M. S. Swaminathan, father of the green revolution in India has once said, “If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country.”
Unfortunately, this worry seems to be happening in reality these days! Do you know how many farmers want to quit agriculture? Any assumption?
Well, according to a recent media report by the Times of India, nearly 42% of Indian farmers do not want to continue farming and instead wish to settle down in urban areas. And most of those who think that they can’t leave agriculture and settle in the city; they want their children to do the same. As another survey by gaon connection says that, around 48% of farmers do not want their children to continue farming. While 13.9% of farmers claim that they want their children to take up agriculture but the children themselves are not interested. These stats get more horrifying if we include the findings of the survey conducted by CSDS Delhi in 2018. According to ‘down to earth,’ the result of this survey claims that up to 76% farmers in India want to give up farming!
This data is surely horrifying. Isn’t it?
Of course, it is. But the main question here is that if India is an agricultural lead economy, why do so many of its farmers want to give up on farming?
Well, there is not any single factor responsible for farmer’s increasing disinterest in farming, instead, many combining factors contribute to this trend. Those factors include-
1 – Decreasing profit and increasing loss
Most of the farmers who want to quit farming claim that they are running under loss and that’s too is increasing continuously, while many others say that they are getting very little profit compared to the work they do. However, it’s not necessary to be happening the same way. We will discuss more about it later.
2- Search for better opportunities and lifestyle-
There’s a notion in the country that urban life is more luxurious and less hectic. Unfortunately, to some extent it’s true. A huge number of farmers want to move towards the city in search of better opportunities, better medical facilities, and employment. According to a recent media report by live mint, the income of an average farmer is around Rs3,800 per month while even the lowest central government job pays Rs22,000 per month. It is because of this huge difference in the incomes that most farmers are motivating their new generations to focus on getting a job in the city rather than continuing farming. That’s the place where the government needs to focus to prevent migration from rural to urban areas.
3- Changing climatic conditions-
The climate is changing at the highest ever pace and crops are much dependent on it. Higher temperatures can reduce crop productivity and could also increase weed and pest proliferation.
Which in turn reduces the profit of the farmer and thus inspires him to give up on it and look for other sources of income. According to “down-to-earth,” around 70 percent of farmers in a survey said that their crops were destroyed because of unseasonal rains, drought, floods, and pest attacks.
There are many other factors like unavailability of loans, or loans at a higher rate, unawareness from government subsidies and schemes which force the farmers to give up their farms and settle their roots in urban areas.
Why it’s dangerous for the economy.
The increasing disinterest of farmers in agriculture is bad for the economy also, as this sector contributes 18 % to the national income. Thus, a fall in agriculture will definitely cause a fall in the economy. But the more important thing is that agriculture is the biggest source of the food supply in the nation. And if farmers keep on leaving farming at this fast pace, there could be a huge scarcity of food very soon. This would result in a rapid increase in the price of food products which would be a big problem.
Apart from this, Agriculture is also a major source of raw materials for various industries of India. About 50 percent of the total income generated in the manufacturing sector comes from agro-based industries. (source) which means the fall in agriculture would decrease the availability of raw materials and thus increase the cost of products made by these industries. Thus, the farmer’s decreasing interest in agriculture will lead to overall inflation.
It’s bad for the farmers too…
This disinterest of farmers in agriculture is bad not only for the economy but it will affect the farmers too. First of all, there is already so much unemployment and cut-throat competition in India, that even many highly educated youngsters are also struggling to get a job. Thus, it won’t be easy for farmers too to find good jobs.
Second thing is that many new technological innovations are also under progress in the agriculture sector too and many companies are diligently working to provide modern farming equipment at a low price as possible. Also, many Government and private agencies and various NGOs are also aiming at increasing the productivity of farmers. On the other hand, the demand for food is continuously increasing but the number of farmers isn’t. Hence, we can say that farming is again going to become a business of massive profit pretty soon.
So how can we change the situation?
Now as we know that the separation of farmers from the field is bad for both the nation and the farmers too. Now the question is how can we change the situation? The answer lies in the following points
1 – By providing better knowledge and advisory
Knowledge is power. If you give a poor man a fish, it will feed him for that day only, but if you teach him how to catch a fish, he will never sleep hungry again. The same applies to agriculture also. Most farmers don’t know the modern and scientific ways of farming. And thus, providing them valuable information and advisory by agricultural experts would definitely increase their profit.
At Gramophone, we have a team of expert agronomists for the same purpose, the farmers can take any advice they need through our mobile app or the toll-free number.
2- By providing seeds with better quality at affordable rates
Many farmers complain that the seeds they purchase from various sources cost them too much and still doesn’t provide a guarantee of better production. The government can handle this issue by controlling the prices of seeds and deciding some criteria for their quality too.
The government also needs to be aware of farmers about its schemes, as more than 60 percent of farmers are unaware of the minimum support price (MSP) set by the government. (source)
3- Live weather forecast.
Another major problem faced by farmers is an unexpected change in the climate. And providing live weather forecasts can help them to take necessary actions on time. Doing this, they can prevent their crops from the unexpected changes in climate like unseasonal rain or fog. Although there are platforms to know the weather updates, most of them provide common weather updates of the whole nation or state. But farmers need to know the weather forecast of their particular area so that they can take actions accordingly.
Although it’s true that many farming families had left agriculture for the search of better opportunities in the past few years, and that would have a big impact on the economy of our country. But things are changing now. Not only the government is now focusing more on the agriculture sector, but many new agriculture-based start-ups are also coming forward to help farmers in increasing their profit. The advancement and innovations in Agri-tech would help them in reducing their cost and thus increasing their profit. Thus, we can say that agriculture is soon going to become a huge money-generating business and it will open a lot of opportunities for other industries too.
*image source – The Indian Express