meals safety is achieved when “all folks always have bodily and financial entry to enough, protected and nutritious meals to satisfy their dietary wants and meals preferences for a wholesome and energetic life”.

Let’s break down this definition into parameters to measure India’s efficiency on meals safety. Two clear parameters are financial and bodily entry. Third is meals sufficiency. ‘Protected and nutritious’ are tough to measure as they’re output-dependent. As an example, one could conclude that folks have entry to protected and nutritious meals if well being outcomes are good. However well being additionally is determined by different components. So, for the aim of this text, let’s give attention to the three measurable standards for meals security-economic entry, bodily entry and meals sufficiency.

One of many prime components for widespread disenchantment with UPA-2 was worth rise. Meals contains almost 45 p.c of the consumption basket and its costs matter particularly to the thousands and thousands nonetheless under poverty line. Meals inflation averaged at 9 p.c between 2006 and 2014 and reached a peak of 20 p.c in 2009. Between July 2014 and November 2018, meals inflation averaged at Four p.c. It is very important word that inflation compounds, thereby hurting the poor when it’s excessive over a sustained interval.

Simply when it comes to staple meals—rice and wheat, inflation averaged at 4.5 p.c between 2011 to 2014 and it got here right down to 1 p.c between 2014 to 2017. The inference to attract right here is that low ranges of meals inflation have vastly improved its affordability and therefore, financial entry to the poor.

The second parameter is bodily entry to meals. That is once more a tough parameter to gauge, however basically is determined by the standard of infrastructure within the nation and given India’s context—street, and rail matter loads. Good infrastructure facilitates straightforward and fast transportation of meals from one level to different. On this case, India’s north east deserves a particular focus. Because of geography, terrain and slow-paced infrastructure growth, bodily entry to meals on this area has usually been tough.

Within the final 4 years, greater than 900 km of rail tracks within the north east have been transformed into broad gauge and greater than 20 new trains have been launched. When it comes to roads, the Union Authorities has sanctioned street initiatives price Rs 1.9 lakh crores. Add to that the general infrastructure push throughout the nation and the issue of bodily entry to meals seems minuscule.

Lastly, on meals sufficiency, India has earned bragging rights. India’s meals grain manufacturing stood at an all-time excessive of 285 million tonnes in 2017-18. Additionally, essential to notice that 2014-15 and 2015-16 have been drought years and India nonetheless managed to supply meals grain in extra of 250 million tonnes in each these years. Not simply meals grains, manufacturing of pulses that hovered round 13 million tonnes (between 1980s to 2000s) touched 24.5 million tonnes in 2017-18.

The perfect service anybody can do to Indian agriculture is to analyse it objectively and totally. Do keep in mind, even the best philosophers conceived that the earth is flat till they seemed on the complete image.

(The author is a public coverage skilled. Views expressed are private)



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