Why is Indian agriculture in danger?
20 Oct 2018 | 02:02 PM | Sangawari
Image Courtsey: Times of India
There are a lot of reasons for the problems faced in the current scenario of the agriculture industry and farmers' lives. In this blog, I have tried to cover all the main aspects.
India’s 59% population is engaged in agricultural activities and it contributed to 17.32% of India’s GDP in 2016. India is the largest producer of milk, jute, and pulses, and has the world's second-largest cattle population with 170 million animals in 2011. It is the second-largest producer of rice, wheat, sugarcane, cotton, and groundnuts, as well as the second-largest fruit and vegetable producer, accounting for 10.9% and 8.6% of the world fruit and vegetable production, respectively. India is also the second-largest producer and the largest consumer of silk, producing 77,000 tons in 2005. But even after all this, why do two farmers commit suicide in India, every hour?
A farmer commits suicide due to many reasons, and the root cause for many other reasons is the loss occurred in farming. There are several factors in India which affect the farmers' earnings. I discussed the factors of loss with many of my friends, talked to farmers with different economic backgrounds, researched online and tried to figure out some of the main aspects that highly affect farmers' income. I found that all the factors are interlinked with each other. Let us understand how it is interlinked.
For example, Gattu was a farmer who faced a loss in the last crop he harvested due to drought and because of the loss, he took a loan for his next crop from a rich guy in his village called Raju Seth with compound interest. As Gattu was illiterate, he did not know the government’s farmer credit scheme which provides a loan at very low and simple interest. Gattu heard from his friend Miku that, to increase production he was using high yield variety (HYV) seeds. So he decided to do the same as increased production meant increased income and invested all his money to buy HYV seeds which are expensive than the ordinary ones. Also, growing a crop from HYV seeds is not that easy as it requires some chemical fertilizers so that they get proper nutrients to grow. Using chemical fertilizers resulted in increased production and also increased pests, insects, and weeds due to which Gattu purchased insecticide, pesticide, weedicide to save his crop. The soil fertility was spoiled due to the usage of chemical fertilizers. Now, the next time he did farming he required more chemical fertilizer as usage of chemical fertilizer had decreased the soil fertility which increased his cost of production. But the cost of the crop was still constant. So, the cost of production kept on increasing due to increased consumption of fertilizer and the cost of the crop remained the same which lead to decreasing profit and ended up with a loss. Now, he was trapped in the cycle of increasing debt to Raju Seth, due to which he was unable to invest in new farming equipment and tools to cope up with the situation. After all this, he thought that he couldn’t get rid of this debt trap and he committed suicide. After Gattu’s death, the farmland got divided into two parts between his two sons Minku and Tinku. Near their farmland, a new factory started its operation which leads to labour/ farm workers shortage because now they have to adopt modern tools and technology. These increase the problem more since it becomes harder to do farming with modern tools in small pieces of land. This results in this loop of debt and loss which keeps going on.
So, this shows how all the causes are interlinked to each other and create a trap for farmers. Yet there are farmers who have become successful in the agriculture industry by adopting modern techniques of farming using modern tools like automated irrigation, drone scanning, etc. Also, many farmers managed to get rid of the trap by choosing organic farming and finding a perfect market for their produce, which gives them a fair price for their hard work and efforts. Some of them do contractual farming, export to other states, countries and get a fair price. Even though the successful farmers have somehow managed to earn a huge profit, not all the farmers can adopt their solution. The Indian farming condition can be improved only when we can provide a better domestic market to farmers where they can sell their produce easily on a fair price, and develop easy to use tools and technology suitable for small farmlands at reasonable costs.