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.