It is wise to learn from experience, but it is wiser to learn from farmers’ experience. Indian agricultural system is evolving with time. Incumbent policy makers continue to follow their predecessors while making new agriculture policies. They hardly succeed to pin point the pain points of farmers.
One after another risk factor continues to bother the farming community. Today it is erratic weather condition. Tomorrow it is natural calamity and variability in yields and prices. The other day it is debt burden and imperfect market leading to farmers’ suicide.
The year 2017 was one of these years. Farmers had to bear the brunt of demonetisation across the country. They had to bite the bullets in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandasur while they were agitating in demand of loan waiver and higher prices for their crops. Disturbing pictures of framers in Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra of throwing tons of tomatoes protesting against substantially lower price were witnessed.
However, the union government tried its best to bring structural reforms in agriculture sector by introducing Model APLM Act 2017 and reemphasising on inclusion of as many farmers as possible under the ambit of PMFBY. The aim is to minimise the market risk and insure farmers’ crop.
Amidst all, climate change has posed a serious challenge before the farmers. It is a global phenomenon. But countries across the globe prepare themselves to fight the global menace at local level and prepare their farmers toward climate resilient agriculture.
Thus, it is pertinent to make the farmers part of policy making process. It is easier said than done. Fact is that farmers feel alienated in the present policy system. Increasing fragmentation of land and rising input cost had accentuated risks of farmers. Small and marginal farmers are more vulnerable as they neither have the means nor they reap the benefits of government sponsored schemes.
The year 2018 should be focused on reducing the risk of farmers. It is not the sole responsibility of government. It is the responsibility of all stakeholders. More emphasis should be given proper implementation of existing policies. Where ever it is required, policies should be amended to meet the present requirement of farmers. Technological intervention is highly required to plug the loopholes whether it is streamlining the credit flow to small and marginal farmers or increasing the insurance coverage to non-loanee farmers.