AGRICULTURE: A SERIOUS PRIORITY.

Food is the basic necessity of all living beings, and the humans are the only species who toil to grow different varieties of eatables for satisfying their hunger as well as taste. Millions of other species depend wholly on nature for food and consume very few unprocessed items throughout their life, in contrast to humans who need thousands of items differently processed in hundreds of ways in order not only to satisfy hunger but also the taste. This run for variety and taste leads to hundreds of complicated diseases and for the remedy of which he requires thousands of drugs and medicines for which he has again to depend upon agriculture.

To meet the basic requirements, production of varieties of food grains, fruits, poultry and the allied items, agriculture and the allied activities need to be given a top priority. Although a lot of development has been made in the agriculture sector including the allied activities such as horticulture, floriculture, apiculture, fishery, animal rearing, dairy, and poultry farming as well as growing of medicinal plants, yet there is a mismatch between the efforts, planning, level of production, storing, value additions, marketing, and pricing. A lot needs to be done in the field of proper planning and management of agricultural production by the concerned agencies/departments associated with this important and vital sector. All the stakeholders such as agriculture deptt. of the concerned governments, agriculture scientists, their field staff, concerned officers from electric and irrigation deptt and the bankers, especially in the underdeveloped and developing countries need to stand shoulder to shoulder with the farmers in the fields. The approach of all the concerned has to be focussed and a target-oriented and not as a mere casual social responsibility.

PROBLEMS

  • In the absence of proper and timely support and guidance especially to the marginal, small, and medium farmers they are unable to manage a balance between production, supply and demand. The incidence of continuous drought or floods leaves them in distress. Their absolute poverty gets further burdened by the bank loans they have availed. Farmers by nature are shy and hesitant about visiting various govt. offices especially which are located in the far-off cities. Under these circumstances, they are exploited by the comparatively better off people in the society including the politicians. This exploitation has discouraged them from their traditional activity since ages and compels them to migration to other activities by disposing of their land. Many such farmers go into depression and resort to suicides or become landless laborers. Maximum migration has happened in agriculture sector than in any other during the last few decades. These dangerous trends of migration and suicides are a blot on the society and the nation as a whole, so need a serious thought. WAIVING OF LOANS IS NOT THE SOLUTION. IT DOESN’T EMPOWER A FARMER IN ANY MANNER. Unless he is empowered by providing timely support, and proper guidance, he can’t come out of the vicious circle of poverty.
  • Agricultural land is shrinking day by day with the development of infrastructure, industry, services sector and housing. Fertile land especially around the cities and towns and along the highways is being converted into business markets, big housing projects, malls and palaces for holding big functions. A suitable policy needs to be made to take care of this dangerous trend.
  • Maintaining the fertility of the soil needs a serious thought. In order to produce more, we are resorting to excessive use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and insecticides. They not only spoil the fertility and aroma of the soil but are harmful to the entire living creatures including humans.
  • We are still resorting to flooding type of irrigation on a very large scale and thus wasting the water which is already in scarcity. In absence of proper distribution of water and proper management of existing canals, we are forced to resort to the drilling for water from the underground sources which in addition to being a costly proposition also disturbs the balance of nature.
  • Inspite of so much development we have failed to make value addition to our agricultural produce at the farmers level. This benefit of value addition by proper grading, attractive and convenient to handle packing, is reaped by someone else.
  • Convenient and cheap availability of duly certified high yielding hybrid seeds as well as replacing the traditional fruit orchards into high-density orchards are still in the infancy stage and need to be taken up on priority.

SOLUTIONS

  • Development in agriculture and allied activities needs to be taken as a top priority and handled in a mission mode. All concerned agencies associated with the development of agriculture, horticulture, and all activities related thereto, need to work unitedly in complete harmony with targets of final results fixed for each agency. Agriculture is not an indoor activity so the entire support system has to move to the field and stand by the farmer from sowing to the harvesting of the crop/produce. The concerned persons from the agriculture, irrigation, flood control, and power deptt. should camp in the field rather than remaining in the offices in the cities. They should ensure that all support and guidance is available to the farmer on spot. A combined support is required. Only credit dispensation to farmers would not be sufficient. ONLY MONEY CAN’T MAKE THE MARE GO.
  • There should be a complete ban on the conversion and use of agricultural land for any purpose other than agriculture. As far as possible all other activities need to be carried out on the barren and uncultivatable land. More and more land needs to be brought under agriculture by levelling and using scientific technology.
  • Use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and insecticides need to be gradually replaced by organic manures. Organic farming is a mantra for improving the lot of the farmers as it is cheaper and the product sells at a better rate. With a change in the lifestyle of people, they are more inclined towards organic products. Production of vermi compost which takes about one-month in making from the dung of cows and buffaloes is comparatively easier than the traditional dumping of the animal dung for years. Vermicompost is easy to make in a very short time and is very healthy organic manure. Similarly converting all types of dry grass, weed, stubble, green grass and leaves by mixing with dung in a scientific manner into green manure, saves money and the soil as well as the environment from pollution. LIKE GREEN AND WHITE REVOLUTION WHICH HAVE CHANGED THE LOT OF THE FARMERS AND STATUS OF THE COUNTRY, THE BROWN REVOLUTION i.e CONVERTING AGRICULTURE, HORTICULTURE, AND FLORICULTURE WASTE INTO ORGANIC MANURE WITHOUT USE OF ANY CHEMICALS, NEEDS TO BE TAKEN IN A MISSION MODE.
  • Making canal irrigation more effective by plugging the leakages and proper cleaning of the same in order to ensure that there is no wastage of water and it reaches the tail end. Instead of flooding type of irrigation, sprinkle and drip irrigation be practised in order to make the best use of available water.  Rainwater harvesting is the need of the hour so all water bodies need to be properly maintained. Flood channels need to be developed and properly maintained by erecting protection walls. The underground water table needs to be charged especially around the tube and bore-wells.
  • Conservation of water is the necessity in the present times. A very inspiring, innovative and successful effort has been made in the remote cold deserts of Ladakh by a young engineer Mr. Sonam Wangchuk for conserving water by making artificial glaciers out of running water from the upstream. These artificial glaciers melt during summer and provide water for irrigation. We should take inspiration from such innovators who did it in the cold desert.
  • There is hardly any value addition to crop, vegetables, and fruits at the hands of the producer resulting in less price being realised by him. Either the middlemen or the big traders who have resources and expertise reap the benefits of value addition by proper grading and attractive packaging of the produce. In absence of cold chain transportation system and cold storing facilities available to the producer, he is compelled to dispose of his produce at throwaway price lest his produce becomes stale and starts decaying. The poor fellow is exploited by the private market regulators. It is an irony that though being an agricultural economy we are importing both vegetables and fruits from small countries whereas a big chunk of our own produce gets spoiled due to less shelf life. We need to enhance the shelf life of our fruits and vegetables by developing infrastructure like cold chain transportation system and cold storing in order to increase the shelf life of fruits and vegetables in order to check their wastage.
  •   In many cases, the farmer is unable to realise even the input cost. This frustration is visible when the farmers have thrown potatoes, tomatoes, and onions and other produce on the roads in protests and anger. The government needs to come forward and devise a system for a proper price management, procurement, and distribution of the farmer’s produce. Contract farming and forward contract system/commodity trading through exchanges may be of help to manage the prices.
  • The difference between the price at which a farmer sells and the price at which a consumers purchase is huge. Neither the producer nor the consumer is benefited. The huge margin is pocketed by someone else who exploits both of them. This has to be identified and the system put on rails so that the market is properly regulated.
  • All required ingredients such as hybrid seed, fertilisers, equipment and medicines for the crops should be made available to the farmers from a place convenient to them and that too in time.

Unless the interests of the farmers are safeguarded and the agriculture made an attractive, viable and profitable vocation migration from this sector would continue unabated thereby putting this important sector to serious problems.

There is a continuous growth in population on the globe and requirement of the food items is increasing every day. In India, the growth rate in the population is twenty million per year which creates additional demand for the food products every year. Unless proper planning is not done and implemented on the ground by all the concerned agencies, it is feared that we would become a  food deficient nation thus subjecting the country to exploitation by the food-surplus countries.

Agriculture as such needs to be given a focused attention in order of ensuring good income for the farmers so that people are attracted towards this sector.