Agri Business

It is important to give farmers the power of scale: MS Swaminathan

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on July 22, 2020

MS Swaminathan

Agricultural scientist says there is still a long way to go in ensuring that the primary producer gets a fair and reliable price

The Centre recently ushered in agricultural marketing reforms giving farmers the choice to sell outside the regulated market yards (APMC mandis). Eminent agricultural scientist Prof M S Swaminathan, Chairman, National Commission on Farmers, says agri-marketing reform measures are potentially beneficial, but there is still a long way to go in ensuring a fair and reliable price for producers. Excerpts from an e-mail interaction:

What are your views on the agri-marketing reforms introduced by the Centre?

The agri-marketing reforms are potentially beneficial, but we still have to go a long way in ensuring that the primary producer gets a fair and reliable price. We need to introduce a farmer-centric single-nation marketing system.

How will these reforms impact farmers, especially small farmers?

The monsoon and the market are the two major determinants of the well-being of the farmer. Therefore, farmers will always welcome reforms that improve their lives and livelihoods.

There is a perception that with these reforms, farmers will be more exposed to market volatility. Will farmers be forced to rely on income support than on price support?

Market volatility can be regulated by the government. In any case, income support, which will be a source of reliable and steady income, will always be better for farming.

Farmer groups say these reforms will lead to corporatisation of Indian agriculture and to monopoly.

Reforms can always help or hinder. It is our duty to ensure that they help; for this, some regulation in favour of the farmers is essential.

Will these reforms help farmers tide over the agrarian distress?

Agrarian distress is due to many reasons. What is important is to strengthen the basic infrastructure of agriculture, particularly post-harvest technology and post-harvest management, which can give the small farmer some staying power. Further, similar to the Amul pattern of milk cooperatives, it is important to give farmers the power of scale.

Published on July 22, 2020

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