Can PM Modi Save India from Agriculture Crisis?

The present government, clearly, had their focus on manufacturing and service sector rather than the agriculture sector. Now that both have backfired and agriculture sector in doldrums, it is catch 22 situation for the Modi government.

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There have been large scale unrest and crisis in the agricultural sector and amongst farmers. This is probably concerning the incumbent central government as well, as the first pre-budget meeting conducted by Arun Jaitley with sectoral groups has been about agriculture.  What can be anguishing Modi is the grim picture of agriculture sector’s performance and the growth being lower than what it has been under the previous government.

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A lot of Voices Got Silenced and have Disguised Themselves

  • The variation of Indian agricultural performance to large extent depends on the Monsoon and rainfall level.
  • Modi government could have tried to insulate the levels of agricultural produce with the rainfall with a well planned out irrigation system that could have mitigated the rainfall risks.
  • The effective implementation of the irrigation infrastructure has not been possible for this government and the much promised Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and e-NAM have been a failure too.
  • PMFBY has been deceptive to the farmers. The agriculture loans this scheme offers to the farmers have been plagued by the deduction of premiums without their knowledge.
  • Moreover, the promise of compensation for the crop loss has not been met. The losses which were covered by the insurance have been subject to passing the buck among the insurance companies, central government and state government.
  • e-NAM has been struggling as well with the lacking of attention to issues such as grading and assaying the commodities traded.

Ashok Gulati – agricultural economist and a former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, the advisory body of the Government of India on food supplies and pricing policies; is of the view that “the government should undertake ‘Operation Veggies’ where farmers will get better prices for certain vegetables. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and irrigation funds are great moves, but things are not moving on the ground, fix that. Putting food and fertiliser subsidy in DBT will bring biggest savings. If the PM wants to transform Indian agriculture, he can call ministers of only the BJP states and give them a time frame and a list of things that needs to be done. Will any chief minister have the guts to say, we can’t do it?”

Gulati also points out that the distress of the farmers could have been avoided if even half of Rs 785 crore had been allotted earlier to support food processing in earlier years.

  • Therefore, there are sizeable problems laden with the agriculture sector, and clearly government’s focus has not concentrated on this sector.
  • Some major agricultural policy that had been successful in the past is Green Revolution, the milk revolution and the cotton revolution.
  • However, the present government, clearly, had their focus on manufacturing and service sector rather than the agriculture sector.
  • Now that both have backfired and agriculture sector in doldrums, it is catch 22 situation for the Modi government.

It is no way clear that Modi can tide over the difficulties before the next general assembly election. On one hand, urban youths looking towards a government that can provide them the job have been thoroughly disappointed, and on the other hand, the Indian farmers looking good produce that can earn them profits have failed to do so. The size of the disgruntled electorates is increasing amid the run up to the next Lok Sabha Election.