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

By Prachi Mishra

Every day, from breakfast to dinner, our lives are touched by the farmers as the food we eat is cultivated by them. But never even once, a thought crosses our minds about the sacrifices peasants make so we can enjoy our daily bread.

This year itself, thousands of farmers have ended their lives because they were unable to provide basic sustenance to their families.

The poor farmers are vulnerable to a larger variety of risks, which not only affect individuals, but their households or the entire community. Other than the risk of injuries, accidents, underemployment, these farmers also have to deal with the risk of natural calamities like heavy rainfall, droughts, cyclones, etc.

The condition of the farmers in India is deplorable, and over the last 67 years since Independence, the political parties have used them only for political gains. Indian politicians, instead of coming up with solutions to the woes of the farmers, keep lamenting about the situation.

What is needed by the government is to adopt the policies, which have been tried and tested in the nations where farmers live a dignified life. One such example from which India could take cues is of Denmark.

Denmark is renowned for its profitable agriculture sector. In India, the farmers, who cultivate food for the country, cannot provide their own families with two square meals, while in Denmark, the farmers produce food sufficient to feed three times of its actual population. The farmers in Denmark are given proper education of around 4.5 years to enhance their skills and competency. The marketing and food companies are owned by the farmers themselves, unlike India where the agro-based companies are owned by industrialists who eat away the farmer’s share of profit.

Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has laid down certain rules regarding the storage of manure, livestock farming, handling and storage of manure. Some of the rules are:

·          Cover on manure storage

·          Education for farmers using chemicals

·          Updated list on safe pesticides

·          Safe storage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides

India should take up Denmark as a model to improve the livelihood of its farmers. Instead of handing over the control to multinational corporations, the government can form farmer cooperatives, which could look into the production as well as the marketing of agricultural goods. Farmers should also be aided with proper education and infrastructure.

It’s not that India does not have plans to provide the farmers with subsidies and welfare schemes. Every now and then, we see political leaders supporting pro-farmer movements and coming up with new proposals to aid them. Several NGOs represents the vulnerability of farmers and urges the government to support them. Then, why are the Indian farmers still sustaining in a deplorable condition?

We have enough social protection plans in our country to redress the grievances of the farmers. It’s just that these plans are not implemented properly. Therefore, instead of coming up with new schemes, the government should make sure that the existing welfare program are exhausted to their full extent to benefit the farmers.

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