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PM needs better advice on agriculture
Business Line, India Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sharad Joshi
The current rate of farm growth needs to increase well beyond the arbitrary figure of 4 per cent. For that, the Government must reconsider its position on genetically modified crops. The inclusive growth policy of the Government leads to free lunches and kills the spirit of enterprise, writes Sharad Joshi in Business Line.

On June 19, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in his convocation address at the Pantnagar University in Uttarakhand, emphasised the importance of increasing agricultural production to meet the demand of an increasing population, ensure food security and bridge the production stress created by climate change.


He went on to exhort that we need to double farm production and take the rate of agricultural growth from around 2 per cent per annum to 4 per cent.


I have been hearing about this 4 per cent target rate of growth for the agricultural sector since the early 1990s.

... ...

Agronomists have been talking about the 4 per cent rate of growth for agriculture when the Indian economy followed the “Hindu” rate of growth of 3 per cent in the epoch of socialism. At that time, obviously, the belief was that the rate of agricultural growth should be, at least, marginally higher than the rate of growth of the GDP.

... ... ...

So, what is this 4 per cent all about? It is only the simple arithmetical average of the agricultural rates of growth as projected by individual States. I was taken aback to learn that the wise men in the Planning Commission had not even made an attempt to calculate a weighted average for arriving at the national goal.

It did not correspond to the actual rate of growth experienced in any of the States of the Union either.
... ...

The Prime Minister is also reported to have said that there has been no technological breakthrough after the Green Revolution of the 1960s. The Green Revolution technology essentially consisted of a new variety of “hybrid” seeds that responded well to incremental doses of water, nutrients and pest management.


If only the Prime Minister had consulted the agricultural scientists present at the convocation in Pantnagar, they would have given him advice quite different from the one given by his Minister of State for Environment and Forests on the question of opening the doors to GM technology in food products.

... ...

It is high time somebody informed the Prime Minister that many of the programmes of ‘inclusive growth' are, in fact, promoting an ethos of addiction to free lunches, free medical treatment, and free education, not linked with any additional effort on enterprise.

... ...

If the UPA continues to put that spirit at a discount, block the advancement of frontier technologies and hamper sophisticated forms of agricultural marketing, it could lead to an actual deceleration in agriculture. India would lose an opportunity to attain an overall GDP rate of growth of 14-15 per cent, led by the agriculture engine.

This article was published in the Business Line on Wednesday, June 30, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Mr Joshi is founder, Shetkari Sanghatana (Farmers' Organisation) & Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
Tags- Find more articles on - agriculture | inclusive growth

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