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Is agriculture failing India?

By Shubhda Chaudhary

· Rural India

Anonymously lost in the fragment of time, ignored by policies and haggling politics, agriculture in India in spite of having a long-fetched and organic link with the farmer, silently suffers in neglect. Becoming footnotes in the buzzing and glaring media pieces, farmer deaths, horrendous condition of rural widows, impact of drought on livelihood and lack of empowerment, have further rebuked the farmer’s conscience, unapologetically. Ironically, when India embraced the 7.3% growth last year, the stinking stagnation of rural agriculture sector remained constant, almost inevitable. Ashok Gulati, the Chair Professor at Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations recently stated that agriculture in rural India amounts to 49% of the population involved with farming activities. The agriculture sector is marred with countless problems, such as blatant inequality in the current land distribution system, insecurity in tenancy, poor farming methods as well as inadequate irrigation facilities.

Vehemently dominated by the vacuous circle of money-lenders, landlords and fragile banking system, agriculture has fallen prey to several socio-economic factors, lack of needed finance, absence of productive investment, defects in the land tenure system as well as small agriculture holdings. In fact the Economic Survey of 2015-16 revealed that Indian agriculture system has fallen prey to its own initial past success like the Green Revolution and hence, remains jeopardized. The National Agriculture Research System which once played a pivotal role in harnessing the productivity of Indian agriculture has now become stagnation, unable to invent new breakthroughs and policy changes. Though, there were expectations that establishing National Agriculture market would aid farmers to sell their crops anywhere in the country, India has not yet witnessed a concrete and galvanized platform, as it slowly hides in the oblivion of history. Though, government plans to double the farmer’s income by 2022, the concrete steps behind such ‘miracle of miracles’ are exhausted, replete with its own policy paralysis.

Thus, in spite of being one of the significant pillars in Indian economy, agriculture suffers tremendously. Professor M S Swaminathan stated that Indian agriculture ails from several inadequacies such as loss of farm land, depleting bio-diversity, policy paralysis and loopholes in the public distribution system. With several layers of poverty inflicting the rural population tremendously catapulted with the high food prices, decline of the agriculture GDP continues to haunt millions of farmers on an everyday basis. Lack of secure income, higher risks involved in farming, stupendous loans of farmers have further worsened the situation.

If today agriculture is failing India, it needs to be realistically accepted that the ultimate cause of turning a farmer into a victim has never received considerable attention. Quite unfortunately, in the era of rising start-ups in India, hardly any concrete name has specialized in agricultural marketing or establishment of farming cooperatives, abysmally stating how the plight of millions of Indians living in rural India has been insensitively ignored, and further deteriorating the scenario. The farmers of today have become unofficial statistics of census, GDP and annual growth, without being endowed a focused scrutiny. If this remains the case, India’s development would be orphaned without the empowerment of agricultural sector, a dark reality which must be confronted in time.

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