Lopsided farm policy

| Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on January 02, 2018

This refers to the excellent piece, ‘Agriculture market reforms are a must’ by A Narayanamoorthy and P Alli (January 2). The solution lies in a holistic approach to reforms. An example may bring out the glaring disparity. A bank takes deposits at an average cost of 8 per cent per annum and ‘sells’ its product, namely ‘loan’, at 12 per cent per annum. Today’s announcement by SBI about a cut of 30 basis points in its base rate makes a headline. No one talks about a farmer getting ₹4 a kilo of potato when a kilo of potato chips is sold at ₹400 a kilo, or when tomato prices are at a low of ₹5 a kilo at the farm gate, tomato ketchup is sold at ₹100 for 400 ml. Where do the margins go? When product prices go up, is it a crime for the farmer who produces the basic ‘raw material’ to expect a reasonable rise in prices of his produce? The farmer gets all the blame for his inability to repay loans when the real culprit is lopsided government policy.

Meanwhile, ‘cooperative federalism’ should not remain just a slogan. Ongoing consultations between Centre and States should evolve common minimum programmes bringing transparency in concessions and waivers where necessary and cross-subsidisation of costs where unavoidable.

MG Warrier


The involvement of private companies to mitigate agrarian distress is a welcome reform. The constitution of an appropriate and unbiased state agency for registration of contracting firm, recording of agreement, dispute settlement and protecting the interests of farmers and sponsors (firm/companies) of contract farming will help farmers benefit from a pre-agreed future price for their produce,. However, it is necessary to ensure that the sponsoring company is able to plan for processing, marketing and export based on pre-agreed quantity and quality of the contractual price. The law should not become yet another policy tool for the Government to arm-twist private players.

Shreyans Jain


Focus on agriculture

This is with reference to ‘Expect a budget for angry Bharat’ by TV Jayan and Rutam Vora (January 2). Agriculture has received only patchy support . The basic measures that need to be engineered immediately include the expansion of MSP coverage down to pulses, dynamic pricing mechanisms, streamlining and relaxation of rules and procedures for crop insurance, declutching the application and operations of MGNREGA from corrupt officials and middle-men and shedding continuous policy focus apolitically on this primary sector.

The creation of agro-based skill development centres in rural areas will improve farming methods, impart livelihood and reduce migration of labour. Irregular reimbursement of subsidies to fertiliser companies impedes operational efficiency. The entire governmental machinery still uses text-book solutions; to recommendations of various committees are yet to see light.

B Rajasekaran


Another cup of tea

This refers to your editorial, ‘The hero arrives’ (January 2). Rajinikanth’s decision to plunge into politics is timely. But he could have started a political party now instead of launching it prior to the Assembly elections. That would have further strengthened the trust his followers repose in him. Dravidian rule institutionalised corruption and lured people with freebies instead of pursuing developmental activities leading to job creation. Rajinikanth may enjoy demi-god status but politics is a different ball game.

Srinivasan Velamur


Though Rajinikanth has good intentions and no baggage, in a country where caste, communal, regional and religious factors evoke more reaction and empathy than governance, his soft politics may not be able to stand up to the rigours of a volatile political atmosphere. Even heavyweights like Kamaraj, Karunanidhi, MGR and Jayalalithaa had many setbacks. In politics one has to adjust to remain afloat. A superstar may find it difficult to make compromises.

V Subramanian



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Published on January 02, 2018
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