Thursday, August 23, 2007

जन पक्ष की जीत है कृषि नीति की वापसी

आज दोपहर में मायावती मंत्रिमंडल ने अपनी कृषि नीति वापस ले ली इस निर्णय को जनतांत्रिक संघर्षों की जीत समझा जा सकता है । यह निर्णय तात्कालिक भी हो सकता है क्योंकि पूँजी वो भी प्राइवेट कॉरपोरेट पूँजी अपने लिए नए रास्ते तलाश करती है और भारत के संदर्भों में देखें तो विश्व बैंक और एशिआई विकास बैंक और अन्य बहु पक्षीय समझौतों की शर्तों के तहत देश के आम लोगों की जरूरतों में शर्तों के रुप में प्रायवेट कॉरपोरेट निवेश को लादते रहे हैं । नए कृषि नीति की वापसी तात्कालिक ही सही जन पक्षधरता के लोगों की जीत तो है ही लेकिन हमेशा की तरह यह मात्रा अर्ध विराम ही है ।

इस प्रक्रिया में सेंटर फ़ॉर कोन्तेम्परारी स्टडीज ऎंड रिसर्च , इंसाफ़ , भारतीय किसान यूनियन एवं अन्य संगठनो के साथ मीडिया की भूमिका साधुवाद की पात्र है लेकिन गौर कीजिये दबे पावों कथित पब्लिक प्रायवेट पर्त्नेर्शिप के नाम पर अर्थव्यवस्था के हर क्षेत्र में कॉरपोरेट कैपिटल की तय्यारी है उम्मीद है जन पक्षीय आवाजें असर कराती रहेंगी


Thursday, May 17, 2007


By Sanjay VijayVergiya
Political and administrative power centers have used a dictum like phrase ‘India lives in villages and agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy and all round growth of the country’, for misleading the masses. India is an agrarian economy and the sector is providing direct employment to 66 percent of the workers and also contributing towards the growth of manufacturing and service sector in the country. By and large as per the plan approaches of previous plans agriculture sector contribution to GDP is declining since 5th five year plan. ‘Vision 2020’ of planning commission envisaged that agriculture sector contribution to GDP would be reduced to 6 percent by 2020. The need is to realize that despite reported decline in the public sectors’ contribution to GDP; it remains the largest employment providing sector. It has become victim of reducing public sector investments. It seems that plan outlay for agriculture sector is reversely proportionate to persons employed in the sector and expectations from the sector.

Much has been talked about production, productivity, food grain requirements and future forecasts of food grain requirements. Even in the era of self-sufficient food grain production in the country, primary producer especially small marginal and landless farmers are continuously struggling for household level food security. The irony is that at one end food processing industries are growing and their reported contribution to GDP is increasing and market forecasts are favoring potential of exponential growth of the sub-sector and other primary producers [farmer especially small marginal farmers] are struggling for survival.

GDP has become a parameter of growth and it is not easy to understand that why agriculture sectors’ contribution to GDP is declining and contribution of sectors and sub-sectors dependent on agriculture is increasing. In total most of the sectors and sub-sectors of Indian economy are dependent on agriculture and growing with a faster pace but agriculture has been victimized for so-called growth of secondary and tertiary sector of the economy. It seems like a deliberated and well thought attempt for negligence of agriculture and farmers. Food processing industry is just an indicating example. The list can be much longer that inclusive of milk processing, paper, plywood, board, fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, tractor, agriculture implements, diesel, diesel operated engines, irrigation equipments, silk, cotton, cold storage, exports of agriculture produces, processed food and milk and many more. Industries directly dependent on agriculture are growing at the cost of agriculture. It is not limited to manufacturing and processing industries but trading or retailing activities and services including finance & banking, insurance are also growing and assessing agriculture or rural market’s potential.

The farmers and agriculture sector has become victim of growth of other sectors and sub-sectors of the economy dependent on agriculture itself but are not willing to share their growth with agriculture sector rather keep crying in the name of low agriculture sector growth rate.

In the calculation of workforce, only cultivators and agriculture laboures are included in category of agriculture based workforce and workforce engaged in the industries. And service sectors that directly benefiting in the name of serving to agriculture sector or growing only because of agriculture keeps out of the persons dependent on the sector. Such workforce including persons working in agriculture universities, agriculture research institutions, agriculture department, agro or food processing industries and other industries and services are out of the category of workforce dependent on agriculture sector.

Contribution of agriculture sector can not be measured only on the basis of agriculture production rather their contributions need also to be looked in terms of growth of other sectors and services. Similarly employability of the sector can not be measured only in terms of number of farmers and cultivators rather all the persons in all the categories, whose employment and livelihoods are secure because of agriculture sector, need to be considered as persons or workforce dependent on the agriculture sector.

After the independence, farmers were kept in the category of unorganized – unskilled – part-time workers and their wage rates were calculated significantly lower and used for the fixation of minimum support price and calculation of sectoral contribution to GDP. Despite their contribution to Indian economy in-terms of economic growth, transforming India into a self-sufficient food grain and milk producing country, growth of other sectors and sub-sectors of country’s economy its overall contribution devaluated in the name of development. It is not the end rather their tangible contribution has been continuously neglected and planning process never calculated share of farmers’ investment in the agriculture and other sectors. Market of agriculture inputs and agriculture produces kept out of the purview of agriculture sector and farmers never benefited from the growth of value chain. It is matter of great concern for all that agriculture input and product industries are growing and core agriculture sector growth is reported declining.

Much has been talked about viability of agriculture for small marginal farmers and it has become a general notion that reducing size of operational holdings affecting the agriculture production, productivity and viability. About 88 percent of the country’s farmers are small marginal and lend-less and they are the real force that transform country from food deficit country to food surplus country. Generally small landholders are using mix and multi cropping practices and contributing towards maintaining the biodiversity and maintaining ecological balances, such contribution never being calculated. The need is to understand that small marginal and lend-less farmers contribution towards ensuring macro level food security at the cost of their household level food security.

Reducing size of operational holding, declining, percentage of population under the category of cultivators, increasing landless labourers and increasing food grain production all are realities. Despite all the facts and figures that agriculture production is increasing condition of farmers including landless farmers is deteriorating. Agriculture always measured in terms of production in million tons and farmers economic wellbeing always neglected.

India is full of social-cultural-geographical diversity and each area has its own culture including agriculture practices. Promotion of common variety of seeds and agriculture practices across all the geographical areas affecting production and practices adversely. The need is to realize the mistakes made during last couple of decades though which high water consuming varieties were introduced and promoted in rain fed areas.

It is not only indifferent approaches of government agriculture programs that are affecting the agriculture sector and farmers; the contradictory policies are also aggravating the vulnerability, especially of small marginal and landless farmers. For example it is recommended by several commissions and committees and also mentioned in draft agriculture and farmer policies that transformation of cultivable land for non-agriculture purposes should be restricted or should not be allowed but easy transformation of agriculture land for non-agriculture purposes is one of the reform to be implemented under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission [JNNURM] launched in December 2005. Same is the situation in the case of Special Economic Zones [SEZs].

Repeatedly it has been mentioned that excessive and imbalance use of chemical fertilizer and pesticides causing land degradation and affecting agriculture production, productivity and ecological balances and also increasing costs of agriculture inputs but promotion of bio-farming and sustainable agriculture practices is on low priority of agriculture extension programs. Rather Governments are searching and provoking possibilities for establishment of more fertilizer and chemical industries.

Despite huge plan outlay for and flood control and establishment multipurpose irrigation projects; share of canal irrigation in total irrigation is reducing and flood affected area and flood losses are increasing. Private tubewell especially diesel operated engines have become major source of irrigation and petroleum prizing and supply policy increasing cost of agriculture input and aggravating vulnerability of farmers. The mismatch in engineering structure design is clearly visible in terms of increasing water logged area. A significant portion of population is affected by erosion caused by rivers and displaced from their places. The need is to formulate and implements measure that ensure rights, entitlements and livelihoods of such displaced families. In and out state migration is a reality. Displacement, evacuation, disaster, non-availability of employment opportunities are some common causes of migration. In most of the cases people are migrating in search of means of survival and facing identity crisis at the place of migration. Migrant workers are not only facing identity crises and vulnerable to state atrocities and their socio-political rights are also violated. The need is to understand the real causes of migration and their rights and entitlements should be ensured at all places across the country.

Indian agriculture system and culture is of thousands of the years and we have thousands of the varieties of seeds that are suitable to area specific situations. We have flood resistant paddy varieties and drought resistant wheat and food grain varieties. We had and still have low cost or no cost agriculture practices but they are replaced by so-called high yielding varieties and practices. Gradually farmers have lost their control over seeds and become cost intensive agriculture practices and present trend may make them victim of intellectual property rights and patent regime. The mismatch of farmers’ interest and world trade and international trade policies need to reconsider in favour of farmers. The trade policies are creating conducive environment for large seed producing companies and international players, and farmers are loosing their traditional rights over seeds.

In the pressure of trade and market the hype has been created and it is publicized form most of the spheres that agriculture is becoming non-viable and non-profitable to farmers. And the solution of agriculture sector revival is banked upon promotion of corporate, contract and company farming. It has been argued by a section that agriculture sector revival is possible through private corporate and foreign direct investments. It means that a sector which is unviable for farmers has high potential of growth through transfer of agriculture to private corporate. Similarly much has been talked about increasing agriculture dependent population which creating huge pressure on agriculture. But the fact remain that despite large level reforms in all the sectors and sub-sectors agriculture remain the largest employment sector of the economy and it is also true that in unorganized sector it is only the category of self employed agriculturists in which poverty has been reduced. Current policy and program framework reflects that agriculture sector has a huge growth potential and at the same time it forms such situations that creates threats, especially on small marginal farmers. The revival of agriculture sector is in wellbeing of farmers and not in the hands of private corporate.

The need is to assess the real problems that are affecting farmers and creating threats to their survival. Some suggested measures includes of realization of mistakes done in past, reconstitution of agriculture pricing commission and redefine the procedure of agriculture pricing, considering farming as skilled, fulltime family occupation, realistic measurement of wages for entire unorganized sector, reducing gap between wage rates of organized and unorganized sector, replacement of word like ‘minimum’ with ‘appropriate’, and broad basing of agriculture sector that involve inclusion of all sectors, sub-sectors and activities directly linked with agriculture. Policy making in isolation should be replaced with an integrated farmers’ centric policy focused towards wellbeing of farmers. The broad based agriculture sector should be kept out of the purview of international trade treaties.