Monday, June 30, 2014

The disconnect between economy and agriculture

Agriculture is supposed to be the backbone of the Indian economy. But, we do not see agriculture actually contributing to growth of the economy in a big way. There are several reasons for the bad performance of this sector, of which the disconnect between the market and the agriculture is one of the reason, and the least attention given especially in those drought prone areas, where the farmers have to face the uncertainties of rainfall. 

The picture below just gives the glimpse of the loss that I am talking about. It is a story of Mr. Nitin Gofne, who is a farmer from Jaoli village in Phaltan - a taluka (block) from the Satara district of Maharashtra. The area has been in the grip of severe drought for the last two years. His Ox is left free to graze his farm plot, in which he had grown tomatoes. A commodity that requires a lot of water. You might be wondering, why did he grow where water is already so scarce? Well most of the people in the village do not have other source of income apart from farming. Two years of continuous drought (and probably being a drought area) has left them with no income from farming. He grew tomatoes with a hope that it will give him those additional cash to grow other crops from the sale of tomatoes, and help him revive his financial situation. But the fall in tomato price in the market left him in a loss, so the result he being unable to make those additional cash and make up for the loss of income during the drought. 

How did I end up meeting him? I was there with an organisation to help them assess the groundwater aquifer in that village, ended up talking to him and getting to know his sad story. But what can be the solution to this? There is no fixed price and all those water used in growing those tomatoes is all gone waste. Such situations cannot help to strengthen our agriculture nor is it a sustainable use of our natural resource. It will keep fueling the never ending cycle of migration of people from rural to urban. I feel we need to bridge this gap by bringing market to these farmers, so that they get the right price for the products they grow, right advise at the right time on the type of crop to be grown based on available water resource; especially when they use those valuable resource of water from the ground. Is it not possible to use the current mobile technology/ revolution for making that connect!?!

Mr. Nitin, a young farmer from Joali village, Satara.

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