Holistic approach to farming can mitigate agrarian crisis: M S Swaminathan

Scientist highlights the failure of agricultural universities in India

By Jitendra
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Farmers inspect crops damaged by hailstorm

M S Swaminathan, well-known agricultural scientist, has flagged the issue of absence of integrated advice for farmers trapped in agrarian crisis. To address the growing dichotomy between farmers’ needs and the response of government and farm universities, the scientist has suggested some measures.

Known as the father of green revolution in India, Swaminathan believes the agricultural universities which were meant to provide integrated advice are now fragmented and running in silos, thus deepening the existing crisis.

Through a press note, the scientist has called for more attention from the government on fundamental issues that surround farmers and urged for more holistic approach to farming in order to address the scenario.

The suggestions came in the backdrop of the prevailing agrarian crisis across north and central India due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm.

Swaminathan also urged that it was time to look at the fundamental problems faced by farmers. The press release states that 150 years ago, the US started Land Grant colleges, based on the Morrill Act of 1862 and 1890. “We adopted this model of looking at farming in a holistic way, i.e. crop, livestock, fish, agro-forestry and agro-processing as the mandate for our agricultural universities which number 62 now,” the says.

He further adds, “Unfortunately, both in the organisation of agricultural universities and departments, responsibilities are getting fragmented. The agriculture university which was to serve farmers on a farming system basis has now been split into veterinary, animal sciences, fisheries and horticulture universities.”

The note also mentions, “Thus neither from the research, nor from the extension and development sides, farmers now get integrated advice covering conservation of natural resources, cultivation on the evergreen revolution pattern, consumption and commerce. There is thus a growing dichotomy between farmers’ needs and the response of government and farm universities.”
Swaminathan emphasised on the integration of fragmented institutions which would end the existing dichotomy in need and response to the agriculture.

“Among the problems faced by farming families, the absence of a system of integrated advice and help is a serious one. Time has come to restore the original concept of farm universities viz to carryout research, education and extension on a farming system basis, since this will help in providing both farm and non-farm incomes, thereby saving farmers from total income collapse.”

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  • The government must build

    The government must build storage & drying facilities to overcome unseasonal rains.

    The government must encourage traditional animal husbandry based farming system to minimize the risk.

    The government must see that farmers get minimum support price -- this must be made mandatory to pay through checks/DDs.

    Government must create farmers corporations -- avoid middlemen -- to export what they produce like rice, cotton, etc.

    Government departments must look at the past agriculture farming and develop strategies including crop-wise boards.

    Government must encourage cooperative farming at village and mandal levels. This will reduce the risk and bring down drastically the input costs and help better utilization of natural resources based on weather conditions. At present in India, we are wasting 40-50% of food and according the natural resources to that extent.

    Government must stop wasting public money to get votes under the pretext of loan waiver schemes -- large part of it goes in to the pockets of politicians-bureaucrats-banks

    Dr. S. Jeevanda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 5 years ago | Reply
  • Crocodile tears from the

    Crocodile tears from the destroyer of Indian agriculture! What a shameful irony that he is allowed to be the Chairman of National Commission on Farmers i.e criminal acting the judge!!

    As long as people like these are patronised, durbhiksham, maranam and bhayam will prevail as Skanda Purana warns w.r.t respecting the undeserving and vice-versa!

    Let Subhash Palekar(or even Srimati Vandana Shiva) who is a true Bharat-Ratna(who cares about that politically manipulated award) cast in the mould of the likes of another ratna J.C.Kumarappa have something to do with agricultural advising!

    Posted by: Anonymous | 5 years ago | Reply
  • A Perspective on emancipating small and marginal farmers in India

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    A lot of water has flown under the bridge about how farmers can sustainably conduct agriculture and arrest migration of their youngsters to urban areas. To find a solution we need to put one's shoulder on the wheel.
    We should not expect the Government to solve all the problems. Governments can only fill in when tasks that are huge and complex, like road connectivity to markets, a storage facility for crops, irrigation to reach every land in the village, government purchases directly from farmers that can maximise revenue. The rest must remain in the farmer’s domain.
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    The key advantages that will be:
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    2. Farmers will work for wages like an Industrial worker for the entire year.
    3. Profits (after providing for reserve) will go as dividends to shareholders at the end of the year.
    4. The accumulated reserve will serve for community building education and health.
    5. Those without lands can also be gainfully employed.
    6. One good startup will ignite passion in all villages in the country.
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    S. Raghavan


    Posted by: Raghavan Srinivasan | one year ago | Reply