Final report on Draft National Policy for Farmers to be presented in October
State-level consultations already held in many StatesFarmers face difficulties mostly in production, marketingYouth should be encouraged to take up farming
CHENNAI: `Learn from the masses before teaching them!' These words appear to be the guiding principle of the high-powered National Commission on Farmers (NCF) headed by renowned scientist M.S. Swaminathan, in shaping the final report on the Draft National Policy for Farmers.
As the commission proposes to present its final report to the Government in October, it has been holding a series of meetings and separate consultations with representatives of farmers, particularly women, non-Governmental organisations, Agriculture Universities and media in different parts of the country to elicit feedback.
State level consultations had already been held in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
The NCF consultation with farmer achievers held in Chennai on Monday presented an opportunity to the farmers' representatives including 18 award winners belonging to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Karnataka to present their comments and suggestions through lively debates on the national policy.
Among the participants were winners of the Karshakashri Award, National Award for Drought Resistant Lemon Graft, Jagjivan Ram Puraskar and N.G. Ranga Farmer's Award for Diversified Agriculture.
Dr. Swaminathan said the NCF attached great importance to the meeting, where the achievers narrated the difficulties faced by them in production and marketing. Though some of their recommendations related to practical problems, others centred on larger policy issues. Their views would be taken into consideration while revising the policy, he added.
Credit facilities, particularly for women farmers, insurance cover and marketing problems were among the common problems faced by the agriculturists. Creating multiple sources of income such as animal husbandry, weaving and agro-tourism in some parts of the country had prevented the farmers from falling into despondency, he said.
Dr. Swaminathan was of the view that these achievers could become a small hub in their own locality so that they could share their experience and knowledge with others.
Atul Sinha and Y.C. Nanda, Member Secretary and Member of the NCF, stressed the need for creating a situation to enable agriculture regain its pride of place in the country.
This could be achieved only by attracting youth to farming, they opined.
Steps to procure the entire produce even while extending minimum support price, make required quantity of quality inputs available, give awards to motivate farmers for devising deterrents to keep wild animals away from farms and ensure supply of proper voltage of power for at least 20 hours a day in the villages were among the suggestions made by delegates from Maharashtra.
The need for subsidy on electricity, spreading the success stories, recognition of farmers by instituting awards by the Government, setting up of demonstration farms, providing social security schemes, ensuring farmers' rights on crop choice, granting permission of micro level power generation, evolving Government-sponsored youth force for taking up agricultural operations and running farm schools with State support were recommended by the Kerala team of farmers.
Importance of transparency in the Government schemes in the agriculture sector, replacing outdated technologies such as motors used by fishermen, participation of more farmers in the monthly meetings convened by Collectors and enhancing the quality of extension service were some of the recommendations made by the team from Tamil Nadu.