In what practical ways can the income of Indian farmers be augmented?
Despite the fact that the country has made many successful strides in the fields of science and technology, agriculture still remains the backbone of Indian economy. Any neglect of agriculture, by design or default, can land us in serious trouble. If the advocates of agricultural economy plead for due attention and priority to this sector, it is both timely and tenable, to say the least. It is quite ironical to see that those who work day and night in the fields/farms to feed us, are forced to live in penury and debt. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in its report-2007, brought out the startling figure that forty-six farmers commit suicide every day in the country, even as packages are being rolled out in a bid to bailout the debt-ridden community from crisis. Along with some right thinking and knowledgeable people and the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA), some practical proposals have been worked out, and if they are implemented in letter and spirit, the lot of the Indian farmer could improve a good deal.
Since augmentation of income of Indian farmers is the key to ameliorate his ‘hand to mouth’ existence, it is in the fitness of things that farm produce is given fair price by taking into account the hard labour put in by the farmer, high cost of inputs, uncertain weather conditions and so on. Enhancing of irrigation facilities and storing and marketing facilities are the other major issues that need to be addressed. Besides, providing opportunities for supplementary income by developing dairy, poultry, sheep rearing, piggery, etc, wherever possible, also needs immediate attention.
Experience, knowledge and ground realities give out a simple and straightforward message to planners and policy makers. Farmers’ livelihood is beset with umpteen problems and farming is the most risky profession. It is time for all those who sit in legislatures/Parliament to legislate policies and measures which will ensure that farmers get fair compensation for their toil and travails. India is predominantly an agriculture-dependent rural economy. Making plans focused on sitting in accommodating them only in industries is not possible. The best solution is to develop agriculture sustainability by providing huge resources in the years to come. Encouraging rural artisans, and the village and cottage industries as envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi is another way to help the rural masses to enhance their income.