Farming or Farming Industry?

Is farming not an industry? Does it not “produce” food grains? Does it not produce fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, animals for meat? Does it not produce flowers, honey, fodder, herbs, wood, resins, rubber and everything classified by economists or developers of commerce & industry as “raw material”?

Does it not require “investment” in plant & machinery like tractors, tyres, motor pumps, crushers and a host of other cultivation and harvesting machinery?

Is the farmer an uneducated person or highly qualified degree holder B.Sc. in Agriculture, Veterinary Science or horticulture?

When investment in farming is high, working capital needs huge, risks astronomical, a 24×7 job without a day of rest till harvesting and market economy traditionally not in favour, is s/he not entitled to get remunerative price for her/his produce?

Between industrial goods and farm goods, which one is life threatening and which one life sustaining?

Why should the farmer be penalized when the elements or the markets go against her/him?

When an industry fails, the enterprise goes “bankrupt”. But when a farming enterprise fails, the farmer commits suicide or is committed to jail for loan default.

Isn’t something horribly wrong with the whole economics of farming?

Where is the question of farm produce getting wasted? Application of technology will prove that nothing goes waste if properly processed. It is only because of high investments required for processing the agricultural produce (to dehydrate, process, pack, store and send to the market in an organized fashion) that the farmer shies away and realizes something less than even the input cost.

That is undoubtedly bad economics.

Farming is highly remunerative to the high and mighty, such as politicians, bureaucrats and businesspersons, who save income tax on it. Most influential people- politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, criminals and film stars have Farm Houses in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mysuru, Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Jaipur, Bhopal etc. Only the farmer is without a farm or a house, since it has all gone into mortgage for getting farm inputs!

Novel, innovative, creative ideas are needed to make farming the first choice of properly trained youth. Farming needs to get back its top position in economic activity. In India, it is said “uttam kheti, madhyam vyapaar, nimn chakari” meaning farming best, business next best and job next to it only.

Industrialization has upended this order, with all its gains and losses. Big industrial enterprises, however, own hectares of farm land, which they have developed for farming, horticulture & floriculture in addition to their industrial activity. They grow “organic” foods and the poor farmer over-uses chemical fertilizers. India has to think anew!

The concept of MSP for the farm sector should be replaced by sharing the input cost plus minimum wages for the farmer “to farm” so that the country is always self-sufficient in food production and there is no National Food Shortage Disaster.

Why should somebody do the onerous job of farming unless there is good monetary motivation to do so? Why would he not opt for the comfort of a factory or office job? If farming makes him rich why thrust poverty on him?

It is very unfair to include every economic activity under the definition of “industry” to provide it soft loans for long duration and re-structuring facility and clever ways to make NPA of it whereas harshest laws are promulgated for the farmer.

What better illustration of this harshness be given than the language used in the Land Revenue Act, which are extended to trade & Business for recovery of taxes as “arrears of land revenue”?

Revenue dues can be recovered from the farmer by confiscation of land or other assets and punishment includes jail term too.

Farm sector gives the highest revenue in direct and indirect form and provides highest employment at comparatively lower per unit cost but continues to be treated roughly as was the case under the Mughal Rule and British Rule.

This sector deserves to be treated as a cooperative venture between the state and the individual farmer. It will initiate a change that would impact the whole world and its economy. The FAO will follow such a farm Model. This will be the Indian Farm Model, as it was the Gujarat Model within India.

Will the Indian Prime Minister and the Finance Minister care to give the matter due consideration and reflect them in the Budget 2018-19?

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