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The farmer question: 6 main problems of Indian agriculture and 9 solutions to fix them

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Indian Agriculture
An Indian Farmer. Wikimedia Commons.

 

Image of an Indian Farmer with plow

 

Compiled by Nandini Voice for The Deprived For a country which has the capacity to produce three crops in a year, the ceaseless cases of farmer suicides are an ignominious fact. The statics of the deaths are so high that there is nothing personal or moving left in them.

For a country which has the capacity to produce three crops in a year, the ceaseless cases of farmer suicides are an ignominious fact. The statics of the deaths are so high that there is nothing personal or moving left in them. The death count of a disaster raises more sympathy than the suicides of the Indian farmers. It has become more of a factor to lash the ruling

count of a disaster raises more sympathy than the suicides of the Indian farmers. It has become more of a factor to lash the ruling party by the opposition than a warning sign in Indian agriculture to actually do something.

However, not all are insensitive to the agrarian plight. Nandini Voice for The Deprived , a Chennai based NGO  organized an All India Essay Competition for the citizens on  “How to prevent farmers’ suicides in India?” to look critically into the issue.

Over 5,600 Farmers Committed Suicide In 2014

Farmer Suicides Have Come Down Under Modi Government 

Here are some reasons and a few solutions to the problem as suggested by the participants in the competition.

Problems of Indian agriculture:

1. Agriculture is unorganized activity today

Indian agriculture is largely an unorganized sector. No systematic institutional and organizational planning is involved in cultivation, irrigation, harvesting etc.

Institutional finances are not adequately available and minimum purchase price fixed by the government do not reach the poorest farmer.

2. Most farms are small and economically unfeasible

The ground reality is that majority of the farmers in India own as little as two acres of land.  Cultivation on such small area is not economically feasible. Such small farmers have become vulnerable in Indian agriculture.

In many cases, the farmers are not even the owners of the land, which makes profitable cultivation impossible because a significant portion of the earnings goes towards the payment of lease for the land.

3. Middlemen and economic exploitation of farmers

Exploitation by the middlemen is the reason put forth for not getting the best price for the produce of the agriculturists.

The government should promote the plan called “ulavar santhai” (Farmers Market), where the farmers can directly sell their products at reasonable price to the consumers.

farmer-suicide

 

4. Government programs do not reach small farmers

The government has implemented agricultural debt. waiver and debt. relief scheme in 2008 to benefit over 36 million farmers. Direct agricultural loan to stressed farmers under so called Kisan credit Card were also covered under this scheme.

However, most of the subsidies and welfare schemes announced by the Central and State governments do not reach the poor farmers in Indian agriculture. On the contrary, only big landlords are benefited by those schemes.

 5. High indebtedness and exorbitant interest rates

The root cause of farmers taking their lives is the increase in their indebtedness and debt burden.

Exorbitant interest rates have to be declared illegal and the government has to take strict measures against greedy money lenders.

Easy access to institutional credits have to reach the small and marginal farmers, without cumbersome procedures.

 6. Real estate mafia

We can see even fertile land best suited for agricultural purpose being sold to real estate people, who prepare plots and give attractive advertisements to sell at exorbitant price. There is need to implement strict measures to prevent land grabbing.

 

Amritsar: Farmers busy working in their fields on a hot day on the outskirts of Amritsar on June 8, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

 

Solutions to the problem:

1. Multiple crops

Cultivation of multi crops such as coconut, turmeric, pineapple, banana, apple, papaya, ginger will yield profitable results to the farmers.

2. Special agricultural zone

Just like industrial zone, there is an urgent need to establish special agricultural zones, where only farming and agriculture related activity should be allowed.

3. Need to modernize agriculture

By introducing farm techniques which guarantee a definite success, an increase in youth participation on agricultural fields is economically possible.  This can be attained only by implementing new technologies. Research efforts should continue for the production of crops with higher yield potential and better resistance to pests in Indian agriculture.

Technological advancement in agriculture should be passed down to the small farmers.

Where the existing crops would not do well under drought and weather conditions, the farmers should be helped to shift to cultivating crops that would be easy and economical to cultivate.

farmwr

 

4. Educate the farmers

Many farmers in India are not aware of crop rotation. Though education in urban areas has improved a lot, the government has ignored the same in rural areas in general and in agriculture sector  in particular.  This is the reason why farmers are not  adequately aware of the various schemes provided by the government.

 5. Clubbing of small fields may help

Several farmers who own small piece of land can join together and combine all small fields into one large chunk.  This may help in variety of ways.

Read About Maharashtra Initiatives On Farmer’s Suicide

Narendra Modi’s Initiative For Poor People, Farmers, Small Businesses, Women & Senior Citizens

 6. Need for meaningful crop insurance policies

Crop insurance is must and the claim should be settled easily under the supervision of the district collectors.

Traditional crop insurance depends on the direct measurement of the damage suffered by a farmer to determine his/her payout.  However, field loss assessment is often not feasible or expensive, since most of our farmers are small holders.

Index based insurance, on the other hand, responds to defined parameter.

Index based insurance has the advantages that it is transparent and all the insurers within the defined geographical area are treated equally.  It has low operational and transnational costs, while also ensuring quick payouts.

7. .Need for better water management

Irrigation facilities that are currently available do not cover the entire cultivable land.  Apart from the areas where perennial rivers flow, most of the agricultural fields do not have irrigation facility.

In most cases, it is not the lack of water but the lack of proper water management that causes water shortage. Improved modern methods of rain water harvesting should be developed.

Water management can be made more effective through interstate co-operation on water resources, where surplus water from perennial rivers can be diverted to the needy areas.

Connecting the rivers throughout the country will solve this problem in Indian agriculture. Construction of National Waterways will improve the irrigation facility, which in turn can save the farmers if the monsoon would fail.

water_sl_01_08_2012

 

8. Alternate source of income for farmers

Small farmers should be encouraged to develop alternative sources of income and the government should take up the responsibility for providing training to the farmers to acquire new skills.

In drought affected areas, the government should start alternative employment generation programs to reduce the dependence on agriculture as the sole source of income. Such programs should be standardized.

Farmers should be enabled to divide their activities into three parts.  One for regular crop production, one for animal husbandry or fisheries and another for timber production.  These activities complement each other and also alternate sources of income of farmers can be ensured.

9. Need for national weather risk management system/disease alert system

Facilitating national weather risk management system that alerts farmers when there is a danger of extreme weather, would go a long way in reducing losses in Indian agriculture.

Value added services like pest and disease alert applications, in combination with the weather forecast would equip the farmers to handle and manage their crops better.

For example, Water Watch Cooperative, a Netherlands based organization, has developed a disease alert system that sends an alarm to farmers, if the probability of a pest/disease would be detected.

Similarly,  systems that detect the amount of water to be provided to a field based on the field water content, biomass, and rainfall probability, would aid in the optimization of water provision to the crop and ensure efficient crop management.

  • Sandeep Kr. Singh

    kjjn

  • Robert Kastasek

    Very good representation. If I want to Support indian farmer in west bengal to Setting learning by doing School, can I get as NRI small agriculture land?

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Decoding the Indian Agrarian Crisis and Fake Farmers Facade

Gaurav Tyagi believes half baked measures like loan waivers just make people lazy parasites.

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An increasing number of farmers in India are committing suicide due to debt pressure. To tackle the issue, the government has come up with farm loan waivers. (VOA)

– By Gaurav Tyagi


New Delhi, September 18, 2017 : 
Indian and International media is full of articles regarding large number of farmers in India committing suicide due to debt pressure.

Instead of going to the root of the problem and analyzing the reasons for this phenomenon, Indian politicians have come up with an absurd idea of farm loan waivers.

Majority of Indian farmers under debt trap own very little land. Farming on such small piece of land is not economically feasible. This sector is highly unorganized. Most of the time, no planning is involved in cultivation, irrigation and harvesting.

Middlemen exploit farmers by buying their produce at a very low price and then selling it at a premium to the end consumers.

The irony is that a large number of Indian politicians claim huge incomes from agriculture while farmers starve.

In the province of Madhya Pradesh 24 farmers committed suicide this year over crop loss and failure to repay loans but 18 of the 20 cabinet ministers of the state have shown ‘agriculture’ as their main source of huge incomes.

How come politicians are earning in Billions through farming while the real farmers are struggling to make both ends meet?

Let’s examine the issue in-depth.

The income earned from agricultural land is exempt from income tax under section 10 (1) of the Income Tax Act 1961. Politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen in India launder their money misusing the above income tax clause.

Normally, one cannot own agricultural land in India unless their forefathers have been agriculturists. Rich and influential people in the country obtain agriculturist certificates by ‘greasing the palms’ of the local land officials.

Farmers are not required to maintain detailed records in India. This provides an excellent loophole to pass off unaccounted and undeclared cash as agricultural income. It is done by showing fake sales cash receipts of agricultural produce, which like other certificates can be purchased in India through bribes.

Approximately 800,000 tax declarants in India state exorbitant amounts as agricultural incomes while filing their annual income tax returns.

This income, a whopping INR. 874 Lakh Crores was eight times more than the cumulative GDP of India for the financial years 2011 and 2012.

The average annual income declared by these assesses comes out to be anywhere between Rs. 30-80 Crores, on which they don’t pay any taxes.

It’s obvious that the aforesaid is not agricultural earning instead it’s declared as agricultural income by these assesses just to avoid paying taxes.

According to National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) Delhi, with hardly any farming land has more farmers indulging in agriculture than Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal provinces.

Delhi’s so called ‘farmers’ received Rs. 22,077 Crores in agricultural loans during 2009. In reality, these ‘self proclaimed farmers’ are the owners of big farm houses on the outskirts of the capital.

The authorities are well aware of this malpractice. The Tax Administration Reform Committee in its report in November 2014 said, “Agricultural income of non-agriculturists is being increasingly used as a conduit to avoid tax and for laundering funds, resulting in leakage to the tune of Crores in revenue annually”

The Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley on 26th April said that the government of India does not plan to tax the farm income.

farmers
Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley, wikimedia

It reveals that Indian politicians cutting across party lines indulge in this malpractice, 27% of the winning Lok Sabha M.P’s in 2014 elections have declared wealth of over Rs. 1 Crore, majority of which has been mentioned as agricultural income.

Indian opposition politicians blackmail the political party in power by indulging in spurious farmer agitations.

If there is a bumper crop then the opposition parties start shouting that prices have crashed due to over-supply in the market. When farming cultivation fails due to the vagaries of nature, then they start throwing statistics about farmers suicide.

A group of ‘self proclaimed’ farmers from Tamil Nadu province camped at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, the Indian capital city during March this year and indulged in cheap theatrics to draw attention to their protests.

The leader of this group, P. Ayyakannu is demanding that all farmers should be given loan waivers from banks and quoted highly inflated figures of farmers suicides in Tamil Nadu.

The Tamil Nadu government on 28th April, 2017 conveyed to the Supreme Court of India that no famers committed suicide in the state and clarified that a few, who took this extreme measure did it due to personal reasons.

Many farmers died due to old age and other medical issues. Ayyakannu clubbed all of them together to gather national as well as international attention.

ALSO READ Farmers welfare: What Indian agricultural sector needs to learn from Denmark?

Ayyakannu called off this whole play in Delhi on 23rd April after 40 days, when the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu came to meet these protestors.
He said that their group is giving a one month’s time-frame to the government in order to fulfill their demands otherwise, they would resume their protests in the national capital from May 25 on a bigger scale.

This impostor farmer leader Ayyakannu again came back to Delhi again on 16th July with his gang of ruffians to continue their drama.

Ayakannu as per media reports is not even a farmer, but a lawyer, who makes huge amounts of money through out of court settlements and personally owns hundreds of acres of land.

He and his bunch of hooligans all look quite healthy and well-fed. They don’t appear like destitute farmers as claimed by them.

Fake farmers like the aforementioned Ayyakannu are just the front faces of this façade in the name of farmers.

The remote controls of such characters remain in the hands of politicians, who use them for their narrow, selfish, corrupt agendas depending on the political situation at the state and national level.

The governments of Punjab, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan & U.P. provinces have waived off agricultural loans worth Billions. This has set up a very bad precedent for the rest of the country.

ALSO READ Exclusive: Angry Farmers and Distressed Leaders

There are no ‘free lunches’ in this world. These half baked measures like loan waivers just make people lazy parasites.

The following steps would go a long way in helping the real distressed farmers;

  • Scientific soil and climate testing should be done across all farming regions in India. Farmers can then be educated about which crops to grow profitably, in how many cycles; depending on the soil conditions and climate of the region.
  • Implement agricultural reforms like farming co-operatives, where farmers having small agricultural land holdings can be encouraged to come together and pool their land plus resources together.
  • Crop storage infrastructure should be built and maintained in every village so, that farmer can store their surplus produce rather than sell it desperately at a low price.
  • Crop insurance must be compulsorily introduced all over the country wherein, farmers by paying a nominal amount need not bother about their crops getting destroyed through excessive rain or drought.
  • Organic farming needs to be encouraged instead of over-reliance on chemical fertilizers. The food waste produced by an entire village can be easily turned into biodegradable compost, through innovative schemes like Vermicomposting.
  • Vermicast can replace fertilizers in the agriculture fields. This would save money for the farmer and provide high quality chemical free crops.
  • The APMC’s (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees) have created a coterie of middlemen, who along with the complicity of these committees, form a virtual barrier between the farmer and the consumer, paying the former a pittance for his produce and charging the latter exorbitant amounts for fruits and vegetables.
    Vegetables are purchased at Rs. 2 or 3 a kg from farmers and then sold at 30 to 40 rupees per kg to urban consumers.
    This setup has been going on for decades in every town and city of India. Millions of urban Indians pay artificially higher prices and majority of farmers are underpaid due to this flawed system.
    The profits are made by middlemen, who do not pay taxes on these huge earnings. It is a common practice for them to store money in cash and not in banks.

These APMC’s must therefore be abolished immediately. Farmers should get direct access to the end consumer through the elimination of middlemen. This would ensure a better monetary return for farmers.

  • Private moneylenders in and around the villages charge a very high rate of interest from farmers. This unscrupulous sector should be bought under government regulation by bringing down the rate of interest to a rational level.
  • Government schools in villages are in shambles. They need to be upgraded so, that quality education at an affordable price is available to every child in the village.
    This would uplift farmers children through educational empowerment. It will enable them to make a transition to non-agricultural professions in future and enhance their family earnings considerably.

The aforementioned steps would cost the government far less than what it is losing in the absurd loan waiver schemes, which anyways don’t help the poor marginal farmer at all.
As regard dealing with the fake farmers of India.

The solution entails; no farm loan waivers and bringing the agricultural income above a certain threshold under the tax bracket.

The aforesaid measures would prevent the fake farmers façade spreading rapidly all over the country, while resolving the agrarian crisis of India by assisting needy farmers of the country.

The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China. 


 

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Gram Art Project: Innovative way to voice Indian Farmer’s Issues

Land art was used in Maharashtra under The Gram Art Project to voice the farmer’s ache through creativity

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A distant farm
A distant farm. wikimedia
  • The Gram Art Project, last year created a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the field, it was their way of asking him to ‘Grow in India’
  • There are many issues being faced by the community, yet they have not come together as one
  • Last year, artists from across India discussed contemporary problems of farming with the farmers of the village at the Gram Dhara Chakra Utsav

Nagpur, Maharashtra, August 4, 2017: The Gram Art Project is a praiseworthy initiative in which Land Art was used to voicing farmer’s issues. The term Land Art means, creating art which is made directly on the landscape by sculpting the land and making structures in the landscape.

It is done by using natural materials such as rocks or twigs etc. The term originated from the art movement in the U.S.A in the 1960s and 1970s.The Gram Art Project was in the news last year as well after it created a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the field, it was their way of asking him to ‘Grow in India’.

The collective has been since then involved in working with farmers and highlighting issues of the rural, agrarian economy using art in the village Paradsinga, near Nagpur, Maharashtra. Its volunteers and artists (mostly natives of the village) were present in Delhi to talk about their work.

“Last year, artists from across India discussed contemporary problems of farming with the farmers of the village at the Gram Dhara Chakra Utsav, organised by volunteers, after which seven images for land art were drawn out and grown on the fields,” said Shweta Bhattad (who initiated the project), mentioned Indian Express Report.

One of the images was grown by artist Ganesh Dhoke. He made an Indian map with a farmer and his bull inside. “India is primarily dependent on agriculture and, without it, there will be no food. People need to understand that farmers are leaving the profession and youngsters are not joining it. This message is for the government, too,” Dhoke said. He is the only youngster in his village to be a full-time farmer.

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Mumbai-based artist Kalyani Uday’s land art consisted of two adjacent pyramids, with one of them in reverse. It had a leafy legume accompanied with the slogan Kisan Ekta Zaruri Hai.

Tanmay Joshi, a volunteer said, “There are many issues being faced by the community, yet they have not come together as one. They are at the bottom of the pyramid, so we wanted to show that the reverse of the equation is possible.” Satyabhama Manjhi, an artist belonging to Odisha, created a small Land Art – the local village school and the students.

Adarsh Dhoke said that earlier many people used to urinate near that school wall, so they decided to grow a toilet seat with plants, resulting which the practice stopped. His parents are into farming but he never wanted to do the same. During his interaction with school children, other children echoed his view, though he tried to change that. “Nobody wants to pursue farming but, after I spoke to them, they started thinking about it,” he said.

Also Read: Israeli experts train Indian farmers in advanced agricultural practices to cultivate Dates in Gujarat

Gram Art Project also promotes chemical-free farming and use of native seeds in Paradsinga. The volunteers are involved in activities like building machans and providing the daily weather forecast.

Ganesh Dhoke has reached out to other like-minded people and a road was built that connects 50 fields. It made locomotion in monsoon easier. Similarly, Vednath Lohi recognized the need that there was no place for children to play. With the help of the artists, they converted a land, called Gothan, which was earlier used for bad practices like defecation and gambling and they turned it into a playground for children. Also decorated it with sustainable sculptures near which children can play.

The condition of Indian farmers is quite problematic as many farmer’s suicide due to the heavy loan’s on them which they are not capable to pay off or poor financial condition in general. So, initiatives like this are a positive step towards highlighting farmer’s issues.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.
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PM Modi’s Demonetisation Move Brings Huge Relief for Farmers and Families Celebrating Weddings

The government on Thursday announced a new set of measures to ease the massive cash crunch after the sudden currency ban

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Picture of Indian currency. Flickr

New Delhi, November 17, 2016: The government on Thursday announced a new set of measures to ease the massive cash crunch which followed after the sudden currency ban. Since November 8, the government announced several measures to reduce the pressure on people.

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Here are a few of the latest announcements made:

• The limit for exchanging the notes at the banks has been reduced to Rs. 2,000 from Rs. 4,500 for each person from Friday. Economic Affairs Secretary, Shaktikanta Das said that by this way more people would get a chance to exchange the old notes of Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000.

[bctt tweet=”Notes swapping limited To Rs. 2,000 from tomorrow” username=””]

• Families can withdraw a maximum of Rs. 2.5 lakh for weddings but that is only from one account and based on self-declaration. This was necessary as because in the wedding season, the notes ban led to a severe crisis for those families who had withdrawn cash in bulk before the demonetisation or need cash for wedding purpose.

• “Crop loans are sanctioned by various banks to farmers. The government has allowed Rs 25,000 per week for farmers to draw in cash, subject to the limit of which crops they are sowing. This cash can also be taken from their Kisan credit card,” Das said.

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• Agri-Traders can withdraw up to Rs. 50,000 per week from their designated bank accounts to pay the expenses such as wages

• “Farmers who sell their produce in mandis, against the payments they receive by way of cheque or RTGS method (electronic transfers into their bank accounts), they can draw up to Rs 25,000 per week from their own account,”Das said.

• The time limit to pay the insurance premium on crop loan has been extended by 15 days.

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• Government employees will have the option to draw the salary advance in cash.

-by NewsGram team with inputs from agencies