December 1, 2021

The World Stock Markets Tips & Targets, News, Views & Updates

The World Stock Markets Tips & Targets, News, Views & Updates

Agri reform needed, and still possible

Is the repeal of the three farm laws the end of agricultural reform in India? There is no reason for such pessimism. An old saying in several Indian languages holds that all roads lead to Kashi. In other words, there are many roads to Kashi. If one is closed, others beckon. In fact, we have held that there are better ways to the needed agri reform than that held out by the three laws that were passed in a hurry and now would be repealed. Before disrupting the status quo, the beneficiaries of the status quo, at least a majority of them, must be pointed to an outcome superior to the one they already have, and as a realisable goal, rather than as an abstract, wishful possibility. The reform implicit in the farm laws ignores this; and now delineating that superior outcome should be the priority.

The government had announced massive investments in the farm sector, to link the farmer to the market and the end consumer, so that the farmers capture a higher share of the final price paid by the consumer than at present. Those investments must materialise. Incentive and technology-extension services similar to those that were put in place to wean farmers off traditional varieties of grain and direct them to high-yielding varieties and superior crop husbandry must be put in place to wean farmers off superfluous and ruinous grain and towards the crops of which India still has a shortage – pulses, oil seeds, fruit and animal proteins – and new crops, whose traditional areas of cultivation are being disrupted by climate change and for which India’s diverse agroclimatic conditions offer hospitable environs, whether cocoa, vanilla and coffee or diverse varieties of flowers.

Stabilising power availability in rural areas and replacing subsidised inputs with income support will improve resource efficiency and encourage value addition. Organising producer cooperatives or farmer companies is vital, to let farmers gainfully interact with large agribusiness. So is banning export bans. All these measures can be undertaken without the farm laws.

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