Wednesday, February 07, 2007

india's agriculture once had a lion's share of the gdp. this is natural as hundreds of millions of rural people depended on agriculture.

as india shifted to various industries including software, car manufacturing, iron&steel, red tag industrial sectors, etc the agriculture contribution to gdp has come down significantly such that it now contributes only around 20% of india's gdp.

but real development is not a question of gdp. politician turned cricket minister turned agriculture minister who seldom has time for agricultural issues, continous farmers suicides, high interest rates for agriculture (when compared to say low interest rates for luxury cars by nationalised banks - gotcha increase the gpd right!!!), massive inputs costs due to high usage of pesticidies, depleting water tables in rural areas due to lack of watershed management, etc has contributed to this sorry state.

my friend in tamilnadu puts it this way. "being a clerk in chennai is way more luxurious than being a small farmer". a whopping 80% of land holdings are small farmers (having less than 5 acres) in india and that brings some natural questions like,
a. what are the government schemes for this crucial small farmers
b. how are the free power/free water/etc kind of subsidies benefitting small farmers vis-a-vis large farmers who typically have greater than 25 acres or more.
c. what are the challenges faced by small farmers
d. how are small farmers doing in suicide belt states of maharastra, kerala, karnataka, etc
e. how can their livelihood be sustained by organic farming that has low costs in terms of lower inputs.
f. what are the benefits the agriculture labourer who work in these small farms.
g. what are the education/agri based livelihood/etc schemes for small farmers and agriculture labourers,
h. many more things to target this segment.

but for the government and policy makers are maniac on boosting gdp figures rather than true ground level indicators, understanding the small farmers and improving their productivity/yield/livelihood/income generation/etc hardly matters.


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