India on verge of farm disaster: M.S. Swaminathan

by Dave

India 364
Image by leetucker via Flickr

India was the leading economy of the world for much of the last 2000 years from wealth generated from agricultural surplus. As Jim Rogers says, India should be the greatest agricultural country in the world, not America, with great weather, soils, climate. But, government policies militate against farming as a lucrative profession with antiquated laws on farm holding limits and buying policies for output.

Indian farmers are political cannon fodder; once they are economically empowered politicians are redundant. So, farmers will continue to be kept in economic intensive care by the political class. It can be a long wait for any meaningful changes in farm policies.

Traveling through the farm areas of Latin America in Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina with great soils and weather help me imagine what a paradise, agricultural and otherwise, historic India with 50 million people over its current land area must have been. And farming in these Latin American regions is entirely in private sector hands and they are all export powerhouses. It is in these regions that Indian entrepreneurs should deploy capital for augmenting existing local agribusiness ventures or starting new ones. Priority areas include production of pulses and edible oils.

via The Economic Times.

MS Swaminathan, top farm scientist and one of the architects of India’s green revolution, has warned that the country would face a food crisis if agriculture and farmers were ignored.

“We are on the verge of a disaster. We will be in serious difficulty if food productivity is not increased and farming is neglected,” Mr Swaminathan said on the sidelines of the 97th Indian Science Congress being held here. “The future belongs to nations with grains and not guns. The current food inflation is frightening. If pulses, potatoes and onions are beyond the purchasing capacity of the majority, malnourishment will be a painful result,” he said.

“I want the government to act upon three major recommendations,” the Rajya Sabha member said. “It should change compensation laws as farmers do not have pay commissions like the sixth pay panel; attract youth to farming; and amend the Women Farmers’ Entitlement Act to allow women avail bank loans without their land as a collateral security .”