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Friday, 24 April 2015

Farmers' Suicides and Seventh Heaven!



A very disturbing picture emerges when we see such news of farmers' suicide and this reality happen so often in India be it cash crop or regular crop. Farming is the most riskier occupation as we are open to weather irregularities. More than 60 % of Indian workforce is engaged in this occupation both directly and indirectly. Small, marginal and landless labourers are taking the baits to make India self- sufficient and self- reliant in agriculture. Big farmers are having some advantages appropriating a large portion of government largess/ subsidies. And in addition, diversified occupation in terms of non-agricultural employments and assured stream of income support from such streams help them monopolizing little advantages that agricultural sector offers from time to time.

Labour cannot be saved thus disguised employments are prevalent in agri-sector , which helped retaining some dignity to workforce claiming to be engaged at least. Present statistics of offering engagements to 60 % workforce, prevalent of small landholdings, wide spread disguised unemployment, relative price disadvantages with limited capacity of storage are big hurdles to be addressed before dreaming of remunerative agri-production growth that justifies required income growth commensurate to production growth and risk mitigation efforts. Though agriculture is labour intensive now more 60% of the energy requirement in the process is machine power rather manpower. That means the extent of zero/ minimum/ negative productive labour numbers must have increased. Taking in to consideration the cost factor due to mechanization, seeds,private irrigation, current weather hazards, productivity growth is not translating into any positive spin offs to stakeholders here except the consumers in most of the times. Other group may be the traders.

Mechanisation and use of industry products and practices give it a shape of organized industry or trades. They have in fact alienated conservative farmers business system and poor farmers' imitation of practices have made them more vulnerable. Calorie-gain policy, food availability policy by Government, have disturbed the relationship between price and distribution dynamism from agricultural sector in India. So easy mechanization of farming and industry practices are new buzzwords in agriculture practices. This definitely creates dreams of more production and prosperity in the eyes of farmers. And this also to the costs of production, distribution, selling of products. So we dont see much group financing here though group vulnerability has increased. Industrial inflation is a bad news here as farmers have to absorb it in costs and helpless in pricing. In short farmer accommodates all shocks regularly either complaining or remaining voiceless with no change in outcomes.

On the other hand enthusiasm and expectations from 7th Pay Scale / Seventh Heaven is gradually rising in Central and State Government employees. Though the learned mass of government employees know that the growth in jobs and incomes of private sector has fallen, tax growth has fallen . Still a market anticipates a cool or steep 30 % rise immediately after 2016-17. The country has stopped thinking about the plight of poor producers or poor farmers. Demand for earmarking special agro-zones and agri-insurances and weather coats policies have fallen into deaf ears for want of funds and more so for vision to carry out. And yet some sectors have grown or get support from government though their services can be dispensed with as accountability is yet to be seen. Yet these farmers with zero assets and all liabilities to themselves, to families and to us are seeing Heavens with non-viability in each production cycle.....

To be Continued…

By: Prashant

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