Let Farmers decide

This year brings new hope for farmers, who continue to hope that India will benefit from monsoons and strengthen the agricultural diversity of regions with good output. Like our counterparts in other countries, Indian farmers have evolved over the years and adopted new techniques and adapted themselves to science based farming methods to overcome various farm challenges to innovate and improve their farm productivity.
With a focus on increasing the return on farm investment and improving the purchasing power and standard of living with better income, today Indian farmers are adopting progressive thinking, hoping that they will be supported by a positive ecosystem.
Over the years, advancement in science and technology has brought about revolutionary changes in many sectors and in all walks of life. Agriculture benefited from one such step; way back in 1960s during Green Revolution era when high yielding varieties / hybrid seeds and advanced inputs of fertilisers, pesticides, and irrigation provided huge growth to the farm sector. Our farmers created history by transforming ourselves from being an importer to net exporter of farm products.
Today, current breakthrough innovations in agriculture such as better seeds, advanced farm machineries for cultivation and harvesting; to new age information tools in the form of drones, weather bureaus are revolutionising the agriculture sector globally. However, in India, while we are embracing new technologies in every sphere of our lives, sadly the adoption rate of new age technology is slower in agriculture of late.
Today’s progressive farmers are always looking out for new techniques and methods which will help them increase their productivity. As a farmer, I feel that no one should come between farmers and new technology as we have the right to access new technology and the right to decide whether to use it or not. We the farmers may be poor & not have formal education. But we are wise enough to judge which technology is good, which one is beneficial and which one suits us. If a technology suits us we are too willing to roll out the red carpet to welcome it. If it doesn’t we have no hesitation to show the exit gate. Let our rights not be influenced by external elements. In the recent past, decisions related to farming are taken on the basis of the personal perceptions of few individuals and organisations. It is appalling that people who are no way connected with farming, have been given the privilege to make agriculture related decisions.

India has a huge potential to be an innovation hub given the young talent pool and opportunities. We can not only achieve food security by being a research-focused economy, but also can become potentially the largest agricultural exporters given the second largest arable land globally endowed with seasonality enabling cropping cycle round the year. With Narendra Modi’s vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2023, we need encouragement from the policy makers to bring in scientific farming methods and other innovative initiatives. As a farmer, I need public and private companies to invest in R&D and conduct research not just in labs but also in fields as well. This will not only bridge the gap between lab and land at an accelerated phase but also the efficacies of the technologies could be tested and assessed by competent personalities and research bodies at the field level before it is made available for commercial use.
While the Central government has announced several schemes and initiatives for farming community to bridge the hurdles and gaps in the growth of country’s agricultural sector, it is important that these schemes and initiatives are implemented well at ground level with strict checks and balances at block-level across the country in order to bring the desired change of improving farm productivity. If this is done, farmers will benefit immensely which will boost their confidence and thereby help India produce enough food not only for domestic consumption but also will alleviate global hunger and malnutrition.
I assure you, farmers are always looking for new ways to enhance their productivity and improve their income and standard of living. I strongly feel we need to be given the opportunity of accessing modern technologies, and allow demand and supply to determine prices including rational policies to promote export markets for our products instead of inconsistent trade policies impacting our produce prices.
(The writer is a third-generation farmer from Tamil Nadu and a member of the Global Farmer Network in Iowa and a recipient of the Kleckner Award 2013)