Why Agriculture Policies are meaningless for farmers?
By: Vijay Sardana
Agriculture Policies world-over encourage exploitation:
Pick-up any agriculture policy and read it, it says we need agriculture development to ensure food security, it never says we want farmers to become wealthy and prosperous. When we start any policy work with a biased objective, that is to exploit the producer and supplier for the benefit of consumer and user, can such policies deliver justice and encourage the producer and suppliers to do their best and deliver their best. I don’t think so.
Recently, I was at John F. Kennedy International Airport while going for a meeting of New Vision for Agriculture to World Economic Forum. Like every nation, America also glorifies some of their great leaders. I was keen to know what Mr. Kennedy did for the sector which I like, i.e. Agriculture and Agro-processing.
I came about this statement:
“The American farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything he buys at retail, sells everything he sells at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” – John F. Kennedy
Please read it again but slowly and pause after every 5 words and think about it.
Now look around and think what has changed in last 50 years (John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Nov. 1963) for farmers.
Let us see what Europe is doing with agriculture, In Europe, Launched in 1962, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is a partnership between agriculture and society, between Europe and its farmers.
Its main aims are: To improve agricultural productivity, so that consumers have a stable supply of affordable food. To ensure that EU farmers can make a reasonable living.
Why farmers should make reasonable living, when every one else in economy wants to become reasonable wealthy or super rich. Let us see what is happening in India, I suggest please go to Google and search “Agriculture Policy of India”, what you will get is this.
NEW AGRICULTURE POLICY of India says, Agriculture is a way of life, a tradition, which, for centuries, has shaped the thought, the outlook, the culture and the economic life of the people of India. Agriculture, therefore, is and will continue to be central to all strategies for planned socio-economic development of the country. Rapid growth of agriculture is essential not only to achieve self-reliance at national level but also for household food security and to bring about equity in distribution of income and wealth resulting in rapid reduction in poverty levels. (Have you noticed that farmer is missing from the objective?)
What are the objectives of Agriculture Policies of the civilized world?
Exploit rural poor for urban rich in other words agriculture for the benefit of Urban Citizen.
NGOs have problem how much water he is using in his farm, but they are not willing to stop their own water wasting activities at home and for their recreation and not willing to change food items which consumes excessive water. They want farmers to change his practice.
Consumers are keen to stop use of agro-chemicals and fertilizer which helps farmers in crop protect and crop yield, but they are not willing to pay the price for reduced production and economic loss which farmers will suffer due to their fancy concepts.
Consumers want biodiversity to be preserved by farmers but they are willing to uproot all biodiversity and greenery when they have to make their golf courses, housing complexes, infrastructure projects and all facilities for better life.
Is this fair behavior of civilized society and so called NGOs to put all responsibilities on farmers’ for their own fancy wish list?
Don’t you think this is exploitation of farmers by educated and civilized world.
What is the way out?
Like every other trade union, should farmers produce food only for their requirements, not for consumers, as mark of protest.
With new Food Security Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, I think he can live without selling their food crop to cities.
What will happen to civilized people living in cities?
They will shout for food inflation. I think they should not regret if they don’t get food because they never paid for food production to farmer, they never paid fair wages to farmers. If you calculate minimum wages for farmers, they will not be able to afford food.
It was he who was offering his essential food to cities for the survival of people in cities. In return, he was not getting anything, which was essential for his survival.
Just think about it.
Food inflation is a good message for all those who are living in cities because I hope this will send some sensible message to our Policy makers and NGOs that farmers also need income because they also need latest mobile phones, latest cars, multiplexes to enjoy life. Their kids also need parting and discos, their wives also need kitty parties and fashion shows and malls. After all farmers is feeding their stomach so that they can enjoy life, in return he is suffering from basic health, basic education basic potable water and roads etc.
Is this civilized world governed by civilized people who can do justice to farmer?
If she or he is happy, he will produce more food. May be on sustainable basis.
Incidentally, it was 50 years back in Nov. 1963, JFK was assassinated, but we have done nothing in last 50 years to address the issues raised by him for the benefit of farmers.
This is the only sector of economy where the producer has no say in anything related to his activity. Consumer groups have problems with the seeds he wants to use, but they are not willing to pay the price for their fancy ideas. But farmers can’t ask any consumer from where and what he is consuming, why they are using products which are leading to environmental pollution.
NGOs those who shout and wants to decide which technology farmers use, better they should start producing their own food. No one stopping them from doing so. If they are so much concerned about environment, let them stop using cars and plastics which can damage the environment. Are the willing to do so? If not, why they are expecting farmers to follow their own illogical and self serving ideology.
I think it is high time we should start thinking how to make agriculture profitable not just sustainable.
Whoever has a problem in addressing aspirations of farmers is free to produce his or her own food. Choose your own source of food. Stop imposing philosophies which are hurting farmers prosperity. Stop exploiting farmers. It is time to say thank you to him, every day, and at least three times a day.
Can we ensure that in future economic policies, we will address the concerns raised by JFK Kennedy. I think, at least, all american educated economist should work on this what JFK said.
Will we address these issues in coming years?
Why till date no economic model was developed to address this issue rasied by JFK?
Because Nobel prize is also for those who can justify exploitation by creating theories, which are socially and politically acceptable.
What do you say… any views… if yes do send or write below…