Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 28 November 2020 2.30 PM IST

Feed the feeders first


The farmers are the basic producers on earth, for they alone produce one of the basic needs, namely, food. The very existence of a nation is based on the security and property of its agricultural sector. India is no different. Culture comes from agriculture (land+tilling) and the great Indian culture, famed to be the best in the world, has its roots in the farms and its soul, like Gandhiji rightly remarked, are in the villages. The Indus valley civilization grew up in the fertile Indus and Gangetic plains of India. It is this agricultural stability which formed the vanguard of India's progress in its march towards self-sufficiency. Agriculture was the mascot of Indian villages. The British who conquered and exploited India could do so only because they were successful in axing down the self-sufficient structure and modality of Indian agriculture and by taxing heavily the poor farmers.

This eventually drained the verdure out of farming and brought the accessory industries to a screeching halt. This wilting has been the undeserving lot of the Indian farmers and eventually they lost even the little they had. As the weather became less predictable, their assets became more perishable. The colonial reign rained only havoc on the agriculture sector. Forcing the dispossessed into a life of slavery, and still huddling heavy taxes on their back, the colonists lead them either to suicide or to imprisonment. During the post-colonial period, their morsel only became bitter as the landlords and the zamindars were only horses of a different colour. It was only when the democratic governance was strengthened that agricultural revolutions clamouring for more food security and farmers' prosperity sprouted in India. The 1961 famine, which claimed numerous lives, sowed the seeds of green revolution in India under the auspices of the government. The implements of this revolution were chemical fertilizers and harmful pesticides. While they increased the production, they also brought in untoward environmental issues and health hazards hitherto unheard of. The greenhouse effect, the depletion of biological diversity and the exhaustion of irreplenishable fuel resources were the major collateral damages. Consequently, there was uproar against the green revolution which was a holocaust on life and nature. Only the farmers bore the brunt of this too. Even though the different governments set up new welfare projects for the farmers which were fruitful to a limit, none of them offered comprehensive solutions. Narendra Modi government, through the Agricultural Bill 2020, braces to deconstruct the age old 2003 APMC

Act and implement a new structure and order in the agricultural sector aimed at doubling the farmers' income by 2022, by establishing order in the unorganized and chaotic farms and markets in order to revive the agricultural market, the bills have timely provisions for interventions and alterations. While the bills encourage more efficiency transparency and implementation of new technology and easier federal market-industry relations, they also aim at increasing the income of the farmers through competitive alternative marketing and by freeing them from the government controlled markets to help them gain better prices for their produce from a wide variety of unconventional markets. The government claims that these revolutionary changes in the agricultural sector will lead to the emergence of new produce and products in the local and global markets, accelerate the construction of new infrastructures through private sector investments and harness new technology and thereby enhance the income of the small scale farmers who form 86% of the population. It is envisioned to accelerate the agriculture growth and intensify the productivity of the land. At this point, it is neither desirable nor helpful to resort to non-cooperation and standoff policies instead of collecting enough information about the potentialities and possibilities of the new projects initiated by the government for the welfare of farmers and bringing that awareness to the public for the sake of the farmers. The prosperity of the farmers who feed the whole country is the prosperity of the country itself. Covid has stunted the growth of several sectors including the agricultural sector. Hopefully, the new agricultural bills enacted by the central government will revive and revitalize the agricultural sector and yield good results.

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