Ever since my childhood days, I was repeatedly and irrevocably taught that “Farming is the Backbone of India” and I’ve never questioned it. It seemed obvious, everybody needs food ergo nation needs farmers. But as is normal, the public perception of things are erroneous in a plethora of ways.
Agriculture has found an especially novel area in the hearts of today’s teens. It’s an actual pop phenomenon, nobody these days could produce a movie without a message on farming. It would seem that everybody’s got a sweet spot for farmers and an exceptionally strong penchant for the “healthy” lives in farms and villages.
With all the talks of agricultural subsidies and “help the poor and honest farmer” and whatnots. It’s hard to neglect the problem of agriculture as trivial. With more than 53% of the population engaged in farming and agriculture-related activities, It’s easier for politicians to hit it home by swaying the agriculture sector.
But, the real question that nobody asks is that, Does farming provide actual value? Of course, everybody needs food. No denying that. But is it justified that farmers are encouraged from all sides and the younger generation are taking a liking for it?
The terse answer is no.
India had its highest ever foodgrain production of 275.3 MT in 2016-17 and again beating the record in 2017-18 with a produce of 277.49 MT, based on The Press Information Bureau of India report. How is it that when it seems that farmers are getting succumbed to their fight to continue farming, that we are giving record breaking produce?
This graph by tradingeconomics from the world bank data shows the decline in farmlands.
Around mid-2012, reducing farmlands was a hot topic. Many were predicting a food crisis. yet, here we are full and fine with more foodgrains than ever. It seems paradoxical right? reducing farmlands equals increased production. It’s like saying to reduce global population you should protect more people from diseases and provide a better life to them. and Yet, they’re both true.
This improvement is mostly attributed to the government’s ability to organize resources in specific areas and not spreading itself too thin. Increased fertilizers and pesticides have also helped.
Farming is extremely dependent and unpredictable. A single drought season or a single pest problem could bring everything that the farmer toiled for months to nought. Farming doesn’t provide any career prospects either. It’s this dicey unpredictability that is preventing the private sector investment in this sector. Below graph is the contribution of agriculture on total GDP by indiaspend.
You won’t hear anyone in India actually preaching that farmers should migrate and find living in cities. It’s an unspoken law that farming should be treated with utmost reverence and anything that defies is banished.
China, on the other hand, espouses the idea that farmers leave their farmlands. They provide supports for migration. The Chinese government provides training on skills such as building or cooking and provide travel credits to move people to cities. This is one of the reasons why central ruling power is better than societies.
India has an economic growth rate of 7.44% which is so far ahead that, nations like England with 0.2% and America with 3.8% can’t do anything but gape. But, the problem is that we are coupled with a slow-growing and sometimes even deteriorating farming sector.
It is not possible to fight malnutrition and illiteracy by having half the population stuck in villages depending on unpredictable farming for their bread and butter. it will only lead to poorly developed schemes like, special assistance schemes and subsidised products. Which is not a show of a developing economy. But, of a degrading one. If people are expecting a Robin of the Hood (Government) To get the money from the rich and give to the poor, it can be concluded that it is anything but healthy.
It’ll only get worse by all this popularising and making patriots out of farmers. People should get it that, contrary to popular belief farming is not essential.
India doesn’t need more farmers we have more than enough of those. What India needs is bright and talented youngsters. Moving away from parochial villages and help build a better world, not by producing crops but by producing knowledge.