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  • Q. Three critical challenges for Indian agriculture?

    A. Profitability of production system to farmers, influence of climate change, and the unstable long term policies of agriculture are the key challenges. These challenges do not all fit into research challenges but the first one is purely economical, the second is a researchable issue and the third is political.
  • Q. What three steps would you recommend to address these challenges?

    A. Three steps that can be advocated to address these challenges are: First the consolidation of land, either through cooperation or land sharing company formation, must be assured. The second is being addressed by ICAR but in the most haphazard manner. The National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), which is planned by organizations to meet the challenges of climate change, will deliver nothing in future as the funds only end up in the pockets of the organisers. Will someone tell the ICAR that their job is to back up countrys’ research in agriculture through basic and strategic research? Have they invented any of their own gene for commercial use or come out with any chemical molecule for control of pests and weeds? The third step is the clutches of laws that Indian agriculture is in. We do not have a long term policy on export, import and biotech. today the use of GM in country is decided not by the users of the technology but all those who have neither seen crops closely nor been in the farming sector for generations. There is scope of improvement if policies are tested with farmers for a certain period and then allowed to be established.
  • Q. Agriculture is becoming less remunerative and people are turning away from it. Your views?

    A. I agree that the business is becoming less remunerative I think the solution lies in collective farming as in cooperatives; it has proved disaster in many northern states. Unless we increase the size of holding it will not be remunerative.
  • Q. Mechanisation in India remains low - and adds to the shrinking labour force - causing stress on the productivity in field. What is your recommendation?

    A. Mechanization is low and not possible mainly because of small land holdings. Added to this is a labour issue as nobody desires to work in the field. Now in this situation let us see the recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Supreme Court. The members of the committee are renowned molecular biologists but lack the basic knowledge of farming. No labour is available for weeding the crops in the poorest districts of Maharashtra. What the TEC suggests is no herbicide tolerant biotech crops are permitted. Have the committee seen the record of cost of weeding in crops or cost of harvesting the crops in recent years? They simply made the report based on their interpretation of details gathered from various sources.
  • Q. What are the three major interventions government should initiate to make Indian farmers empowered?

    A. Remove restriction on land holding and allow those who have the potential to invest and improve acquired land for agriculture purpose only. Government must stop all subsidies and instead, create infrastructure for water, power, road, communication and marketing. And lastly, give freedom to farmers to choose the technologies. Do not insist that organic or biotech farming is good, let them choose from cafeteria of technologies .If labour is an issue why should he go for organic farming, which is labour intensive.
  • Q. How do you think implementation of Food Security Bill will impact agriculture?

    A. We have made a mess of agriculture as a system by the bill. The impact has been spelt by many and the Ministry of Agriculture opposed it in the interest of farmers. This will further ruin our workers in the farm as they would be interested in getting free food than work. Even farmers are entitled to this and they are questioning as to why to cultivate land. Such bills show the importance of vote bank before farmers and we will make people habitual beggars, losing interest to work and earn and subsequently depending us on food arrival as was done prior to green revolution.
  • Q. Why do we need biotech in agriculture?

    A. I am ardent follower of biotechnology, which has given a new ray of hope to farming and also created jobs for the youth. We are killing its potential. It could be as good as IT.

    Dr Mayee spoke exclusively to Surabhi Mishra of Indiagri. Send in your inputs at info@indiagri.in.

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info@indiagri.in
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EDITOR'S NOTE

13 Jul 2020

Uniting India's farmers: FPOs will strengthen the rural economy

The proposed creation of ten thousand new Farmers’ Producer Organizations (FPOs) until 2023-24 by the government is a big step in the right direction. The empowerment of farmers in a country where 86 perce