From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Nothing Much
Mains level : These hard times are asking for innovative ways to secure farmers livelihoods.
After half a century, India is under a major locust attack from breeding grounds in Balochistan, Pakistan. Other international tidings are also not favourable for Indian farmers. In 2014, crude prices had hit rock bottom and the government received a bonanza of a few lakh crore. Circumstances have changed today: India’s finances are in a perilous state and we face the spectre of a drought.
1.US-China trade dispute – The escalation of the US-China trade dispute is pushing the world towards a prolonged economic stagnation.
2.Crude prices – President Donald Trump is also engineering a conflict in the strait of Hormuz to jack up crude prices.
3.Pressure on India to import US agriculture commodities – In the aftermath of the imposition of duties on US agriculture produce by China, there are fears that the US government will pressure India to import US agriculture commodities like livestock feed, chicken and milk products — and, the country will succumb to such pressure.
4.Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – On the eastern front, the commerce ministry is all prepared to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which will commit the country to become a gateway for Asian agriculture imports. We are also being sucked into a similar treaty with the EU.
5.Climate change and GDP-led policy – But now all these combine with a system that fails to value climate change-related externalities. Besides, they also persist with the GDP-led policy modelling. All this is literally killing us.
- The government’s inflation-targeting priorities obviate all possibilities of it passing all of the escalating costs (diesel, LPG, food) to the consumers.
- The complexities in MSP procurement and fertiliser prices will compound the morass of stagnating food prices.
- “PM Kisan” is a wonderful initiative of the government, but there is an apprehension that it may be funded by withdrawing resources from existing agriculture initiatives and programmes.
- Farmers have shown repeatedly that they are easily distracted from livelihood issues. They must now be prepared for a precarious future.
Vision for government
- Governments, notorious for rolling out policies that can’t be implemented, generate truckloads of paperwork but are loathe to document failure.
- Till such time the system doesn’t record failure and establish accountability, framing new policies would be like playing a game of dice.
- Case Study – For example, the policy on food parks has failed and private investments in the agriculture value chain remain elusive. The bureaucracy, having only dealt in food shortages, is clueless on how to respond to food surpluses and fluctuations while farmers have been quick to respond to market signals. This has created new problems, which lead to unprecedented number of farmer agitations and suicides.
Ways to improve farmer livelihoods
- To improve farmer livelihoods, it’s absolutely essential to quickly resolve issues of the animal husbandry sector.
- Incidentally, 80 per cent of the stray cattle on the roads today are Holstein, Jersey and basically crossbreeds.
- A clear distinction can be made between these foreign breeds and the pure desi .This is how the New India can be visualised.