Agriculture and farming in rural India are major sources of income generation. Farmers involved in cultivation either till in their lands or work in fields that somebody else owns. Rules, laws, and acts to support farmers have been formed and revised in our country from time to time. Many of the undesirable provisions have been scrapped from time to time to make way for new reforms, technology-enabled practices, the use of modern techniques in farming, etc. Yet, the toiling farmer at the grassroots level has not achieved much in realising his potential to the fullest; hence these pitfalls are to be addressed seriously. Almost 40% of the workforce in our country is involved in agriculture even today, and 55% of labourers are also employed in various fields of this sector.
Agricultural Face of Recent Budget
The budget presented in February 2019 holds lots of promises to the country’s agricultural sector. From the time of its induction, the Modi government spent more focus on balancing the economy, which directly meant leveraging the gap between the rural and the poor.
Economic reforms focused on bridging the gap between the poor and the rich were brought in place. The economy showed good progress too. In the recent budget, which we can largely call a pro-farmer budget, many of the schemes and initiatives are for the welfare of farmers. There have been many collaborative steps set up to speed up irrigation projects.
Farmer Suicides in Our Country
It’s a very sad fact that farmer suicides account for almost 10% of all the suicides in the country. Since 2013, the cases are only rising. Almost 12,000 closes are reported in our country that only account for farmer suicides. Farmer suicides happening at such an alarming rate are like a plague hit for the whole country, just contagious enough to consume as many minds as possible.
There are just many reasons for farmer suicides. It could be listed as debt burden on the family, unable to repay the loan amount, lack of rainfall causing crops to perish and farmers unable to bargain the right price for their crops in the market, drought situation causing parched lands and eroding soils to infertility levels, etc. It’s good for the government to rescue these helpless farmers when nature plays a downfall with them. Instead, the government recommends policies, which get politicised at the hands of middlemen, and ultimately no refund or resource reaches the right hands of farmers.
Climate change on a global scale is throwing an alarm around the world, causing many concerns for environmentalists worldwide. This is causing the soil to lose its fertility, rains visiting us at the wrong seasons, causing floods that have the potential to wash away big chunks of land with them. A small farmer, unable to sustain the unpredictable forces of nature, undergoes many fears whenever he invests in his land tilling crops. Sadly, when things don’t turn out the way they should, he becomes a victim of a whole lot of mental problems, causing depression and anxiety, conflicting himself with his family, personally throwing himself out of the societal make-up, and ultimately lands in a soup of debt, forcing suicide upon him.
Agricultural Schemes and Reforms Under Modi’s Era
For every grain of rice we eat, we have to thank a farmer for having grown it for us. A farmer who toils every day in the sun and fills our stomach should be given a life of equivalence, isn’t it? They say, ‘what’s in a name, but the face value of an entity begins with a name, and that’s what Mr. Modi envisioned when he changed the agricultural ministry’s name into agriculture and farmer’s welfare ministry.
This was intentionally done to include the main face of agriculture, the farmer, and bring him into the light. Modi ordered the ministry to issue soil health cards to all farmers of India. Giving importance to soil health is because only when the soil is enriched with nutrients, the proper and balanced growth of crops can be expected.
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana aids in providing micro-irrigation facilities to farmers to ensure a good water supply to crops.
- Rashtriya Gokul’s mission aims to help farmers use indigenous and good breeds of cattle to get higher yields from them.
- An Agrobiodiversity Congress was held, which was the first of its kind in our country. The congress, mainly the brainchild of our prime minister, helped bring a rural farmer to the open, diverse market and provided him an opportunity to learn and showcase his yield.
- Farmers have an added advantage and get better price quotes for their crops when markets from various places are clubbed together under one place. This was the idea behind creating an electronic national agricultural market.
- The Gramin agriculture market was a step taken in a similar direction, where the farmer got an equal opportunity to sell his yield to both bulk and retail customers and get higher prices and advantages than before.
- Two important legal acts to protect the interests of the Indian farmers were brought up – The agricultural produce and livestock marketing act,2017, and the Livestock contract farming services act, 2018.
- The NCF (National Commission on Farmers) was given more powers to set up MSP (minimum support price) of crops to provide competitive pricing for farmers. Recently, the MSP was increased by almost 1.5 times to provide better pricing for the general rural farmer.
- The Atal Bhujal Yojana scheme aims at conserving the dwindling groundwater resources to make them an effective resource, to be directed for irrigation facilities.
- Besides agriculture, promotional activities are carried out to improve farmer participation in parallel areas like apiculture, beekeeping, bamboo production to help the cane industry, agro-forestry, etc.
- Steps are also taken by the environmental ministry to preserve the biodiversity of our environment and influence the climatic conditions in a way favorable to the agricultural policies of our country.
- Ensuring good salaries to farmers, managing and strengthening infrastructure and equipment, modernising them, and handling productions at ease will provide a good outreach and favorable market to their produce.
- Ensuring food security for the whole country and ensuring that malnutrition is eradicated gives a holistic view and push to the whole scenario.
The above steps are just a piece of the radar, meaning that the current government led by Mr. Modi has many similar schemes and promotional activities for the farmers. They will help farmers on a large scale and take them off the mindsets of committing suicide by strengthening their resources and creating a favourable environment for their agricultural routing activities.
Success in cloud seeding activities and timely rainfall can also play a good role in favouring the farmer and his produce. Most of all, the government must ensure smooth implementation and successful functioning of these schemes to bring in an extensive network and support system for farmers in our country.