The concept of cheaper food should not endanger the lives of the farming community, said Devinder Sharma, a food and trade policy analyst.

Delivering a lecture on the way forward for Indian agriculture at the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Sharma emphasised that productivity-oriented agricultural income alone would not augment the income of farmers.

Punjab experience

“Despite assured irrigation and achieving highest productivity in the country, farmers in Punjab took this extreme end,” he said and highlighted the economic disparity between farm income and income from other sectors.

“There is almost a 150 times jump in income in other sectors, while it is only 19 times in agriculture. At this rate, the deserving price per quintel of rice should be ₹5,100 as against ₹1,410 now. The balance, if credited to the farmer’s account would greatly increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country by way of consumptive pattern among the 52 per cent of Indian population,” Sharma said.

“Writing off ₹3-lakh crore farm subsidy would be small compared with the loans waived as non-performing assets. Subsidies are incentives to farmers,” he said and stressed the need for evolving a mechanism to boost farm income in comparison to the public and private sectors.

“The administrators and leaders should make genuine effort to shift the farmers economy from its present status and make it more viable. They should also consider direct credit to farmer’s account,” he added.