India’s Robust Food Security Supported by the Weakest Farmers

Indian agriculture with 20% share in GDP estimated at Rs.19.5 lakh crore is supported by 15 crore resource poor farmers, basically hand to mouth. It’s pity, most of them are surviving on cash dole and free ration, as if in a refugee camp!

Indian farmers usually receive 10-23% of the value of their farm produce as against 64-81% in developed countries. As a result, commodity associations, trading houses dealing with various agri commodities turned super rich in no time. Whereas smallholder/ marginal farmers continue to remain poor, rather hand to mouth, for generations.

Should ‘Smart India’ carry forward the burden of ‘Unsmart Agriculture’, how long?
Probably, time has come to abandon the dream project ‘Doubling Farmers Income’ by 2022, launched 7 years ago, which appears a far cry! Better, initiate exercise to pay remunerative price to farmers having rationality to MRP and closer to price charged from consumers.

Farmers are continuously getting into debt trap due to less income and high expense in day-to-day life; resulting repeated borrowings and suicide in extreme cases.
It’s time to introspect whether India is really moving towards ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’!

Fact remains: Monthly income of agricultural household is as lowest as Rs. 3,558 in Bihar as compared to Rs. 18,059 in Punjab. Similarly, 25% of 135 crore people continue to remain poor, highest being in Bihar (51.9%), followed by Jharkhand (42.2%), Uttar Pradesh (37.8%), Madhya Pradesh (36.7%), Assam (32.7%), Chhattisgarh (29.9%), Odisha (29.4%).

Needless to say, most of the states are powered by Double Engines !

Mukti Sadhan Basu
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Dr Mukti Sadhan Basu is a former director of the National Research Centre for Groundnut, Indian Council of Agricultural Research. He was also International Consultant on Aflatoxin Management, UNIDO and worked in Africa in that capacity. Presently he is Managing Director of SBSF Consultancy.