Farmers known as food-givers, are today facing financial crisis and committing suicides on being unable to repay their heavy loans. But, is it the solution to the problem?
It is rightly said that even though you might not be part of a problem, you could become part of its solution. Although, there are no specific case studies available to establish that the suicides occur because of heavy loans which the farmers take from banks or private money lenders. Without going into the details and numbers of farmers who have committed suicide so far, the cause generally understood is heavy debt.
Since the dependence of Indian population on agriculture is more, there is dire need to reduce the dependency of people of agriculture, motivating them to switch over to other allied professions for better income.
But, the way the movement by the farmers has taken violent shape, shifting from one state to another, the problems faced by farmers have come on the surface at the national level.
The farmers are agitating demanding loan waivers throughout India, which was initiated by Yogi Adityanath's populist policies in the state of UP. What did the Yogi government do? Waived loans of the farmers of UP and started raising funds from other sources to meet the state expenditure.
During a farmer's agitation in Madhya Pradesh, five farmers were killed in police firing.
No doubt, there has been strong economic development during the last six decades on two common patterns agriculture and industrial-based economies.
The reason behind agrarian crisis is that the government has not paid much attention to agriculture but concentrated more on the service sector. In fact, the agriculture income does not raise much with the consumption.
Lack of land reforms is also one of the reasons for atrocities on Dalits and it is land ownership that leads to social conflict and social tensions. Dalits should get twenty per cent of the total land in India.
With the landholding becoming smaller, the plight of the small and marginal farmers is increasing. It is the small farmers in crisis and small holdings of land are increasing in India. BR Ambedkar advocated a policy where the state will intervene to create state supported farming practices but not the way of socialist or communist way rather through cooperative farming. It could be one of the reasons that such category of farmers is not able to repay the loans.
Another major reason could be termed as high cost of agricultural inputs. The government has a duty to give High Yielding Varieties (HVY) seeds to all the farmers beside providing them the needed inputs for high yield. On this front, the government has miserable failed.
Above all other farmers, the marketing of the produce is equally, rather more important. The farmers must have access to the larger markets where they can sell the produce on the higher side which at present is limited. If the production is on the higher side, they had a problem of its marketing.
According to Dr.Swaminathan report, there is a need to make storage points at around 150 places in the country besides setting up the cold storages to store the perishable items but relieving the farmer from this part of the problem. Unless and until the farmer is paid for their produce at least over and above the actual sowing and caring cost, the loans taken from the bank or from the private commission agents cannot be paid.
Soil conservation could also help in increasing the yield which is at the dismal state in India. Besides regular soil survey, it is important to have a comprehensive policy to conserve the soil. At the same time, the farmers community has to be put wiser the take care of soil also by not burning the stubble after the harvesting which damage soil quality and cause heavy pollution. Simultaneously, disposal of stubble instead of burning has to be introduced before sowing. This too could help in increasing the yield of the next crop making the farmer financial sound to some extent.
Most of the farmers in India do not have access to the organized credit facilities and they are dependent on rich and powerful individuals who try to exploit them with their power and muscles.
Indian agriculture is lot of potential perhaps as compared to other countries. But India has to modernize its agriculture pattern to compete in the international market. On the other hand, China through its police of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is converting Pakistan into a Food Basket which will create integration between the two neighbouring countries.
In view of uncertain weather conditions in the country, the field of crop insurance has to be widened rather making it mandatory to lower the burden on the government for compensation to them.
Franking speaking, it is not in the case of farmers even in routing life I have encountered number of persons fed up from the routine life with one or the other reasons of stress. But one thing is clear that when it is told to them that committing suicide is not the solution rather facing with the circumstances is, they are convinced without waiting for fraction of second to give a second thought to my version.
I do support the farmers who are agitating but they should agitate to create awareness about their plight and not to find the total solution to their chronic illness. They should demand better facilities rather than asking for waiving off loans. They should plan their income and expenses on 'containing is gaining' basis by using the loans for the purpose it has been withdrawn and never think of committing suicide which is not the solution to their problem rather it is giving a problem to rest of the family members, society and nation as well.
Notwithstanding the Modi government has assured to double the income of the farmers by 2020 but so far there are no positive results as per the steps taken. Three years' is not a sufficient time to show the results to bring reforms but the farmers must be judicious in their life style and show patience while highlighting their problems before the government.
The recent decision of the Punjab Government for a waiver of crop loans upto Rs.2 lakh for small and marginal farmers up to 5 acres and a flat Rs.2 lakh relief for all other marginal farmers irrespective of their loan amount, will pave the way for a total waiver of agriculture debts.