BS Manthan: Finding common ground in the ideologically divided agricultural sector

Since nearly 55 percent of the country’s population is engaged in agriculture and allied activities, according to the 2011 census, the roadmap for a developed India by 2047 must pass through farms. However, the discussions and debates surrounding the agricultural sector and its myriad problems remain stuck within ideological boundaries, making finding common ground a difficult task.

This is where some of the country’s brightest minds in agriculture and allied sectors will deliberate during the two-day Business standard Manthan event scheduled for March 27-28 at Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi.

The panel on the role of agriculture in a developed India in 2047, which will be held on March 28 (the second day of deliberations), promises to conduct a thorough review of the country’s agriculture sector and also reflect on the future of it.

NITI Aayog member and noted agricultural economist Ramesh Chand, agricultural economist Ashok Gulati, and the voice of farmers, Chairman of Bharat Krishak Samaj (Farmers’ Forum India) Ajay Vir Jakhar will be part of the esteemed panel.

The demand for a legally guaranteed minimum support price, the growing climatic challenges facing agriculture, the thorny issue of declining or stagnant yields in various crops, the challenge of feeding a growing population with limited resources, the technological challenges in agriculture and the push for digitalization will all be part of the fascinating 45-minute discussion.

The fact that the share of agriculture and allied activities in India’s annual gross domestic product has declined over the years, while the population dependent, directly or indirectly, on agriculture has not declined to the same extent, which has resulted in millions of people working in unproductive, low-wage jobs is a challenge that several economists and commentators have found difficult to address over the years.

Driving more people out of agriculture and into skilled jobs would require substantial investments in the rural non-farm sector. At the same time, agriculture must be made productive and profitable for growers.

The latest Situational Assessment Survey (SAS) of 2018-2019 shows that for an average agricultural household, the share of income from agriculture has fallen from 48 percent in 2012-2013 to 38 percent, while that of wages has increased from 48 percent. percent to 38 percent. In the same period the percentage increased from 32.2 percent to 40.3 percent.

Over the same period, average debt levels have remained fairly consistent.

India’s agriculture sector needs a major overhaul as the country moves towards the cherished goal of becoming a developed country by 2047, which the panel discussions promise to achieve.

First print: March 25, 2024 | 9:34 PM IST