June 1, 2014
Our policies are pushing farmers out of agriculture little realising the grave consequences.

OVER 15 million farmers left agriculture between 1991-2011 due to rising input costs and little profit. Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma talks about the current model of development which is pushing farmers to low-paying dailywage jobs in cities. He  proposes direct farm income and local production, storage and distribution network to deal with the crisis.

Talking about government schemes, including minimum support prices for major crops and farm loan waivers, he Sharma says such handouts are only meant to prevent the anger from spilling out on to the street and are not long term solutions. "MSP benefits only 30 per cent farmers as most of the farmers have no surplus to bring to the markets. These are the people in terrible distress and hence committing suicides," he explains.

India has about 600 mn farmers, making up 1/3rd of the world's farming population. Moving them out of agriculture at a time when the world is witnessing jobless growth is going to be more problematic in the years to come, both socio-economically as well as politically. "India needs to stop worrying about declining share of agriculture in GDP. America's agriculture sector only contributes 4 per cent to its economy but it has realised that producing own food is important to remain sovereign," Sharma says.   

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