Posted by Neeraj Singh on March 19, 2011 at 8:07 AM
Indian agriculture, by far, has been the most neglected sector within India since independence. You have both school of thoughts in India. Those who aspire to revolutionize everything by industrialization while there are few who still think that the Indian agriculture can be salvaged.
To salvage anything for that matter, certain basic requirements are needed:
- One must not have a large degree of dependency on the external factors. Even If the external factor / environment is a highly dependent one, one must have ways to tackle that effectively without compromising on the Quality / Cost
- There shall be availability of sound if not the latest technology for you to be able to get the optimal production
- You should have skilled labour or atleast trainable labour
- You should have a good market to sell the produce without any influence
- You shall have the capacity to market your products so that you get the best price for your produce
- Enough funds to sustain even if you receive a couple of set backs
In absence of any of the above, atleast your work won't get kick started or even if you are able to kick it off, you won't really be able to sustain it. When I look at the Indian agricultural sector, I find it meeting none of the criteria above or atleast not all of it together. One other reason, in addition, is that although highly structured in terms of what & when to culture, indian agriculture is still a very un-organized when it comes to operate it. Here I am not referring to the difference between the ownership vs the working staff rather the way we pursue the agriculture itself. Our research organizations, although may have been woking for years, have least been able to convince the farming community in using the right methods & tools. Nor has the Indian government has been able to provide the latest tools / technologies to help the farmer's problems.
Reason could be manyfold but the worst of them are:
- Indifference of the elite political class to the farming community's plight although most of them come from this background (Most of our MP's / MLA's come from rural areas)
- Farmers dividing their land to the extent possible where it becomes usable only to build a house
- On top are the middlemen, who have decided that they will never work actively by themselves rather will remain parasite on other's produce to earn their living thru out this lifetime
What could be done to come out of it. When I look at these issues, I feel the only way forward is the Co-operative Concept & doing agriculture as a business rather than just for living. If we are able to convince the farmers to change their above mindset, things could become different. It is also evident by the success stories of some of the educated young people getting into farming & making profit out of it.
We all know what it means when you have to run agriculture as a means of business than for living. When I say Co-operative Concept, this is what I mean:
- Take agricultural land from individual owners & create a co-operative / consortium – it can be a leased structure
- Allocate the profit sharing within all stakeholders prior to start of the work amongst all of the land owners.
- Allocate the overall land for various types of grains / crops / flowers– this shall be based on the suitability of the land to grow
- All farmers / labourers/ individual owners to be working on this land in some way or the other. This will remove the middlemen concept completely. These people can then take on the middlemen lobbyists as well
- Use the best (within budget) technology & best grain available to culture. Even loan repayment would be easy.
- Create the best in line supply chain system to distribute the produce to BIG players in the market & even use the same as strategy to export this produce
- Employ best in class scientists / maintenance engineers / Sales teams to develop the strategy
- Define the minimum wages for all labourers / create schooling for their kids.
- Have the crop insured which typically the farmers don’t take being costly if they go for it alone – This will ensure that even with any natural calamity, the owners / Labourers are not getting affected
- Have ID’ created for all workers & keep it as an organized sector. Instead of making them work in seasons, they can work thruout the year on a fixed salary provided we have been able to establish what after what needs to be sown month on month. Remember every month can be productive.
- Take the best in class technology for efficiency from abroad / indigenously
- Create trained labour class, Liaise with the research institutes for training; Ample available across India
It's not that it can't be done. It's question of "Will" & some like minded people to get together & start thinking in this direction. We need to come out of our shells. Few Corporates are already doing it which is helping their cause quite well, then why can't the individuals.