Crisis in the farm sector which impacts lives of a majority of the population is deepening by the day and it needs an immediate intervention of both the Centre and State Governments to prevent the worst and save the farming community. Unless a big push of investment is ushered in the crisis cannot be dealt with.
Allocations to farm sector in the recent Union Budget is not enough given the scale of requirement, opines Lokapally Jalapathi Rao, a noted agriculture scientist and farmers’ JAC chairman during an interview with The Hindu on the sidelines of the concluding session of the four-day Bharatiya Kishan Sangh national conference, here on Wednesday. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
What is the position of agriculture in the country right now?
Interestingly, though the sector is prospering with the increase in food grain production farmers’ condition is deteriorating. Government’s support to it is diminishing. Dominance of corporate sector has gone up and extension work from Government side is dismal. Unless income security is ensured to farmers, food security will not be a reality.
What should be Government role to prevent suicides?
Centre should earmark more money in the budget to encourage research so as to reduce the cost of cultivation.
Farmers should embrace organic farming systems and Governments make the organic manure and other inputs available at cheaper rates to farmers. Role of middlemen in the supply of seeds and all inputs and also in foodgrain trade must be eliminated to ensure remunerative price. Cooperative farming needs to be brought in.
Should the amount of subsidies be enhanced or is it enough?
Farmers are getting subsidy only on fertilizer and nothing more.
Even in that there is no proper method. Farmers are losing whatever they are getting in the form of subsidy as they are using excessive quantity of fertilizers. Subsidy amount must be directly remitted to the farmers’ account.
How is the response of Modi Government to primary sector?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of improving the income of farmers is widely acclaimed. However, policies and actions of authorities are not in sync with his vision. Budgetary allocation to agriculture is not in tune with his pronouncements.
What should the Government do on the institutional credit front?
Reduction in bank interest rate to farm loans is the only positive aspect, but over a period of time the amount of credit extended to farmers is not positive. Bankers are not showing concern towards the issues of small and marginal farmers.