The Agriculture Sector contributes about 15.4% of the GDP of our nation. Agriculture has employed two-thirds of India’s population, which is more than any other sector could employ. Farmers form the core of the agricultural industry, especially in the case of commercial crops which provide raw materials to industries. Agriculture is not just primary to the industrial sector, it also is a market for industrial machinery. Support farmers in India. They need your help in this hard time.
With the advent of the Pandemic, the economy shifted focus, and the first lockdown sent people panic-buying essentials from the market. On the other side of the supply chain, the lockdown created scarcity for farmers in labor and equipment needed to harvest the rabi (winter) crop. The supply of perishable items like milk, vegetables, and fish were disrupted because of lockdown restrictions that could not meet the ever-increasing demand.
Some migrant laborers work as daily wage laborers and return to their farmland during the harvest season, but transport unavailability has hindered them. Moreover, in some areas, the increased influx of laborers coming back home has burdened the farming sector because of a fixed budget from high input costs and low market rates, leading to less income from farming per head.
The Kharif crop that is sown in May was obstructed by the inadequate provision of seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, and the labor available was less and expensive because of restricted mobility.
There needs to be a Minimum Support Price (MSP) for the farmers to secure a decent standard of living even when the food grain market is going through such shocks. Joining Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs), access to small-scale loans and credit facilities, and investment in capacity building will also help the farmers to avoid being vulnerable to the unpredictable demand and supply forces. It is also possible for some e-commerce industries and delivery companies to invest in crucial logistics in agricultural commodities. Structural reforms like land leasing, contract farming, and private agricultural markets need to be uniformly implemented all over the country, along with setting up farmer helpline numbers operating Pan-India for quicker report and redressal of farmers’ concerns.
An impetus from the side of the Government was providing Rs. 2000 to every farmer’s bank account registered under the PM-KISAN Scheme, and an increase in farmer wages under the NREGA Scheme. The Union Home Ministry also waived off restrictions on farmers/laborers’ inter-state and intra-state movement of farmers/laborers and farming machinery. To indulge in good credit behavior, waiving off farming loans was avoided. Still, agricultural term and crop loans were made available to farmers with a 3% concession on interest on loans up to Rs. 3,00,000.
With the existing legislations for the agricultural sector and the lockdown removing the middlemen present in the midst of bringing produce from the farm to your fork, Kalpaka suggests a unique arrangement. The local authorities governing one or more villages can have one truck to carry produce from the farms to the surrounding urban or rural markets, and the transport cost can be borne by the end user. This way the farmers get their produce sold without depending on middlemen to do so.
The agricultural sector is a vital part of our economy irrespective of how the Country is growing. We support the second largest population in the world, and food requirement is nowhere less. We must help strengthen our farmer communities first and make them self-sufficient to ensure that our country does not fall back on food grains when it’s time to compete with the developed countries in the world. Our support can help farmers in India to survive this difficult time.
Do you have ideas on how we can help the farmers make a decent living during this Pandemic? Send us your suggestions to [email protected].
Source: The Economics Discussion