The Green revolution wave in the late 1960s and 1980s made great strides in increasing food grain production and helped India attain food-self
sufficiency. But, the farmer’s condition has not improved. The Urban -rural income divide is increasing. It was 2:1 at the time of independence, now it is 7:1. Which means, if a man in city earns Rs. 7; his counterpart in the rural areas only gets Rs. 1 or just 15 paisa against it.
As a consequence, since 1995, more than 253,000 farmers have been reported to have committed suicides in India, making this the largest wave of suicides in the world. The wave of farmer suicides that have swept across India since the mid-1990s is a simple case of policy-induced disaster of epic proportions.
As nearly two-thirds of the population of India depends on agriculture which is the backbone of their livelihood and security systems, the BJP has laid down measures to achieve 5 percent agricultural growth in the coming years to reverse agrarian crisis, and steer growth and development to make farmers economically self-sufficient.
Constitution of Farmers Welfare Board: On the pattern and composition of Planning Commission, there will be high powered 7 – 10 members Farmers Welfare Board, which shall look into the welfare programs of farmers to ensure income insurance from farming, formulate and monitor social safety programs for farmers.
Launch of Agriculture Channels: BJP government will launch two dedicated 24 hours agriculture channels in Hindi and English, and in regional languages for timely information and guidance on crop planning, crop and livestock management, new farming opportunities, and weather and market related information.
Seed Villages and Organic Villages: BJP will launch the program of creating 50,000 Seed Villages in the country under PPP with ICAR technical support. Similarly, BJP is committed to promoting Organic Agriculture, under the concept of ‘back to nature’ to make farmers self-reliant.
Rural Growth Centres: Based on the pattern of Rural Business Hubs model of China, BJP will create one Rural Growth Centre in each of the 2.40 lakh Gram Panchayats, which will work as nodal points in executing large number of Government schemes and welfare programs for farmers and rural masses.
Farmers Income Insurance Scheme: BJP is committed to bring about legislation to cover 100% farmers under the income insurance scheme to protect them in bad times and safeguard their interests.
Farm Commodity Boards: To take the advantage of global markets for agri produce, BJP will promote commodity organisations- It will include the producers, who will take their produce globally, on the pattern of Farmers Producer Organisations, similar to countries like Australia Wheat Board, Canola Association of Canada, and appoint its Agriculture Counsellors in major embassies to help promote India’s food and agriculture trade.
Crop Planning and Assured Prices: The current Minimum Support Price (MSP) and marketing system is faulty in operation. The prices are decided after the sowing of crops is done and leaves farmers with little time to calculate their income. If the crop prices are declared before sowing time, then the farmers will be able to estimate the income and cost of production for different crops and will help develop their own budgeting figures.
(The writer is President, Centre for Agriculture & Rural Development)
Key challenges BJP will address to make reforms in agriculture sector
- To work on MS Swaminathan committee report that had recommended that the Minimum Support Price cover the cost of production plus a minimum of 50 percent for the farmers.
- To introduce Income Guarantee Scheme to overcome due to weather, prices and trade policies.
- To promote Organic agriculture to stop exploitation of bio-resources, growing marketing inefficiencies and increasing agro-waste.
- To promote Terminal Markets and link farmers with modern marketing system to improve market inefficiencies
- To set up Custom Hiring Centres at Nyay Panchayat level to provide entire range of farm machinery to farmers on nominal rent.
- To provide Farm Loan at 4% interest and establish 50,000 seed villages to provide quality seed at affordable rates.
- Set up 2.40 lakh Panchayat level Rural Growth Centres in villages to create 1 million jobs and 10 million self-employment opportunities.