Friday, December 09, 2011

FDIs in Agriculture

FDI (Foreign Direct investment) is one of the recent buzz words in India; the word has been in debate among the political circles, social classes and TV studios. I would like to present my views on Private Investments including FDI’s in Agriculture. When the FDI s are possible with retail Industry, why can’t the UPA Government think about the Agriculture, why the governments and Industry are unable to understand the farmer as entrepreneurs. I feel the Government is failed to identify the farmers’ entrepreneur skills and they are not developing the farmers’ core competence which are necessities to Indian agriculture. The government has to liberalize the policies and encourage the Industry to work closely with agriculture…… then only the Indian agriculture will flourish.

My belief is that the Indian agriculture growth will be possible through technologies only, as we know that the green revolution in late 1960s and the recent BT cotton revolution are the best examples for the same. So we need Private partnership model (either foreign or native) in Indian agriculture to build the capacity through innovative practices and methodologies. The agriculture need to be treated as an Industry, government should allow partnership in farming and make the farmers as entrepreneurs. As we know the Indian farmers are facing problems with essential requirements of agriculture like water, labor, Inputs, credit and markets.

Irrigation system plays a critical role in productivity of the land and land prices. As long as the sufficient water available, there is no complaint from the farmers for other things. I strongly believe there is no dearth for lands in India, we have lot of arid and semi arid lands are available but there is no irrigation facilities, that is the reason farmers are not interested cultivate. If the governments work in that direction like minor irrigation projects, lift irrigation projects with World Bank funds, there will be lot of growth in farm production. We know that the Israel’s agriculture… how they are efficient in water consumption in agriculture, they don’t spare even one drop of water. Why can’t our governments invite the Israel’s irrigation companies to invest and develop the drip irrigation systems for our agriculture?  China did the same thing, their deserts are bloomy with the help of Israel companies.

Labor shortage is the biggest threat to Indian farmers, most of the unemployed rural youth are changing their occupations for better income and to avoid the laborious nature of farm work. Modern farm equipment is ideal solution to overcome the labor shortage and physical drudgery. The usage of farm equipment is very less in India though it has largest agriculture economy. Application of modern farm equipment/ machine tools in agriculture will reduce the labor cost and it will improve the productivity and income. In India, we have a harvesting tool called “SICKLE” which has been in use from 3000 BC (found in Indus valley civilization); when the developed nations are moving forward by mechanizing their agriculture….we are still using the 3000 years old tools. We need lot of modern equipments like planting and harvesting machines, fertilizing and pesticide sprayers, dairy equipment and poultry equipment and so on. Our government should emphasize the importance of modern farm machinery and they should invite private investors including foreign agriculture equipment companies to set up their manufacturing units to help our Indian agriculture.

After green revolution, intensity of Indian agriculture has changed to competitive environment. The usage of fertilizers, pesticides and hybrid seeds has increased and simultaneously production also increased. The improved seeds, agro chemicals and modern farm technologies have shown positive impact on socio economic conditions of the Indian farmers. We need crops which are fortified with nutrients and Fertilizers which are added with micro nutrients to feed the soil. As we know the Indian cotton revolution has made by BT cotton only which was invented by Monsanto, we need more technologies and science in farming which are supposed to be create value-added crops, medicinal crops, and bio fuel crops. There is still great need of research on drought resistant, decease resistant and herbicide tolerance crops. Africa is the best example for such innovative crops and practices, our Government of India (GOI) should launch Free Trade Agreements with developed nations or multination research organization to set up their research stations for our agriculture growth.

As we know the Indian farmers are struggling for remunerative prices, suffering with too many restrictions and controls to market their produces. The Indian markets are traditionally operated by middle men, lot of mismanagement, exploitation and lacking with modern agriculture-infrastructure. Reforms in agriculture marketing are inevitable to upgrade our marketing systems and facilities to link with nationwide markets. The new agriculture marketing systems should connect the farmers with food processors and retailers which need to mitigate the mediators’ involvement. I welcome the UPA government decision on allowing FDIs in retail markets; it’s definitely favorable to farmers and it’s nothing but remodeling the Indian agriculture sector. Market efficiency depends on marketing strategies and market Infrastructure; that can be possible with massive investments which are going to fulfill by FDI’s.

India economy is growing and considered as third largest economy in terms of public private partnership. Indian economic policy reforms have given tremendous growth in employment opportunities and living standards of the people. India is the best destination for huge human resource, excellent agro climatic conditions and vast markets… but what we are lacking is modern technologies and infrastructure. GOI should renovate the policies to allow FDIs in Agriculture to overcome our drawbacks and to make the Indian agriculture as prestigious, profitable, successful and sustainable.

Monday, November 07, 2011

India needs reinforced Met Dept

 
Monsoons are very important to Indian economy because 60% Indian population is depend on agriculture and agriculture share is around 15% in total GDP. Most of Indian farming is depending on monsoons only…. that’s why historically Indian economy used to be called as “Monsoon economy”. Generally Indian monsoon season starts from June to September, but this year southern part of India has heavy deficit in rainfall and Andhra Pradesh has experienced the drought condition. The Estimated yield loss in Andhra Pradesh was 40 lakhs of acres and some of the other regions information yet to be received. Andhra Pradesh government recently announced drought ridden mandals at about 450- 500 which were identified with 50- 60 percent crop losses.

As per official figures there was 60% deficit in North-East monsoon rains in Andhra Pradesh and the loss was 2000 crores of rupees to farmers. India’s 60% farming depends on rains and almost 40% food grains come from these areas only. If the monsoon fails, it’s going to be negative impact on national GDP through agriculture share, Inflation goes up and food prices will be volatile. We can’t blame the Mother Nature but we have Meteorological department to predict the rains, therefore the farmers may select the crops according to that. If the predictions go wrong the farmers will in trouble, that’s what happened in 2009. In 2009, The India Meteorological Department (IMD) was forecasted the monsoons as normal, few months later it revised the earlier predictions and announced that the rains would be a little lower than normal but actually there was terrible drought.

This year also same as 2009, IMD’s initial predictions were normal, second forecast was below normal but finally Andhra Pradesh has witnessed a drought and ultimately cost paid by the farmers is millions of rupees. Why the Met department is unable to give accurate predictions, what kind of technology they are using?....... I have no idea.
Seven years ago, when I first browse the weather website (http://www.weather.com/) to know the weather forecast in New Jersey… that’s so accurate. I admired and dreamt that one day our Indian Met department will give weather forecast as accurate as US Weather report. But still our Indian meteorological department is inefficient in accurate long term predictions.

Yes…. it’s too difficult to predict the weather in long range, but if the predictions are continuously wrong that means something wrong with the Met department technologies, It must update its technology to correct the failures. As India entered into a deal with USA on Nuclear technologies, why can’t the Ministry of Earth Science approach USA for weather related technologies for better predictions? I hope that the Met department will modernize the equipment to serve better since most of Indians are agriculture dependents. If they were informed accurately about the weather they can plan the crops and at lest they can mitigate their losses by cutting down the farm investments. 

To encounter the drought, our agriculture scientists should focus on developing the climate resistant crops which are helpful to reduce the risk and food prices instability.
Our governments have been experimenting cloud seeding and artificial rains but those are all nonsuccess models and very expensive. If any drought conditions exist, the governments need to have contingency plans like special budget allocations, subsidies and maintaining buffer stock of food grains to encounter it. However, we hope that IMD will give accurate weather forecasts and such forecasts will give guidelines to farmers to select and plan the crops according to anticipated weather conditions.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Direct cash transfer for farmer’s family welfare

We have been discussing various farmers’ issues from past few years i.e. remunerative price, simple interest loans and all kind of subsidies… no favorable progress in this direction. The conclusion what do farmers expect is a stable income to lead their quality life just the same as others in the society. Each and every profession has its own remuneration for their service and the same way all kind of products have their own market price, but farmers don’t have stable remuneration for their hard work or remunerative price for their produces. Government has been intervening in crop production and marketing issues but still no righteousness for farmers and still they are agitating for all kind of supports. Now the time is up… no more jokes (false promises), no more time killing committees, farmers need a constructive permanent policy with economical reforms which gives care to get out of the agriculture crisis.

I strongly feel that the direct cash payments to the farmers is the best alternative option to support them, government has been giving all kind of subsidies in the form of seeds, fertilizers and so on which are actually going to manufacturers not direct to the farmers. If the direct payment goes to the real farmers; they can use the money wisely creatively for not only on fertilizers or pesticides but also for other farming activities. The government should provide direct cash payments to the farmers to assist in labor wages for farm operations, every body knows that farm labor cost has increased due to expensive cost of living and they have got great bargain power with several social welfare schemes. It’s the best way to integrate the NREG schemes to agriculture. I am very glad about Mr. Nandan nilekani’s proposal on direct cash transfer model for fertilizer subsidies but the implementation methodologies shall be discussed.

Farmers need a fixed amount of crop based cash assistance when the crops don’t reap by natural calamities; direct cash is a security from drought, floods and rising diesel prices. As we know that small farmers and land less farmers can’t survive simply on agriculture, they used to do animal herding but still they are in low socio economic status. They need some fixed amount of cash for reasonable standard of living and away from the poverty. The government should examine the real incomes and living costs while recommending the direct cash assistance every year; the money should go to every agriculture family including share croppers. The direct cash payment program shall be designed to encourage women farmers, organic farming and sustainable agriculture.

In recent survey conducted by India's National Sample Survey Organization showed 40 percent of Indian farmers would like to quit agriculture. If it really happens, the government face huge burden to provide alternative livelihood for all of them and country unable to feed its own population. Nevertheless, what the farmers need is… a substantial income and economical security to restructure their farming activities. The practice of directly giving money to the poor is a popular one in developing countries which has given positive results; I hope the same will be implemented for our Indian poor farmers.

Monday, September 05, 2011

FDI in Retail industry

As per Indian Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP)that FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) is inevitable in multi brand retailing. India has been implementing 100% FDI in single brand(Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Mcdonald , KFC etc) retailing from past couple of years and trying to get the approval in cabinet for FDI in multi brand retailing (Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour, Metro) with 51% since we have accepted the economic reforms in G20 Canada summit. India is the fifth largest retail destination globally; it has been recognized as a lucrative market for foreign investors in the retail industry.

India is a great retail democratic country, we have plenty of neighborhood kirana stores, traditional, and unorganized retailers who are serving the nation from past several decades. The Indian retail market can be divided in to two categories i.e. Organized and Unorganized with market share of 5 % and 95% respectively, the total turnover is $395 billion and it is expected to grow up to $785 billion by 2015. India has been leaning towards organized retail system from past decade and it’s going to reach up to 20% by 2015. Large Indian companies are entering in to the retail business since there is lot of potential to grow i.e Birla More store, reliance fresh, Bharti Easy Day.

India is slowly emerging as a world class market with high value products; growing middle class incomes, urbanization and changes in consumer behavior which are ideal for super markets or hypermarkets. Our agriculture also need large investments to improve our infrastructure in terms of seed supply, agrichemicals, processing, machinery, storage facilities, rural transportation and value chain management. Experts and economists say that there is lot of prospective benefits to consumers and farmers by FDI in retail.

I believe that unrestricted FDI in multi brand retailing is going to affect badly on micro and small retailers. The multinational retailers are going to fill their aisles with international brands with competitive prices and the micro and small retailers are absolutely not in a position to compete with them. The biggest challenge is how to synchronize the harmony between organized and unorganized.

My recommendations on FDI- Retail

1. Indian retail sector contributes 15% to total GDP and providing 8% of total employment which is the biggest employer after agriculture, so the retail sector should be recognized as an Industry and need to be controlled by a separate ministry.

2. Any kind of corporate owned markets shouldn’t interfere in Public distribution system (PDS) because more than 50% of Indian households are depending on this welfare system and most of them are below poverty line.

3. Ministry of commerce and Industry should fix the limit on foreign Investing amount though they have 51% eligibility. If there is no cap on amount, it’s going be a huge threat to Indian retail companies.

4. The Ministry should initiate the kind of business model; i.e. FDI retailers should deal with all kind products like Fresh produces, dry foods and non food items uniformly in the startup itself. If they don’t consider fresh farm produces, I don’t thinks that they won’t set up the value chain for farm produces.

5. The FDI retail outlets should be allowed on socio economic and demographic factors. Geographical radius must be fixed to set up the stores to mitigate the competition among the local retailers and multinationals’.

6. Stringent policies are required for harmonious trade and to control the multinationals aggressive monopoly trade practices. The Government needs to promote the micro, small and medium local retailers and should take necessary steps to grow them.

7. The new jobs created by the multinational retail chains should be reserved for rural people and the FDI retailers should not destroy the existing unorganized retailers’ distribution setup.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mass starvation in Somalia



There is no food, no water, kids are dying and adults are tumbling, heart breaking pictures and heart wrenching incidents… this is the brief portrait of Somalia. I used to feel sad about Somalia where the place of pirates, private armies and poverty and now it’s experiencing severe famine. I will make known to you some pathetic famine incidents …

A mother walking, arrives at the clinic, takes her baby off her back and finds it has died without her knowing.

Her five children were with her, but the youngest ones - aged two years and five years - died on the way. She said she abandoned their bodies along the roadside because she was too weak to dig graves.

“We were hungry and couldn't get work. We traveled as a family but soon after we arrived my husband died, leaving me a widow and my children without a father. I just need help — anything."


The UN declared famine in Somalia and some other east African countries like Ethiopia and Kenya and it estimates that it’s going to effects millions of people. Nearly 400000 of people are leaving their homes, traveling to camps in search of food and water,some of them are crossing the borders to reach the survival camps which are located in Ethiopia and Kenya and still 80% of people are unable to access the humanitarian aid. The militant groups are blocking the aid organizations' food deliveries, so the survival aid camps are held at secured regions. thousands of people are being raped,killed by militant groups, bandits while journeying to refuge camps. The country is already lawless and now became chaotic due to famine, the aid food has been looted and sold in markets for profits. Humanitarian organizations are not willing to work directly in Somalia because some of their workers got killed by the clan war groups.

Basically Somalia is arid environment,year around severe hot conditions and irregular monsoons, agriculture is very limited and most of the lively hood is on nomadic herding.The problem with Somalia is the unstable government, militants groups which are keeping the country miserable, THE TRANSITIONAL FEDERAL GOVERNMENT(TFG) doesn't have total control over the country and some clan's militia groups like Al-Shabab are dominating in most of the region.

This drought is not the first time and it has been repeating for every few decades, I think 20 years ago Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya have experienced the same kind of famine but now they are not as bad as Somalia. Ethiopia and Kenya have some sufficient investment in agriculture and foreign food grants which were helped them from starvation, as we know that some Indian agriculture companies also invested in Ethiopia and Kenya. Adequate investment in agriculture is the long term solution for famine and better agriculture practices, capacity development, economic developments are path to peace and prosperity.

The United Nations has made an emergency appeal for $2.4 billion,United States has contributed $580 million so far and other African and gulf countries are helping. I have an Idea that India has been holding excess wheat/rice stocks above the Strategic reserves I.e around 70 million tons and upcoming crop season is going to add another 20 million tones. Especially in Wheat, India harvested bumper crop and the current stocks were two seasons old, the Government is not allowing exports since 2007 and wheat prices are not so attractive in international markets. So the best way is to give the old wheat stocks to UN aid for Somalia on humanitarian grounds instead of rotting in FCI warehouses. It's not only going to help to Somalia's starving but also for Indian farmers to get the support price for their upcoming harvest.

However....I wish all Somalians will have better living conditions, peace and democracy.


Pic courtesy: news.com.au

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A nexus between land and food

Prime minister Mr.Manmohan stated that we need second green revolution to feed our people despite the nation produced record level of 241 million tones of food grains in this year and he said that 2% of growth per annum is required to meet the food needs of growing population. Indeed, we should preserve our agriculture land for the same what prime minister said, ironically the Indian farm land has reduced by 0.43 percent to 182.39 million hectares in last five years and we know that the government has been forcibly acquiring the farm lands in the name of development. If India loss its cultivable land for non agriculture purpose… imagine how the 1.20 billions of people grapple for food, we already importing the pulses and oil seeds for our needs. A typical Indian family is spending 30-60 percent of their income for food alone; if we don’t conserve the farm lands then the food expenditure will be more for Indian house hold.

Recently Mr. Rahul Gandhi protested against NOIDA, Agra Highway farm lands acquisition, he said that he is going to introduce the revised land acquisition act in parliament which is going to favor for farmers. Personally I welcome his substantial statement. He should visit more villages, meet more farmers to get more knowledge on farmers’ perils. The policy makers’ talks a lot about farmers’ issues in accordance to the situation and events… but we know the UPA 2 government’s economic model i.e. fast industrialization….the people income levels will be increased, eventually the living standards and purchase power will be more. Yes of course, being a progressive thinker, I too support industrialization but agriculture is important too. The thing is who is going to cultivate the land and where is the land to cultivate if the cultivable land is being transformed to industrial purpose?? A recent study says that a typical Indian family is spending 30-60 percent of their income for food alone, if we don’t conserve the fertile farm lands, definitely the food is going to be very expensive for Indian house hold.

As we know that governments are forcible acquiring thousands of acres of land for industries in the name of development i.e. in Noida & Agra in Utter Pradesh, Ambala in Haryana, Mansa in Punjab, Singur in West Bengal , Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Mangalore & Sullia in Karnataka, and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. When the governments are trying to convert the fertile lands to non agriculture usage, they should have a responsibility to develop or conserve the fertile lands elsewhere as part of replacement which is not happening, where as in USA… being a largest agriculture land holder; it’s still spending millions of dollars to conserve the cultivable land. Being a developing a nation and having a large population, we need to develop and secure the farm lands.

The proposed land acquisition bill must be included with not only the resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced public but also the developing and securing the agriculture lands and environmental resettlement. The existing National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy is not giving full fledged support the affected people, it’s failed to restore the lives of dislocated people and they are not receiving the decent, sufficient compensation for their lands, farmers voices have stifled and the governments are using police power to restrain their demands, for that’s the reason only the rural India become violent. The practical studies are not conducted in scientific manner, the government officials are corrupted and the reports are being prepared in favor of construction / power companies. When ever the superior courts intervened then only the feasibility studies are conducting in democratic and scientific manner. (Ex. Court intervention is Sompet -Andhra Pradesh wetlands issue).

I hope the future Land acquisition bill would be beneficial to displaced farmers, let us see how Mr. Rahul Gandhi stands on his promise.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

AP farmers want to take a brake

We used to see several ways of mass protests; the employees pen down, workers general strike, business men shutdowns, and factory lockouts so on... Sometimes farmers also organize protests on their issues like lack of farm inputs and better price for their produces, but this time Andhra Pradesh farmers want to protest by stopping the cultivation and they want to take crop holiday. This is not according to their wish or whim, the market conditions and the government impudence drag them to take such disgraceful decision.

Crop holiday is not new to Andhra Pradesh, in the year of 2000-2001 tobacco crop season, the Tobacco board also taken the same decision to clear the accumulated inventory. Indeed, the tobacco crop is commercial one and it doesn’t impact on farmers since they shifted to other commercial crops and a few farmers only depend on the tobacco crop. But paddy is a food crop and widely grown by large number of farmers; despite they want to go for crop holiday because of the distressed conditions by market price crash, heavy input and manpower costs and accumulated inventories at FCI warehouses. It seems to be no choice for farmers to overcome the crisis except the crop holiday

India has been lacking with agriculture infrastructure facilities, our food corporation storage houses are bulging with grain stocks of 65.6 million tonnes which the actual storage capacity is 62.8 million tonnes and there is no space for upcoming Khariff crops harvested by September and October. We have lots of grain going rot due to non availability of storage facilities and there is no progress in the issues even after Supreme Court intervened. UPA Government is still in dilemma to take decision on export of excess food grains since they want to support the prestigious National food security bill.

The government agencies are not procuring properly because they don’t have enough storage facilities and some millers are exploiting the farmers and take chance by not paying the prevailing prices since the farmers are in rush to pay their bills and they want to get rid of their debts. The farmers need to have a permanent solution on minimum support price, every time the government announces the price and the millers are not implementing the same. The Food Corporation of India and Civil supplies departments should introduce different kinds of procurement procedures instead of millers’ pride, i.e. promoting IKPs (Indira Kranthi patham) or any self help groups for grain procurements, Inviting private organization for grain collection, storage and necessary terms have to be initiated to control the millers.

Market efficiency depends on marketing infrastructure, there is a massive investment required in storage and processing of agriculture produces, the government has to encourage Public Private Partnership model in grain procuring and storage. We need to apply scientific applications in grain storage to reduce the rotting and wastage and we need to construct innovative storage facilities rather than conventional. I welcome the Andhra Pradesh farmers’ move for taking brake on paddy cultivation; technically it will balance the demand and supply position and it’s a kind of warning to government to fix the farmers’ demands. Let us see how the government respond and negotiate with farmers because the profound Food security bill is on the way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Direct cash transfer is a safety net for poverty

The media and politicians were lampooned on direct cash transfer scheme which was incorporated in Telugudesam party’s manifesto in 2009 assembly elections and political rivals make this scheme as controversial and named Mr. Chandra babu Naidu as ALL FREE BABU. Honestly speaking, I too failed to understand the scheme that direct cash transfer to the poor make the poor become lazy and refuse to work if they get cash for doing nothing. I realized my thoughts were short and the small amount make a lot of difference in their economic lives.

Indeed this is an innovative social policy, it has been in practice from past six years in South American and African countries and some international aid organizations also implementing the same. Providing welfare and social security is the state’s responsibility and the governments have to design the development paradigms to poor people. Economic reforms and liberalization policies are serving their part to eradicate poverty but the change takes lot of time, in the meanwhile welfare schemes are necessary to reduce the pressure on poor and the National rural employment guarantee scheme is the best example for such kind of schemes.

Direct cash transfer to poor households is not like a donation or aid or sanctity or the government is not going to throw the money at crossroads or money is not distributed as handbills. It’s a kind of social security program, identifying the social class and pick the responsible person in the family (mostly homemakers) and transferring the money through banks in certain intervals. It’s a kind of investment to the poor people to support themselves, end to poverty. They can buy good protein based food, can buy medicines, they can send their children to school, they may invest and generate income and small farmers can buy fertilizers or seeds and so on…

In developed countries most of the people are working class, employers or government will deduct the some portion of the amount in their earning and the same will be distributed as social grant. But in developing countries most of the people are working in unorganized sectors and agriculture, they are poor and middle class people, eventually they don’t have choice to get the social grants from their earnings. So governments have responsibility to allocate some money for the welfare of economically poor sections.

According the millennium development goals, reasonable standard of living is became a basic human right and the governments have been working on that direction through reforms or welfare schemes. In developing countries like India, it’s too burden to implement social security grants but eliminating the poverty is our priority. Spending on health, education, infrastructure is important but people need money to access those facilities, so there is a need of social grants for poor.

Poor people are also partial responsible for their own poverty, they should to come out from their dearth and need to improve their standard of living. Ofcourse the welfare schemes are inevitable to reduce the poverty and direct cash transfer is the best among them. I don’t think the little money don’t make the poor people lazy and reluctant to work, everybody has desire to well being and respected, they know how to manage this little money wisely and creatively. Thus, direct money transfer is better for poor, it will help the poor to keep away from their poverty and to lead a gentle life.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

www.farmersindia.com


I have a dream that one day our Indian farmer hook up the computer and directly market their products on internet. In pursuit of that objective, I developed a free agriculture classifieds portal (http://www.farmersindia.com/) for everyone who ever associated with agriculture. Please look into that and I appreciate your valuable suggestions.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

RURAL INDIA_ FOR SALE @ INDIA.CO.IN

Our economists are stating that India is vibrant and it’s going to be one of the super powers by 2025, I am confused… what kind of super power it’s going to be, is it in software, defense power, Industrial development or agriculture? Being an agriculture enthusiast, my hopes and horizons are diminishing due to violent economic reforms. While the governments are grabbing all the farm lands in the name of Economic reforms, how can we expect the India as super power in agriculture? When all the farm lands are diverting to non agriculture usages like Industrial corridors, Special economic zones, It industries, Airports, Power plants and sea ports, how can we ensure the India’s food security?

Now the rural India turned violent during the protests over the forcible acquisition of farm lands i.e. in Noida & Agra in Utter Pradesh, Ambala in Haryana, Mansa in Punjab, Singur in West Bengal , Jaitapur in Maharashtra, Mangalore & Sullia in Karnataka, and Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh. Thousands of acres of land being forcibly transferred to industries in the name of development by devastating the fertile lands and the government is promising that it will provide the employment to the displaced farmers as resettlement. I have a big question that what kind of employment positions will be given to the farmers in SEZs, Industries and power plants? Most of our Indian farmers are qualified with mediocre education and they are not technocrats, so…. imagine that these refugee farmers should work as porters, gardeners, scavengers or peons. Nevertheless, why should farmers dispense their hard earned or ancestral profitable fertile lands and why should they work for some others in their own lands?

The governments are saying that massive industrialization will improve the quality of life, I strongly agree with the same, provided that shouldn’t be harmful to other occupations. But this is a forced migration from agriculture, farmers are already self sufficient, they are creating rural employment, feeding the country and they are contributing to GDP. Why should leave their lands and change the profession... I don’t know what kind of economics these are? There are some critics in compensations of resettlements which are not transparent not reasonable to the farmers and the policy makers are favoring to the Industrialists for their personal gains by allotting the thousands of acres of farm lands. Some state governments are forcible acquiring the lands by lesser rates and reselling the same lands to Industrialists for better price. Sometimes these lands are sold and resold for higher prices changing hands to real-estate companies. It seems to be that the Governments are operating like REAL ESTATE COMPANIES and the Chief Ministers are functioning as a PROPERTY DEALERS for Industrialist by SELLING the RURAL INDIA.

Before independence most of lands were acquired by few land lords (Zamindars), after that the Government initiated land reforms and lands were distributed among landless farmers. Now the history is repeating and the lands are going to few industrialists in the name of vicious economic development. Now the farmers are very vigilant, they don’t want to loose their fertile lands and don’t want to become beggars by filthy economic policies and politicians. They are strongly protesting against forcible acquisitions and the audacious governments are using police force to restrain them which eventually turned to violence and the farm fields are becoming battle fields in all over the places in India i.e. Noida or singur or Srikakulam.

As Indian population grows, crop production need to be increased to feed them, the World Bank estimates that 1 hectare of land will need to feed 5 people in 2025 and ironically the Indian farm land has reduced by 0.43 percent to 182.39 million hectares in last five years. Indian agriculture also provides opportunities for growth, jobs and significant contribution to GDP. I strongly support the industrial development which leads to progress but protecting agriculture is important too. Governments should restrict the usage of farm land for Industrial purpose and if necessary, the land owners must be allowed as partners in the upcoming projects by allotting share or some stable income. However, we need mutually beneficial economic policies which can ensure the agriculture and industrial growth then only the agriculture and Industrialization can flourish evenly.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sci-Tech farming

















Being the highest agriculture dependent country, Indian agriculture needs to adopt automation, science and technologies for better yields, those would be hand tools, farm equipment, heavy earth equipment or modern scientific technologies which need to help the farming process more efficiently. In olden days, the generic farm equipments are including Diesel engine, electric motors, Power sprayers and tractors apart from traditional equipments. The agriculture has been transforming with modern science technologies from past two decades which are helping to increase the farm productivity and reducing the human drudgery, but still lot of technologies are in research and development stage, if those are available in the market then the agriculture practices will be flexible and robust. Now the modern trend in agriculture is Information technology Satellite technology, Nano technology and Robotics.

I have some imaginative technology concepts in agriculture those might be in research or in experiments stage. Our farm equipment companies and researchers have developed a lot of small and heavy farm equipment for traditional farming needs but some kind of robotic and pneumatic mechanism are required in precision farming. If the robots are being used for weed control, that will help to reduce the herbicides usage and the produces will turn into an organic, the same way robots can be used for transplanting the seedlings to avoid intensive labor. Pneumatic technology is useful for sowing the seeds that can plant the seeds very precisely in a calculated depth according to crop variant and the pneumatic technology should be a major technology in farm equipment as hydraulics, so it requires lot of research and development.

We used to read in newspapers on few impressive innovative technologies by rural inventors i.e. electric motors can be operated remotely by cell phones, it’s very helpful to farmers in summer time since the power supply is irregular. If we think advanced intelligent machines in farming, Sensors or readers and hand held PDAs are going to be great helpful in computation and accuracy in farming. The sensors or readers can be used for measuring the fertility in the soil, so that the fertilizer input can be regulated according to the level of need, same way the potency of the pesticides on the crop. Consequently these technologies will help farmer to minimize the chemical application which leads to help in environment and economic perspectives.

An Ariel remote sensing technology also plays a major role to identify the soil properties, I wish the farmers could have the GPS kind of hand held device which is connected to satellite and render the information on soil texture, soil moisture, water resources and so on. Nano technology contribution will be more in future agriculture and food production, the Nano sensors in the field are enable the application of pesticides, intake of nutrients and water by identifying the crop pathogens and soil ingredients. Nano technology application are being used in food storage and packaging to avoid spoilage and future food products will be enhanced with color, flavor and nutrients. In developed countries, many kinds of software packages are available to track the crop harvest, fertilizers usage, planting, tillage, Inventory, expenses and so on, I wish… One day our Indian farmers may have that software and manage their farms.

I hope all these technologies will promote sustainable agriculture, food security, health and safe environment, the government must encourage private partnership to identify the new technologies in agriculture and training should be provided to the farmers.we must have an open discussion that is informed by a clear understanding of how these products are being developed and how it will be healthy and safety to the people. However, we should appreciate all the efforts of agricultural scientists and researchers for sustainability of agriculture, food security and will see how they can, should, and will do for long-term solutions.

Pic courtesy: netafimusa.com

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Women in Indian agriculture


We know that most of the developing countries depend on agriculture for livelihood and food security. Agriculture needs manpower, if the manpower split into gender wise, amazing fact is that the women contribution is greater or equal to men. The rural women are very active in cultivation, dairy, fisheries, crop processing and other allied areas. Nearly 70% of Indian rural women are employed in agriculture and they are responsible for 60-80 percent of food production. They play major role in animal husbandry, horticulture and poultry which are their main source of income and it is noticed that they always involved in labor and tolerance intensive works like transplantations and weeding operations.

Among the rural women workforce, most of them are agriculture labor and some of cultivators. There are lot of variations in involvement of women in agriculture which is based on their culture, economic status, regions and crop selection. While the men are moving to cities for better occupations the women are taking care of cultivation and some times they used to work as farm labor to support their family needs. The weaker section of the women used to market their produces such as selling vegetables and other food crops in farmers market or door to door. Most of the women cultivators are involved in food crops rather than cash crops since cash crops need more marketing efforts which are traditionally taken care by men. The women in higher socio economic sections are not involved directly in cultivation or live stock and they used to help in labor administration, supporting activities and accounting.

Ironically, we often define the men as farmers, in fact the women also equally involved in agriculture in all phases. If we think beyond the conventional definition of “FARMER”, most of the rural women should be considered as farmers but they are ignored. Still Indian society has some gender boundaries, but the rural women involve in multiple productive roles and it is necessary to give equal opportunity in agriculture. Most of the women farmers are marginal or small farmers, landless tenant farmers and farm labor, they don’t have enough land to cultivate, less knowledge, limited access to innovative technologies, low capital and less credit facilities.

In order to empower and improve the women farmers’ productivity, they need to have proper farm training and capacity building programs to compete various challenges in their rural livelihood. Women land ownership plays a major role in their credit worthiness, if they have right on the agriculture land they will have access to financial resources and savings. New legislations have to be taken place in farm land reforms like allocating the wasteland to women self help groups (SHG). Rural women have been acknowledged as the core food producers and processors, banks should recognize them as entrepreneurs, loans and Kissan credit cards have to be approved for them. Special support and market connectivity has to establish for rural women artisans to sell their agro based handicrafts. The farm labor wages should be the same without gender differences and the equal employment benefits have to be given in all rural schemes like NREG. Sufficient political representation must be required by rural women in local level councils, it directs them as an equal partners in political, economical and legal decision making.

We must appreciate Government of India for implementing various rural women welfare schemes and also the NGOs who are working on women empowerment for poverty alleviation. I want to say kudos to Deccan Development Society because they are promoting the small scale women farmers in various aspects like cultivation, seed management, biodiversity conservation, marketing knowledge and media. Click for DDC Videos
Pic Courtesy: guardian.co.uk

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Manpower trend in agriculture

Agriculture is a labor intensive production process, it depends on huge manpower and draft animal power. Nearly 55% of Indian labor force is engaged in agriculture who are contributing to the development of rural economy. Over the past couple of decades the farm labor has been decreasing in agriculture which was caused by occupational change, people mindset, government policies and reforms. As the share of agriculture to GDP has been declining the agriculture work force is also moving to non agriculture sectors.

The Labor scarcity is the biggest threat to Indian agriculture due to urbanized life style, low farm wages, irregular employment in villages and laborious nature of work. Lot of unemployed rural youth moving to other well-paid occupations since farming is a physical drudgery, also the farm work has prejudiced as low profile profession. So the traditional farmers are forced to discard the food crops due to non availability and high wages of farm workers, farmers are switching to less labor intensive farming like short term commercial crops and social forestry plantations.

The intention of rural employment schemes are good, they have been creating employment to rural work force with prevailing wages. But the small and marginal farmers are incapable to pay such a bargain wages which are equal to government schemes, sometimes the availability of the farm labor is less in the crop season since all of the rural work force have engaged in the scheme works.

I am not going to blame the NREG and Food for work programs for diverting the rural labor to public works or non farm work, but the works schedules should be planned according to village priorities. The rural employment schemes should be halted whenever the work force is required for agriculture needs, especially in Kharif and Rabi seasons, Grama panchayath intervention must be required to synchronize the rural labor force.

Farm equipment is also necessary to overcome the labor shortage problem. Large scale farmers are able to adopt the new technologies and equipments since they have large crop area and strong financial power, but the small and marginal farmers are still depend on manpower. The farm equipment manufacturers should produce small scale farm machines, technology awareness has to be created among the farmers. The banks have to give the long term loans to farmers to buy farm equipment and the government should promote the innovative farm equipment, subsidies should be granted to the farmers on such equipments.

Some people often think that the farm labor is dirt cheap, now it’s very expensive. May be in near future the Indian farm labor is also going to be organized by companies like how the security professionals or industrial labor supplied on contract basis in cities. In Americas and Europe, lot of agencies are offering farm services like planting, chemical spraying, harvesting and haying with modern equipment. We never know... it could happen in India also.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Japan battles food crisis

The Japan’s socio-economic structure was destroyed by the earthquake, tsunami and the nuke disaster. The thousands of people were died, millions of hearts were broken, dreams shattered, their lives distressed and still they are fighting with earthquakes and nuclear catastrophe. The terrible disaster brought horrific changes in people lives, they are moving miles together from their homes to shelters to defend from profound nuclear debacle. In the viewpoint of food, Japan is not self sufficient and 60% of its food requirements are fulfilled by the imports even though it has some domestic agriculture production. Now the country is in deep crisis in agriculture and food security by tsunami and ongoing nuclear catastrophe.

Rice is also an important food staple for Japanese and the most rice growing crop land (Miyagi prefecture) was destroyed by the tsunami. The Sendai region is suffering with extensive destruction of grain warehouses, fishing ports, food processing and livestock facilities. The second problem is ongoing nuclear radiation leakage in Fukushima nuclear plant (Fukushima prefecture), the nuclear plant radiation exposure may damage to humans, soil, land, agriculture, forests, fisheries and livestock. The government halted the sale of all foods from the farms near ruined nuclear plant since they found high level of radiation in milk and spinach. Some of the major ports were closed due to disaster that is also caused to disruption of food supplies and delays in shipments.

Japan’s food security is in critical point, Japan is one of the biggest food importers and it buys lot of wheat, corn and pork from USA, China and Australia. Japan may want to import more food to meet their demand since its own agriculture facilities are in turmoil and that could have a significant impact on worldwide grain prices. Indeed, the Japan shouldn’t face any food crisis, all nations should stand united and they need to take a global action on emerging food crisis in Japan. Some of the countries extended ban on grain exports to protect their population against the food shortages, but they should be generous and flexible towards crisis in Japan.

As per data 2009, 4 percent of the people in Japan are engaged in agriculture and the farm contribution is only 1 percent of their GDP. Japan should focus on self sufficient in food grains and huge investments must be required in agriculture and live stock production to prevent food vulnerability. I hope all developed nation and organizations will respond immediately with all kind of necessities and technical assistance to reinstate the Japan.We wish that Japan will be normal and emerge stronger than before.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tobacco crop is injurious to AP farmers wealth


Tobacco is one of the best cash crops in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the Tobacco crop is less perishable and the yield and value is high per acre. The Tobacco auction system is one of the best among the agriculture produces markets in India. The sale is guaranteed, the price is negotiated and determined among the traders and farmers in supervision of Tobacco board. Every year the Tobacco board fixes the crop size to protect the interests of traders, growers and public health.

Normally Tobacco board arranges the convention with growers and traders to discuss the market related issues before the market opens. In this year meeting, the farmers demanded their remunerative price shouldn’t be less than Rs.150.00 per kg for higher variety. As per my understanding… this year tobacco crop quality is good, the yields also lesser than the fixed crop size and the traders have enough quantity of export orders, so the farmers have justified reason to ask for remunerative price of Rs.150.00. The markets were opened on Feb24th and the traders bid their price not more than Rs.120 per kg for higher grades. The farmers were stopped the auction and they have protested for better price since the plantation and processing expenses have gone up by 20% in this year.

Recently the Tobacco Board reopened the auction centers by the force of traders to continue the market with the same low price. Farmers are in misery and they are inescapable condition to sell their crop with the lower rate of Rs.120 per kg. The traders turn into a syndicate and they want to maximize their profits by convincing with fake reasons that the global tobacco yields are high and the buffer stock are still on hold (as usually... they are misguiding the farmers). Tobacco board is showing over enthusiasm to protect the traders by ignoring the farmers’ interests and also the Board has failed to negotiate the trader for getting better price to farmers.

Government of India needs to take necessary steps to help the tobacco farmers in this crisis situation since GOI is getting lot of revenue from local tobacco markets and foreign exchange from exports. The Government has to finance the State Trading Corporation of India or any Tobacco growers’ societies to help the farmers for better price. I strongly support the FDIs in tobacco trade because the farmers will get fair price in the competition of increased traders and manufacturers. If the Government doesn’t curb the traders’ deceitful practices, then the farming tobacco crop is injurious farmers’ wealth.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Markets go online


Andhra Pradesh made a congressional acceptance for E-Trading on Agricultural and livestock produces by amending the Agriculture produce market committee act (APMC). This is a good trend, to integrate the farmers to electronic markets with transparency in prevailing prices. The E- Trading has been implementing in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhyapradesh, Utter Pradesh and Tamil nadu markets. Some of the big horticulture markets like Azadpur mandi in New Delhi and Apple markets in Himachal Pradesh also have been in online trading since several years. Most of the state governments have APMC act to regulate the agriculture produce markets in terms of transparency in transactions, coordinate the demand and supplies and encourage the farmers to produce more. In India, we have 7557 regulated markets consist of 2428 principal markets and 5129 sub yards.

Reforms in agriculture marketing are inevitable process for restructuring the agriculture sector, it’s necessary to upgrade our marketing systems and infrastructure to connect with nationwide markets in the liberalization of our trade policies. Setting up an electronic network among the physical markets is certainly improves the linkage between farmers, food processors and retailers and that can mitigate the mediators’ involvement. Some of the corporate companies have taken the initiative to create the market awareness in farmers i.e. ITC limited has been working with e-choupal Kiosks over 40,000 villages which give the information on weather, modern farm practices and market information. Multi Commodity of Exchange India ltd (MCX) has started the Gramin Suvidha Kendra (GSK) kiosks in 3 northern states which provide the information on warehousing, quality testing, expert advices and MCX spot and futures prices of agriculture produces.

The E-trading system shares the nationwide commodity exchange information to the farmers, so that they can sell their produces according to their choice of market/price and the buyers also can choose the products from different markets with specified quality /quantity. In the E-trading, the regulated markets are connected with National APMC and the trading operations are conducted by the APMC’s licensed traders. Ticker boards would be placed at APMCs which display the current prices of different commodities in different markets and the farmers can select their choices. Some of the markets are supported by the bankers’ online banking facility to manage the trading among the buyers and farmers. The National APMC has to take the trade approval from respective state government on selective commodities. So far, the trading in existing APMCs is on spot basis only and in future the markets may go on forwards trading.

Government needs to give importance to both the farmers and industry equally, when ever the market infrastructure improves then the market efficiency gets progress. If the trading system goes on pace….the storage, transport and processing facilities have to be in the supporting standards but our markets are lacking with modern agri-infrastructure. There is a massive investment expected in the post harvest facilities, the government has to encourage Public Private Partnership model in agriculture marketing and extension activities. Nevertheless, E- Trading is an impressive reform in agriculture markets in Andhra Pradesh but the main drawback of Indian farmers is that they are qualified with mediocre education. I hope, one day the Indian farmer hookup the computer and market his produces directly on internet.
FYI: Agricultural Marketing Information Network  & National Agriculture Produce market Committee
Please do comment :YashwanthX@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Profitable Proposition

Yetiketham batti yei putlu pandinchi yennadu metukerugadanna- cherabanda raju
(He grapples to pull the bucketful of water from lake and harvested bountiful crop with immense strive but he never had even one grain)
I used to memorize the above poetry when I think about the farmers’ income. National sample survey speaks about the farmers monthly income was an average of Rs.2115 in 2003 but positively it could be Rs.2700.00 in 2011. We have been in the regimes of lot of parties from past 60 years, too many budgets and many 5 years plans, no improvement in farmers’ income level except green revolution which was aimed for national self sufficient in food grains. Every government has been chanting that they want to make farmers as kings and the UPA government aimed the growth of 4% in agriculture and proclaiming that the policies and budgets are in the same direction. In fact, are these policies really going to help the 600 millions of Indian farmers from their agrarian crisis? However, the key point is how to maximize the farmers’ income and make the agriculture as a profitable proposition.

The increased cost of cultivation dragged the farmers into distress and the farmers are not getting remunerative price for their produces. The Swami nathan committee recommended the Minimum Support Price should be the cost of production plus 50% profit, but presently the cost of production perpetually increasing in terms of inputs, farm labor wages and land rent. If the farmer receives 60%-70% of the share which the price paid by the consumer, it really helps the farmers get out of their burdens. The government needs to try on some selected produces for remunerative prices which are a percentage on the prevailing market prices paid by the consumer.

The agriculture Insurance Scheme is still in experimental phase since 1985 and that has been connected with crop loans by banks since the banks want to be safe against their loans (Insurance companies are protecting bankers interest not farmers). The small and tenant farmers have limited access to the banks and most of the farmers don’t have awareness on crop insurance schemes. The Insurance company agents and agriculture extension officers have to make the farmers known about the insurance policies and have to form the units with group of farmers. The crop insurance schemes are covering the pre harvest crop only and we have been talking about the 40% loss of post harvest, does it make sense to insure the post harvest? Of course the modalities have to be defined….

According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the farmers’ suicides were reported 16196 and 17000 in 2008 and 2009 respectively despite the government waived off the crop loans. It clearly explains that most of the farmers were not beneficiaries of the loan right off scheme since they borrowed the money from private money lenders because they don’t have access to bank credit facility. The government or Reserve bank has to formulate the strict guidelines to the commercial banks on extending credit facilities to the small and marginal farmers with low interest rates. In fact some commercial banks are extending the low interest loans to agribusiness people in the veil of agriculture sector and these things should be curbed. Government and local bodies have to make the special provisions to the tenant farmers to avail the loans from the banks. Asper National Commission on Farmers recommendations, 4% of the interest rate on crop loans would be suggestible and helpful to small and marginal farmers.

According to National Sample Survey Organization, more than 45percent of farmers would like quit farming. There is a need of direct income support to farmers as fixed monthly income, at least to some small farmers based on their land holding. The subsidies whatever the government has been giving to farmers are very low which compared to the incentives for corporate houses. In the last budget the Government written off Rs.500, 000 crores of tax amounts for corporates and the government named the budget as Pro- Farmer budget.  Government is spending lot of amount on fertilizers subsidies which the total amount goes to the industry not to the farmers. Giving direct subsidy to the farmers is best alternative since the farmers will get the real benefit, fair distribution of subsidies and it stops the illegal trading.

Agriculture is a life science, modern technologies are indispensable for better farming. Using mechanical engeenering, Information technology and Bio technology are required for agronomic and social growth. Biological solutions are necessary to replace the chemical applications in agriculture and safeguard the soil ecology. Organic farming is going to be vital in future agriculture and government has to promote the Organic farming among the small farmers. Public Private Partnership is required to promote agro-processing, agro-industries which can prevent the post harvest losses, Value addition to produces and farmers will get remunerative prices.

India has lot of young people who are looking for employment and if everybody prefers IT or White collar jobs then who are going to feed us. We need large number of people to choose the modern agriculture as their profession, the government has to promote the youth in farming and agriculture allied services to ensure that can provide a decent income. Farmers and farm laborers are working very hard to produce food for us and enriching our economy, it’s our responsibility to make sure their lives should be cherished with good quality. I have a dream that one day the agriculture will recapture its fortune as mainstream of the economy and I hope it would be a profitable proposition.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Not only Onions, serious food crises is on its way






















The soaring Onion prices have severely effected on monthly budget of Indian consumers. Onions and Potatoes are mainstays in Indian diet, the cost of Onions increased by more than 60% in the past year. Not only onions, the prices of Milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables are also gone up, Indian food staples prices have raised by 18% in December 2010.This is the highest level in recent years, it reflects that the Indian poor class people are spending 50% of their household income on food only. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization stated that global prices have exceeded the levels of during the 2007-08 crises. Sugar, Corn, Soya bean and edible oils prices have risen by 50% since 2009. This adversity is caused by crop failures, broken distribution system and so many reasons.

The demand for the food has been increasing by world’s growing population. Primarily the extreme weather conditions and climate changes have caused to crops failures. Some other factors also pushing the food prices high i.e. growing demand from developing countries, increasing the usage of food crops (sugarcane, Corn) for ethanol fuel, raise in fuel prices and some times the US dollar value fluctuations also impact on food grain prices since the most of the commodities are denominated in dollar currency only. The agriculture commodities future trading also drives the food prices up, the non traditional investors are pumping their money to making profits which leads to further food inflation. Increased fuel prices lead to higher cost in food transportation and high input cost in agriculture like fertilizers, pesticides. Agriculture lands are being lost due to severe degradation, urbanization and industrialization that effects less crop production and price hikes.

If we focus on world food grains, Russian wheat crop was devastated by drought and wild fire, Pakistan crops were failed due to heavy floods and India lost its paddy and other food crops by excessive rains. The price of wheat has reached highest in United Kingdom and Europe, drought in Argentina and Brazil caused less yields in corn and soya bean. Presently in Australia, the disastrous floods are affecting badly on wheat, Sugar and vegetable harvests. Food riots were witnessed in Mozambique, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Haiti and Egypt due to price hikes of basic food commodities. When the world is facing such a stressful food crisis and I wonder about our Indian food grains distribution system, more than 320 millions of Indians are going bed hungry everyday and ironically the food grains are rotting away in storages. Some parts of the world are wasting the food and some parts are starving, some people in developed countries are clinically obese and the people in under development countries are malnourished.

The global food turmoil may put pressure on Indian food market. Indian government has taken immediate steps to manage the onion crisis, such as banning the export, importing onions from abroad and the government announced Rs.10.00 subsidy to traders on each kg of onions. Temporarily, this might be good but the government has to take stable measures to control the food inflation. Most of the Indian food chain system is under control of small traders and middlemen, the government should take necessary steps to avoid the traders’ speculation for effective distribution with fair price. Food security is the fundamental welfare of the state, government has to provide the basic food at reasonable price. The proposed food security bill is still pending, I hope it will get approved soon and the poor will get the food grains cheap and easily.