Indian agriculture contributes about 22% to its economy while manufacturing just above and IT about 5%. Agriculture has been languishing on the sidelines as farmers neither have the collective lobby nor the education and capacity to negotiate with the government like the western farmers do. Urban population and rural population are hardly connected except when farmers commit suicide or when onion prices go up. Successive govts have played the "aaam admi" card and have pretended to help the poor farmers.
But their thinking need to change. Mr. Modi needs to turn the popular thinking on its head. He needs to stop treating farmers as a collective poor. Farming is an industry just like IT or manufacturing. PM Modi needs to start treating it similar to a small business. He should stop all the SOPS and subsidies. Restructure farming sector to enable it to grow as below.
Provide incentives for following.
1. Soil testing and using appropriate levels of fertilizers.
2. Integrated Pest Managment strategy for use of chemcials.
3. Use of drip irrigation and fertigation.
4. Use of controlled traffic, minimum tillage rather than deep ripping of soils.
5. Control of weeds through mulching and soil rotation
6. Use of organic matter into soils
7. reducing use of synthetic nitrogen and using legumes to ass biological nitrogen
8. Managing waterways and rivers properly and not let fertilizers and rubbish getting into the rivers causing contamination.
Every farm should be registered as a small business. They needed to be provided with subsidized insurance, tax structure and market based crop growing and management. There should not be any subsides for fertilizer use but only subsidies for soil testing and training.
All irrigation should be made mandatory to do at night. Irrigation should be linked to soil sensors and excess of water usage should be stopped. Farmers should be provided with training for running the farm like a small business. India does not need more farmers it needs farm productivity without increasing land use. Proper use of fertilizers and water will save costs and water too.
If PM Modi treats Agriculture with respect and as an industry he can get the growth going and really help the rural economy to grow. Will he do so?