Experts see fall in farm profitability

Special Correspondent

Globalisation blamed for major crisis

CHANDIGARH: With profitability of the farm sector having fallen drastically after the economic reforms were ushered in and the country began implementing the provisions of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement, it is high time the governments at the Centre and States step in to check the deceleration of agriculture and pauperisation of the farmers.

This unanimity of opinion was articulated by a galaxy of experts in the fields of economics, agriculture and social sciences who were here to take part in a round-table session on “Agrarian crisis and food security in India” organised by the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC) over the weekend.

Noted economist and Professor Emeritus at Jawaharlal Nehru University, G. S. Bhalla, warned the country’s political leadership against glossing over the nine per cent growth figures. He said the previous NDA regime had stumbled over the “India shining” syndrome.

He went on to explain that the farm sector had not gained ever since the Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation (LPG) regime was unleashed on the country. By quoting increased volumes, an attempt was being made to hide the continuing gap between imports and exports in agriculture, he charged.

Former Union Minister and renowned economist Y. K. Alagh asserted that unless the profitability of the farm sector increased, there would be no major investments in the new technologies that make agriculture more efficient and competitive. He said the profitability of agriculture had fallen by 14 per cent since the reforms regime was introduced.

Lack of farm policy

Handing out a stern warning against anti-grain policies of some experts and policy makers, IDC Director Pramod Kumar expressed concern over the lack of a properly framed Agriculture Policy. He hit out at the skewed prescription of diversification of cropping patterns, corporatisation of agriculture and shifting the small-marginal farmers.

Another noted economist, H.S. Shergill, was highly critical of “ad hoc stance” of the Centre and State governments as he pointed out the case of the Punjab Government which five years ago, driven by a set of experts, had sought funds to reduce production.

“The situation has arrived when the Union Government, through its National Food Security Mission, is now pumping crores to ward off a scarcity crisis,” he added.

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