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National Issues
A G R I C U L T U R E  : P R O D U C T I V I T Y

Culture conflicts; of the agri kind
Agricultural output has declined considerably since the year 2000...

   The total output of foodgrains in 1999-2000 Culture Conflicts amounted to 212 million tonnes as against 209 million tonnes estimated for the current fiscal. Reading between the lines, the statistics unfold an extremely grim outlook with the rice harvest standing at 87.8 million tonnes against a produce of 93.3 million tonnes in 1999-2000. Wheat has done no better with a 73 million tonne output as opposed to 76 million tonnes registered in 1999-00. The output in other agricultural sub-sectors is similarly low.

Farmer suicides, which have plagued the farmlands of India clearly contradict the tall claims of the Finance Minister about stupendous GDP growth and rising living standards. The reasons remain the same and the respite has also been elusive. So while the suicide figures cross the 1,000 mark, the main issues continue to be sidelined by planners. Thankfully India Inc. is providing a ray of hope...

The Planning Commission, in its Tenth Plan mid-term appraisal has elucidated the banes of the agricultural sector, which are primitive farming techniques, a public investment of 0.3% of the GDP and a perennial monsoon dependency beyond 40%. Additionally, the infrastructural bottlenecks, along with exploitive middlemen, discourage the Indian farming community from moving beyond tradition into the realm of agricultural entrepreneurship. The targeted growth rate of 4% in agriculture (as was envisaged in the National Agricultural Plan, 2000) will continue to remain a subject of endless discussion and debate over zillions of cups of tea during the "working hours" of a dormant, incorrigible "government" employee.

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