Beyond 4.9 per cent Growth
Third year of NDA government has registered an impressive 4.9 per cent agricultural growth. After two consecutive years of drought and dismal performance of the agriculture sector, the growth story might have made the political masters happy. Reasons ranging from generous monsoon to new schemes to a slew of reform measures are to be attributed for this growth.
It is believed that Indian agriculture will gain momentum in next few years with increased investment in infrastructure like irrigation facilities, warehousing, cold storage and marketing systems.
Pause here for a moment. Ask a simple question – is the growth rate sustainable? Can we assure the farmer a good return on his investment?
Think of the statistics released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB’s) annual report, Crime in India”. The report reveals that in 2015 the number of agrarian riots has increased by 327 per cent. There are significant increase in agrarian riots in states like UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and Gujarat. Though many
cases are related to land dispute, water and land acquisition, yet it is a matter of great concern.
These are manifestation of farmers’ distress. Disguised unemployment is a serious problem in agriculture sector. A large agricultural population with lowest proportion of land in actual cultivation does not augur well in regards to labour productivity.
Farmers’ unrest continues to rise across the country, see the problems in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat, Odisha and many other states.
If we continue to ignore the agrarian riots and crisis across the country, we have to face a serious problem in future. There is no room for complacency with the impressive figure of 4.9 per cent growth.
The government is talking about doubling farmers’ income by 2022. How could it be achieved? Many argue for reducing cost of production, many for increasing MSP. Some demand for creating infrastructure and improving market linkage.
Number of people employed in agriculture has to be reduced to increase their income. We have to create alternate employment opportunities in allied, processing industries and non-agriculture industries.
Green Revolution which helped increase food grain production and saved India from hunger and starvation has proved a bane now. Water table has receded in states such as Punjab, Haryana and most of North Indian states to an alarming low. Soil health has degraded. The problem is bigger than the growth statistics.