After seven decades of analysis, we know what ails Indian agriculture. That does not mean anything will change.
Our discussion on Indian agriculture identified many of the problems in Indian agriculture, and came up with solutions. There are structural problems with Indian agriculture: no markets in any part of it, and therefore no market signals; a lack of jobs in the economy, and therefore no escape route for farmers; a paternalistic mindset that doesn’t look at empowering farmers but traps them in a cycle of dependency. A number of policy suggestions have been made — and these solutions have been known for decades. The problem is, who will implement them?
The imperatives of our political economy mean that little reform will happen. Farmers are voters. They want paternalism in the short term. There are too many vested interests and too much inertia in the system for change to be likely — unless there is a crisis, which is likely to be a jobs crisis. So yes, things look grim, but as this discussion made clear, it isn’t because of lack of knowledge. We know what the problem is. How do we get there from here?
In case you missed any of the discussion, here are all the posts:
The Crisis in Indian Agriculture — Amit Varma
To Solve the Problem, First Define it — Nitin Pai
Empower Women Farmers — Mrinal Pande
Where are the Markets? — Kumar Anand
The Vicious Cycle of Ignorance and Poverty — Manoj Harit
The Lord of the Farms — Amit Varma
The Agricultural Crisis is a Jobs Crisis — Nitin Pai
Ditch the Paternalism — Kumar Anand
The Way out of the Crisis — Manoj Harit
I thank the participants for taking the time out to write these essays. Our next Brainstorm, on data Protection and Privacy, begins soon. Watch this space!
Also check out the following episodes of The Seen and the Unseen that dealt with different aspects of Indian agriculture:
Episode 1: Entry and Exit in Agriculture
Episode 12: Futures Markets in Agriculture
Episode 20: The Coming Jobs Crisis
Episode 25: Farm-Loan Waivers
Episode 26: The Right to Property