`Extreme weather, unfavourable market to be blamed '
Noted agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan headed the National Commission on Farmers. Way back in 2005, when the commission submitted its report, it had said that India was staring at an unprecedented agrarian crisis. Swaminathan speaks to Down To Earth
Your report recommended how to improve farmers' condition. Do you see any changes in their condition? Unfortunately, our recommendation, although collated as a national policy for farmers and placed in Parliament, remains yet to be implemented. We are witnessing one of the most distressing events as farmers, in life giving profession, are taking their own lives. This distress is arising from extreme weather events and unfavourable market. In West Bengal, farmers who raised a good potato crop had to take their lives because of very low price offered to them. What are the immediate steps to arrest the situation? Assured and remunerative marketing holds the key to stimulating and sustaining farmers' interest in farming. While technology can help improve crop yield, it is only public policy that can make the economics of farming favourable to farmers. We, therefore, need synergy between technology and public policy.
Today, agriculture faces ecological degradation and land diversion. How do we revive agriculture? Conserve prime farmland by setting up Special Agriculture Zones. Rainwater harvesting should be made mandatory both in farms and at homes. In case of small farms, community water harvesting will help. We can promote equity in water sharing through pani panchayat. Environmentally sound technologies should be devised for fighting pests, pathogens and weeds.