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Promote farming by the joint sector
Vast arable lands are lying uncultivated. Agriculture departments and corporations of the states and Centre can identify large blocks of wasteland. Agricultural experts can prepare project reports suggesting crops most suited to the different agro-climatic endowments. Entrepreneurs can be roped in for floating joint agrarian companies.

The standard of living in rural areas has not improved in the last four decades because farm prices have not kept pace with the rise in prices of industrial inputs and consumer products. On the other hand, the standard of living of industrial labour has improved substantially.

There is a growing discontent among agricultural labourers which has led to increasing agitations and farmer suicides. The cause for the spurt in farmers’ unrest is the inequilibrium between industrial and agricultural prices. This trend has to be arrested.

Need for corporate involvement

Any scheme for rural development will not be successful unless farming activities reach a significant commercial scale. Small land owners may not have the resources to bring about the desired results. The private sector could act in unison with the government to achieve this objective.

Cash crop plantation industry which includes tea, coffee, rubber... has been providing vast employment opportunities and a better standard of living for agricultural labour. Corporate success in agriculture is seen in sugarcane cultivation too. Unfortunately, farming has not received the same fillip as industry has thus far. If corporates take to agriculture, it would lead to increased employment opportunities in villages and provide necessities to the rural population as to their urban counterparts.

Vast arable lands are lying uncultivated. Agriculture departments and corporations of the states and Centre can identify large blocks of wasteland, conduct soil tests and provide information on water availability. Agricultural experts can prepare project reports suggesting crops most suited to the different agricultural climatic endowments, nature of the soil... while also weighing market demand and commercial viability. Entrepreneurs can be roped in for floating joint agrarian companies. 

The government could provide blocks of unutilised land as its contribution to  the equity capital. The balance could be brought in by private industrialists, public financial institutions and the public. These entrepreneurs could be allowed to carry agricultural activities on these lands including forestry and horticulture. 

Several advantages... 

There will be no sub-division and fragmentation of land. Agricultural operations will be carried out economically and profitably. This might also induce land-owners to agglomerate land holdings and catapult agrarian activities to huge commercial success. 

The proliferation of corporate farms will provide an infrastructure for the development of various khadi and village industries, thus arresting the migration of rural population to cities. Corporate farming will offer employment to agricultural graduates and add expertise to farm management. New job avenues would open up in the organised sector. Backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, whose services are widely utilised in agriculture, will receive secure employment opportunities leading to improved living conditions. There would be a general upliftment of the social status of rural people. This would increase their purchasing power which, in turn, will generate a market for industries and augment revenue to the government. 


Constraints in implementation

Several regulations currently throw constraints in implementing the above concept.  But they can be overcome with attention to the following: 

•There is the problem of the land ceiling. This could be overcome by amending the APMC Act allowing land held by companies in which the state or Union government has equity participation, exempted from the provisions of the Act.

•Depending on the availability of water, commercial crops could be grown to make agricultural operations economically viable. 

•While the primary objective should be agriculture, the income of the company can be augmented through dairy farming, poultry, piggery, khadi and village industries. 

Entrepreneurs must also participate in bringing about a change in their own interest. As Clement Attlee said: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” 

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