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Political Play
CA Dr Sunil Gupta
Let the agriculture sector be the economy booster 02 September, 2014
When we know that every second Indian earns livelihood from agriculture and allied activities, that agricultural growth rate determines the prices of basic commodities and even the banks' interest rates, and that India ranks first in the world in terms of production of many fruits and vegetables, then how can we allow this crucial sector to account for only 16-17 per cent of the GDP?

Inflation, unemployment, unequal income distribution, and below average productivity are a few concerns that can undoubtedly be taken care of if workable measures are undertaken to uplift the agriculture sector. On the verge of losing exclusivity, the area demands attention.

And when we talk of boosting agriculture, replicating Gujarat's way of administration appears to be most promising. Everyone knows that when the rest of India was struggling hard to attain 4 per cent growth rate in agriculture, Gujarat emerged as a state that delivered almost 10 per cent growth rate for 10 long years from 2001 to 2011 owing to good governance and real reforms.

In the same context, it is vital to note that Mr. Modi-led state government, which inherited 10 thousand check dams, has elevated the number to 15 thousand, thus assuring that 60 per cent of cotton farming area is irrigated. The measure has helped the state to upsurge cotton production by 800 per cent in the past decade and also attain 300 per cent hike in food grain production.

The World Bank in 2008 pointed out how poor roads, unwarranted regulations, and unhelping market structure prevent Indian farmers to freely access the market, which along with outdated irrigation arrangement is accountable for decline in the agricultural output.

In the year 2011, the World Bank appreciated economic progress of India; however revealed how unproductive and incompetent agriculture sector is resulting in gap in income as well as human development. The World Bank laid special emphasis on facilitating rural non-farm entrepreneurship, and policies that could encourage competition in agricultural marketing so that farmers receive best prices.

Horticulture revolution in Gujarat is an example that can be followed by many other states like Maharashtra and Bihar. How the APMC, which has been a subject-matter of just discussions, was managed in Gujarat is too a learning bit. Plus, how the state has been responding positively to those who wish to set up private mandis is something others need to pick up.

In many of the articles of newspapers, you can read how and why the farmers of Bihar have no other option than to sell off their paddy produce even below the minimum support price. The farmers also part with their staples rice and wheat produce at 20 per cent less than the MSP. And why isn't anyone seem to be cared about the much-needed 'organic farming'? Remember, helping these farmers in production and marketing of their produce will assure lessened poison in our food.

Indian governments, since long, have been trying hard to push the growth rate of the industrial sector, hence numerous industrial corridors viz. DMIC, CBIC, and ADKIC are projected, which aim at united cooperation from multiple states. The 'Pak-China Economic Corridor' is an attempt by two nations, Pakistan and China to exchange technology pertaining to fertilizers, pesticides, agro-chemicals, and seeds so as to boost their agricultural sectors. 

On similar lines, agricultural corridors embracing feasible states shall be set up in India, which should aim at developing robust system for this sector, along with extending help within the group. Elevation of our agricultural sphere, wherein its share in GDP should match shoulders with other sectors, will proudly bring back the saying 'Krishi Pradhan Desh- Bharat' for the nation.

What Mr. Arun Jaitley recently spoke about regarding delisting fruits and vegetables from the states APMC Acts can be a constructive step towards bringing down the food inflation. For now, almost everyone knows what market area, market committee, and wholesale marketing norms under the APMC have delivered with respect to shielding farmers from exploitation.

Along with, the government will have to focus on water rich provinces of the east, which will in turn add to productivity, food security, and commercial viability. Lastly, when many reports reveal that our production is not the prime factor for high prices and unavailability of food grains, it becomes easy to comprehend where the holdback subsists- Carriage of produce.

If we look at the global picture with respect to agriculture and farmers, no farmer would ever want his successors to carry the same profession. Despite setting aside USD 956 billion in the 2014 U.S Farm Bill, the government of the U.S. hasn't been able to convince farmers to pursue the same job. 

Alike is the case in the entire Europe where every one farmer quits work in every one minute. At some places, farmers' sorrow is connected with unfair land acquisition; while at others, the subsidies aimed at their advantage are relished by agro-based companies. Nations with flourishing GDPs (backed by contribution from the industrial or the services sector) have though earmarked funds for the betterment of farmers, farmers have rarely benefited.

When we talk of financial inclusion, equality in income distribution and such other pluses, can we overlook the fact that almost 3 lakh Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1995 owing to minimal surviving aspects? China has demonstrated to the world how an economy can boom even with more of industrial share in GDP as compared to share of the services sector. 

The rule that with escalating economy the share of agricultural sector dips has to be smashed by India. This is the time when we can set an example and can emerge as a nation with sturdy economy backed by the agricultural sector. Common man-turned-PM, Mr. Modi, is expected to pay heed to the concerns of those who are the backbone of mankind. Indeed, ones who help the rest of the Indians to overcome hunger can never be left in vain.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
A Chartered Accountant by profession and Director on the board of Punjab National Bank (PNB), General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC) and Rural Electrification Corporation Limited (REC). Dr. Sunil Gupta is working flawlessly for the economic and social prosperity of India.
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