April 27, 2011 8:30:50 AM
Prescience or perceptual percipience of pathetic predicament of the peasantry could have propelled the authority to pull them out from the pernicious penury. Preposterous perception and perfunctory implementation of policies couldn’t read the presage writ large for the pro-rata increase in woes of the peasants. The perplexing prattles and prophesies without delving deep into the cause of precarious position of peasantry have made our pithy postulates look helpless.
The resultant paradoxical position is that while we profess for progress and present a picture of advanced agriculture and improved socio-economic conditions of the farmers, but at the same time we are facing the prang as the field realities have not been properly perceived. As such, the agriculture sector with a majority of small and marginal farmers has borne the burnt, and wilting under the pressure from global competitors, burden of bank borrowing and unfavourable climatic conditions. Lastly, the poor peasant has to fight against the onslaught on agricultural lands by the propertied estate developers for perpetration of the concrete juggles on agricultural lands.
Presumptions, however accurate they may be, cannot predicate a pragmatic procedural solution. The causes of the resultant precipitation of present predicament of the peasantry are to be found out first. Over dependence on monsoon, lack of irrigation facilities, heavy burden of debt, escalation of prices of pesticides and fertilisers, competition from global market as a result of globalisation, excessive dependence on paddy cultivation and negligible production of alternative crops and the lack of backward and forward linkages sometimes resulting in sale of the produce in a low rate have prompted the peasantry to proliferate the propensity of despair.
Each point mentioned in the preceding paragraph if analysed and explained would be as lengthy as research paper. But for brevity, the prominent yet perturbing cause which should be pummelled first is the overdependence of agriculture sector and the vagaries of monsoon. Whereas in case of Punjab above ninety-five per cent of cultivable land is irrigated, in Odisha the total area under any kind of assured irrigation system is very less. That leaves the peasantry under the claws of perpetual uncertainties. The need of the hour is creation of irrigation potential through various practical ways, starting from euphemistic proposal of joining major rivers to creation of small water reservoirs with canalisation of water potential and every effort in this regard would be laudable. Even the not so successful concept of lift irrigation in our State maybe given a second thought because there is no alternative to this method in dry areas and this method has taken Punjab to the pinnacle of success in agriculture sector. The other problems besetting the farmers are heavy debt burden, the escalating cost of fertilizers and pesticides and non-availability at the proper moment and supply of quality seeds for cultivation of the crops in time. These prominent points need no further explanation but need a serious consideration by the secretary agriculture department to profess support to apparently shaken peasantry in a paradigm shift of approach.
The scope and profitability of alternate and multiple cropping should be explained to farmers even through demonstration in the fields of rich peasants in their locality. The apprehension associated with these cropping methods in the mind of cultivators regarding marketability of these produces should be allayed. The concept of backward and forward linkages or in a plain way leaving these high sounding jargons, the marketing support and the concept of support price should be extended to primary cultivators. Though the authorities declare support prices for the major crops but the important thing is that the benefit should reach the cultivators. Without marketing support, development of growth centers, krushak bazaars the poverty-stricken peasantry would find it difficult to come out from the present position and without the supports poor peasants should not be exposed to experimentations with regard to alternate and rotational cropping methods, etc.
The present situations emerging out of globalisation are not very conducive for Indian farmers and especially the farmers of Odisha and have set the precognition of a situation of global competition even in food products, and, therefore, preparation to save and equip the farmers to face the unavoidable situations should become the prime most thing in the agenda of the Secretary of the Agriculture Department. The fragile financial condition of the farmers for varied reasons portrayed in the previous paragraphs cannot sustain the jolt because of this economic imbroglio precipitated by globalisation and global competitions. A firm support in various fronts should be provided to this community to prepare, face and survive and succeed even in the global competitive arena. Even we can also strengthen and develop the agricultural produce export policy to pronounce our arrival in global scene.
At the macro level, the Indian agricultural sector and at the medium and micro level, Odisha’s agriculture sector need a little pampering and pat from the authority as agriculture is still our mainstay. Do we need a second green revolution after about four decades?
— The writer is a senior IAS officer