The Bold Voice of J&K

Swaminathan Commission (NCF) too pinned Agrarian Distress in no assured immediate remunerative market

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Why there is need for a legally dedicated Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Agri Produce in India?
Under present system only Government is obliged to buy Farm Produce on MSP but Trader is Not

DAYA SAGAR

To be precise , while attending the issues /demands/ solutions related to Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Agriculture produce & farmer protests ,the farming community particularly that is landless/ falls in small & marginal category ( less than 2 Hectare holding) needs to be kept more in focus. Going by reports and data in public domain as available from government / researcher sources/ Agri Census 2015-16/ Agri Census 2014 / 2010-11 & like for the working analysis representative information could be summed up as
(i)In India, small and marginal farmers’ average size of holdings is only about 0.38 hectare (some studies quote it as 0.59) as compared to 17.37 hectare for large farmers (which too is not large enough worth lucrative income)
(ii) The holdings with small & marginal farmers cannot generate adequate employment and income from crop cultivation and they cultivate around 44 to 46 per cent of the cultivable area and produce 48 to 49% of rice, 38 to 40% of wheat, 28 to 29% of coarse cereals and 25 to 27% of pulses and may be even nearly half of the country’s fruits and vegetables production
(iii) some researchers have even opined that some small and marginal farmers are more efficient than the large farmers in terms of cropping intensity and unit output
(iv).According to the Agricultural Census 2010 -11 Indian small & marginal farmers held around 85 per cent of the operational holdings and the area operated by the marginal farmers ( less than 1 Hect) was around 51 per cent in 1970-71 which had increased to 67 per cent by 2010 which shows that farmers with un lucrative holdings / low earnings are in much more prominent numbers in India.
Whereas, as per provisional numbers from the 10th Agriculture Census 2015-16 released in 01-10-2018 Small and Marginal farmers with less than two hectares of land account for 86.2% of all farmers in India, but own just 47.3% of the crop area (v) As was also informed in Lok Sabha in reply to a starred question in Feb by Government of India Ministry of Agriculture Farmers are classified as Marginal Farmer .
(vi) As per the results (provisional) of latest Agriculture Census 2015-16, the State-wise average size of operational holdings in the country range from 0.18 Hectare ( Kerela) to 3.62 Hectare ( Punjab) with all India Average as 1.08 Hectare / Family where Bihar is 0.39 Hec UP is 0.73 Hect MP is 1.7 Hect J&K is 0.59 Hectare only. For all farmers put together, the size of average land holding declined from 1.15 hectares in 2010-11 to 1.08 hectares in 2015-16. Some studies have shown that Uttar Pradesh accounted for the largest number of operational holdings or farmers at 23.8 million followed by Bihar (16.4 million) and Maharashtra (14.7 million). Among operated or farmed areas, Rajasthan topped the list with 20.9 million hectares, followed by Maharashtra (19.9 million hectares) and Uttar Pradesh (17.45 million hectares).
The total area under farming, however, fell from 159.6 million hectares in 2010-11 to 157.14 million hectares in 2015-16.
In comparison, semi-medium and medium land holding farmers owning between 2-10 hectares of land account for only 13.2% of all farmers, but own 43.6% of crop area, the survey showed.
(vii) The National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was constituted on November 18, 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan. The Terms of Reference reflected the priorities listed in the Common Minimum Programme of then government. The NCF submitted four reports in December 2004, August 2005, December 2005 and April 2006 respectively. The fifth and final report was submitted on October 4, 2006. The reports contained suggestions to achieve the goal of “faster and more inclusive growth” as envisaged in the Approach to 11th Five Year Plan.
(viii) Table 1 of the Fifth National Commission on Farmers (NCF) Report of 4 Oct 2006 (based on Some Aspects of Household Ownership Landholdings-1991-92. NSS Report-399 ) summarised the Land Holding /percentage of House Holds as Landless/11.24 percent , Sub-margin holdings (0.01 – 0.99 acres) /40.11 percent ; Marginal holdings (1.00 – 2.49 acres)/20.1 percent ; Small holdings (2.50 – 4.99 acres)/13.42 percent; Medium holdings (5 – 14.99 acres)/12.09 percent; Large holdings (15 acres + above)/2.2 percent where 1 Hectare = 2.5 Acres.
(ix) Among the findings and recommendations of NCF there also references like meaning that agrarian distress has led farmers to commit suicide in recent years, the major causes of the agrarian crisis lie in unfinished agenda in land reform, quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy & timeliness of institutional credit, and opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing and adverse meteorological factors add to these problems.
(x)The NCF also recommended that “Agriculture” be inserted in the Concurrent List of the Constitution
(xi) the status of Indian farmer community and their issues is so widely pronged that the data of related reports/ surveys / analysis may at places may not match but still it is not far away from giving a working platform.
There are large number of small and marginal farmers in India , close to 12.6 Cr owning around nearly 7.44 Cr hectares land which means it is also challenging for the extension machinery to reach the needy with new technology /support schemes which fingers towards the reasons for not there being enough to produce surpluses which can financially sustain their families and the rising discontent/ distress in large number of Indian farmers who often run to sell their crop immediately on harvest flooding the mandies / markets where their pending financial needs force them to go far distress sales , so often much below the MSP announced by government since government agencies who purchase on MSP have limited requirement / area of operation. Keeping the economic status of large majority ( nearly 85 to 87 percent ) of Indian farmers who own lands from less than 0.3 hectares to less than 2 hectares and their capital reservelessness keeping them under pressure of local basic family needs for physical survival / social commitments / debts which puts them under pressure / compulsion to rush to mandies / market for selling their food grains / crops immediately on harvest thereby compelling them to sell at price offered by traders to meet their cash needs surely supports the doctrine of declaring a MSP for cereals / non cereal crops although majority of Indian people are agriculturist( Unlike USA).
To be continued
(The author is a Sr Journalist and Social Activist).

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