June 1, 2017
Agriculture has been the most regulated sector in India since independence. Governments of all hues and colours have made sure that the Indian farmers cannot cut off the chains and free themselves of various government controls. From buying the seeds and fertilisers to storing, transporting, and selling the produce, farmers are not free to do as they please, possibly with the exception of tilling the soil.
“The agriculture has been the area of least reforms… India does not even have a common market in agricultural produce.”
– Dr Parth J. Shah
Our leaders try to relieve the stress in the agriculture sector by offering sops, loan-waivers, and schemes while not focusing on the fundamental problems in the sector. All the energy of the government in increasing the EoDB is targeted towards registration of companies, ease of cross-border trade, ease in getting water and electricity connections for new businesses, etc. However, the farmers are conveniently ignored by the government as they are not considered businessmen. They are annadata, not people who are engaged in doing agriculture business.
It is high time that we treat our farmers as responsible adults who can take their own decisions and do not need the crutches of the government to stand. That can only be ensured by enabling them to do their business on their own terms. This would involve letting them choose which crops to grow, which inputs to use, whom to sell to and how to use their land. If the Ambanis and Tatas are allowed to enter freely into contracts of buying, selling or renting land, why not a farmer? If they can sell to any customer, domestic or international, at a mutually agreeable price, why not a farmer? If they can buy the latest technologies, why can’t a farmer get access to modern seeds?