The Kisans are one of the central figures of our populist political imagination, but will they survive in blood and flesh or become relics? The farmers are in need. The emergence of this agricultural crisis lies in the failure of the land reform program. When public order shifted the focus from land reforms to the Green Revolution to solve the food crisis, it also gave the requirements of social justice and justice to the pragmatism of technocracy and created agricultural apartheid. The technocrats wanted the Green Revolution to succeed, so they chose the rich peasants with large land holdings and money as beneficiaries. Since then the political orientation has been permanent. India has created a politically anchored class of landowners and farmers who have developed a sophisticated mechanism to capture government subsidies and freebies, and to take advantage of government procurement and the minimum support price. The top 10 percent of rural households own 54 percent of the total arable land, while the bottom 50 percent control less than 3 percent of the country (National Sample Survey-399). The future of this lower half of the population is uncertain.
An enormous number of farmers have small and fragmented lots. The income and food generated from such businesses can hardly feed their households all year round. The National Sample Survey 2014 shows that an average agricultural household earns about half of its annual income from cultivation, 32 percent from wages, 12 percent from animal husbandry and the rest from non-agricultural activities. They either grow staple foods that depend on household needs (predominantly in the East Indies and parts of the north), or cash crops if they want to increase their incomes (predominantly in the South and West Indies). The cultivation of crops requires the intensive use of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides of improved but expensive quality and forces farmers to borrow money. The withdrawal of banks and public sector co-operatives has exposed these farmers to private donors and made them highly indebted. Given traditional problems such as unsafe climatic conditions exacerbated by climate change and global warming of hot water, deterioration of the soil and continuing volatility in crop prices, a farmer's life is like a candle in the wind. Regular populist loan waivers do not address the structural problems they face.
Agricultural policy is caught in the debate between justice and efficiency. The left prioritizes justice by campaigning for more government intervention: government-led land and lease reforms, investments in the development of irrigation systems and infrastructure, government supplies of resources, cheaper loans from public sector banks, government procurement, and Strengthen the harvest public distribution system with these procured grains and legumes. The centrists and the right wing are taking an efficiency approach and advocating the development and integration of markets. You want to use the latest technology to increase productivity and yield, and reduce costs and waste. They propose to reorganize supply chains to eliminate middlemen. " [sic] and build more storage rooms. They value food processing and value creation. These proposals assume that farmers will be able to bag the profits previously made by middlemen and capture part of the value chain in the supply chain according to both unsustainable proposals. Lately, the debate has shifted from productivity to income generation. The center has announced an ambitious plan to double farmers' incomes by 2022-23. Harvest insurance is promoted to cover production risk and the higher support price, as well as government procurement to address price risk. Farmers above a certain age receive a pension.
Illustration by Raj Verma
The National Commission for Farmers, headed by M.S. Swaminathan has incorporated most of these strategies and suggestions into his recommendations to improve the condition of farmers. The Commission proposed combining decentralized farmers' production with centralized advisory services, loans and procurement. Your recommendations have yet to be implemented. Agricultural policy is still populist, sporadically responding to crises and targeting only basic staples such as wheat and rice. The farmers remain vulnerable.
The 2011 census shows a slow decline in the peasant economy. It has been reported that the number of farmers has dropped by 8.6 million and, paradoxically, the number of agricultural workers has increased significantly. This indicates that some of the farmers who are giving up their land and are working as wage laborers in other people's land and in MGNREGA projects are being displaced from cultivation. This slow process of voluntarily displacing farmers and transferring their land to presumably richer farmers or businesses through market transactions is exactly what the state wants. The NITI Aayog has established a land lease policy to encourage smaller farmers to rent their land to larger farmers or businesses without fear of losing it forever. This would combine smaller businesses into larger plots of land suitable for commercial agriculture.
The disintegration of the peasant economy will free up land and labor on the market. The consequent restructuring of agriculture will determine the way for a long-term transformation of the rural area. Even if land ownership is consolidated through sales and leasing, a new problem will inevitably arise: how should the displaced farmers be employed? It will not be easy to find them employment or provide them with a stable source of income. The Kisan Long March, held in Maharashtra in 2018, has demonstrated farmers' ability to mobilize and exert populist pressure on the state. Therefore, this trajectory is not continuous and linear. However, the future of farmers is a multi-million dollar deal.
There are various contract agricultural schemes in the country; Larger and well-organized farmers are predominantly involved in the successful ones. The smaller farmers were unsolvable for the companies. To speculate what could happen to farmers, we need to take note of two emerging trends. First, the central and state governments are trying to create various online agricultural markets that focus on sharing information about commodity prices with farmers and allegedly linking them to sellers. Second, some agricultural start-ups have emerged that are trying to get in touch with farmers through contract-like agriculture agreements, provide them with input, teach them new farming methods, provide weather, soil and price information, finance, etc. In the tech start-up area, they provide agronomic information, use sensors and satellite images to monitor harvests, use big data technology, etc. Both interventions try to create agricultural platforms: The state throws a broad network with a thin content ; The private ones are more intense and integrated. These two approaches could either lead to the creation of a state-supported farmer or entrepreneur, or to over-farming in the hands of private platform operators.
Farmers will not go away completely because they can offer the economy a significant amount of unpaid work and reduce their consumption to survive. There are three major options: (i) Farmers with good connections to urban centers will grow high-quality plants such as vegetables, fruits and flowers. (Ii) Those living in the urban periphery would sell their land if they were offered an attractive price if they found alternative livelihoods and (iii) farmers in relatively remote areas would either join the agricultural platforms or survive by diversifying their livelihoods ,
Swagato Sarkar teaches public order