Ad Here  
March
April
May
June
July
August
 
 
Get more from less land ... South should focus on horticulture, high value crops... Potentials and impediments Nothing sustainable unless economically viable... Creating seeds of distress The growing fad on organic farming The rice revolution Need for structural reforms Wanted Green Revolution 2.0 The brown revolution… They don’t have to die New seed of technology… Organic farming derails agriculture development The ‘doles’ society They don’t have to die Promote farming by the joint sector More from less works well at TNAU Precision farming comes of age? The dogma within! Double food output in ten years... it’s feasible! Doubling food output in ten years Can organic agriculture provide food security to India?
 
Need for structural reforms
Athi vrushti, anaa vrushti. Problems of plenty and of scarcity is an old saying. With long years of shortfalls in production to meet demand, our administrators gained expertise in handling shortages. However, they have not yet perfected the art of managing surpluses and are afraid to plan quantum growth in production.

A few years ago, I met the Member, Planning, in-charge of agriculture, Dr Abhijit Sen. I was fresh after looking at high productivity farms in the mid-west USA and California where productivity of corn and tomato were over ten times that of India’s. I found the advantages enjoyed by India in terms of its tropical climate that permitted farming round the year, multiple cropping and average rainfall higher than that in California.  I also pointed to the scope for achieving quantum jumps in productivity due to the low base. I suggested targeting a double digit growth in agriculture ending years of low growth.  

 

‘Shouldn’t grow higher than four per cent’

Sen was shocked. With production then of around 230 mn tonnes of foodgrains, he pointed to India’s food surplus to huge buffer stocks of around 60 million tonnes and to the difficulty of handling higher production. He was emphatic that India should not attempt more than a four per cent annual growth. 

I pointed to the enormous potential of India to emerge a strong exporter of foodgrains and to the scope for diversification of agri products. No, Sen was firm. And through the next ten years food production chugged along to reach the level of 260 million tonnes. 

Fortifying Sen’s fears, the recent farming crisis in Madhya Pradesh is the result of plenty. Over the last decade MP has been recording handsome increases in production of agriculture. There was also a shift to horticulture with production more than doubling in a short time. 

While developed countries were ready with solutions to handle huge jumps in production, India has not been addressing this issue. When corn farmers in the mid-west US suffered due to abundant production and falling demand, the state paid the farmers for cutting down production; simultaneously, research was stepped up in the US on the uses of corn. The most profitable was in the production of ethanol to power automobiles. In a country that moves on wheels, this brought twin benefits - ensuring remunerative farm prices and ensuring energy security. Corn production boomed.

Sadly, agriculture production in different states is still dependent on monsoons. Tamil Nadu’s production was registering increases in the last three years. There was jubilation over agri production exceeding over 130 lakh tonnes last year. But widespread drought has caused production falling to just around 70 lakh tonnes this year. Similar has been the experience in Karnataka and Kerala that also suffered failure of monsoons. 

 

Agriculture a state subject…

Over the years administration of agriculture has moved drastically away from the Centre. This has led to uncoordinated implementation policies.

From the early decades of independence right up to the 1970s, the country had brilliant policymakers of stature and vision. C Subramaniam, the Father of Green Revolution, made remarkable use of civil servants, scientists and visionaries like Verghese Kurien. Knowledgeable leaders like Jagjivan Ram and civil servants like  B Shivaraman,  M S Swaminathan, P V Shenoy and 

M S Gill introduced sound policies that were effectively adopted by the states. Disappointingly, from 1990s such coordinated development efforts have been missing. 

1 2
Author :
Reported On :
Sector :
Shoulder :
RELATED NEWS
ABOUT IE
IE, the business magazine from south was launched in 1968 and pioneered business journalism in south. Through the 45 years IE has been focusing on well-presented and well-researched articles. When giants in the industry stumbled to keep pace with the digital revolution, IE stayed affixed embracing technology.
Read more
 
PRIVACY POLICY
Economist Communications Ltd is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected.
Read more
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
You agree that your use of this Website and the purchase of the magazine will be governed by these terms and conditions.
Read more
 
CONTACT US
S-15, Industrial Estate,
Guindy,
Chennai - 600 032.
PHONE: +91 44 22501236
EMAIL: indecom1968@gmail.com