The #Swaminathan Report: “If #Agriculture fails, everything else will fail”

Armed with sticks and rocks, thousands of #farmers across the #country are protesting against the new #FarmLaws passed by the Parliament in September. #President of India – Ram Nath Kovind had given his assent and signed the legislation of the three Farm Bills – Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020; The Farmer (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on 27th September, 2020.

Check out the links https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av4o3P5alcY and https://www.thenewshamster.com/farmers-protest-the-reason-behind-this-escalating-situation/ as #NewsHamster explains about the positive as well the negative impact of the three farm bills.

The recent uprisings also represent their agitation over a range of issues like- #LandAllocation deals, #LoanWaivers, #SuicideRates and #MinimumSupportPrice (MSP). In fact, India has witnessed a substantial rise in #agrarian related #distress, #clashes and #riots over the past few years. As per data from 2014 to 2018, there have been more than 13,000 protests by farmers on various agrarian issues.

While the government tried justifying their rulings by stating that these ordinances will enable acceleration and adoption of a freer and more flexible system for both parties involved. While, the farmers argued that in the garb of these ordinances, the government is instead trying to do away with the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime.

Therefore they demand for- firstly, a #RollBack of all the three ordinances, secondly- the #Mandi system to remain in place and thirdly, their #Loans to be cleared. The fourth demand lies along the 2006 #Swaminathan report by The National Commission on Farmers- which states that a law should be made for MSP to be at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production and if the MSP is not paid, it should be a punishable crime. And finally, they are also demanding for a law guaranteeing payments from the buyers through #arhtiyas (middlemen) that has always been the norm to ensure that bands don’t deduct the money in the name of loan recovery.

So what is the ‘#SwaminathanReport’ about?

The #NationalCommissionOnFarmers (NCF) was constituted on November 18, 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan. They submitted five reports through the period December 2004- October 2006. Following from the first four, the final report focused on causes of famer distresses and the rise in farmer suicides, and recommends addressing them through a holistic #NationalPolicy for farmers. The reports contain suggestions to achieve the goal of “#faster and more #inclusive growth” as envisaged in the Approach to #11thFiveYearPlan.

The findings and recommendations of the report include issues of access to resources and #SocialSecurityEntitlements.

Some of the main recommendations include:

  1. “#Agriculture” should be inserted in the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
  2. Distribute #ceiling-surplus and #WasteLands;
  3. Prevent diversion of prime agricultural land and forest to corporate sector for non-agricultural purposes.
  4. Establish a #NationalLandUseAdvisoryService, which would have the capacity to link land use decisions with ecological meteorological and marketing factors on a location and season specific basis.
  5. Increase water supply through rainwater harvesting and recharge of the aquifer should become mandatory. “#MillionWellsRecharge” programme, specifically targeted at private wells should be launched.
  6. Substantial increase in investment in irrigation sector under the 11th Five Year Plan apportioned between large surface water systems; minor irrigation and new schemes for groundwater recharge.
  7. Substantial increase in public investment in agriculture related infrastructure particularly in irrigation, drainage, land development, water conservation, research development and road connectivity etc.

It also acts as a reference point and highlights key findings about #LandReforms, #Irrigation, #Credit and insurance, #FoodSecurity, #Employment, #ProductivityOfAgriculture and #FarmerCompetitiveness.

Few of the key recommendations among the following are:

  1. Expanding the outreach of the #FormalCreditSystem to reach the really poor and needy. Promote #SustainableLivelihoods for the poor by improving (i) Financial services (ii) Infrastructure (iii) Investments in human development, agriculture and business development services (including productivity enhancement, local value addition, and alternate market linkages) and (iv) Institutional development services (forming and strengthening producers’ organisations such as self-help groups and water user associations).
  2. Implementation of a #UniversalPublicDistribution system and reorganizing the delivery of nutrition support programmes on a life-cycle basis with the participation of Panchayats and local bodies.
  3. In order to prevent Farmers’ suicides, the government should provide affordable health insurance and revitalize primary healthcare centres. The #NationalRuralHealthMission should be extended to suicide hotspot locations on priority basis.
  4. The government must improve the implementation of #MinimumSupportPrice (MSP). Arrangements for MSP need to be put in place for crops other than paddy and wheat. Also, millets and other nutritious cereals should be permanently included in the PDS.
  5. Encourage non-farm employment opportunities by developing particular sectors and sub-sectors where demand for the product or services is growing namely: (i) trade, (ii) restaurants and hotels, (iii) transport, (iv) construction, (v) repairs and (vi) certain services.

At a meeting held virtually on Wednesday, the Civil society groups and several academicians have expressed their solidarity with the framer groups and backed their demand for the appeal of the three new agricultural reform laws. These laws had wider consequences and even affected people outside the farming community, said P. Sainath of the People’s Archive for Rural India. Their demand for implementation of the Swaminathan report is mainly driven by its primary agenda of safeguarding the farming sector and doubling their income by 2022.

  • Arishmita Aditya
  • Silchar

Sources:

  1. https://www.prsindia.org/report-summaries/swaminathan-report-national-commission-farmers
  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/why-farm-protests-have-become-more-frequent/articleshow/79425865.cms
  3. https://www.thenewshamster.com/farmers-protest-the-reason-behind-this-escalating-situation/
  4. https://theprint.in/theprint-essential/all-about-the-3-modi-govt-ordinances-haryana-farmers-are-protesting-against/501227/
  5. https://www.governancenow.com/news/regular-story/why-farmers-want-swaminathan-panel-reports-implementation
  6. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/agriculture/swaminathan-panel-report-being-implemented-agriculture-minister/articleshow/65329118.cms?from=mdr
  7. https://thg.page.link/k2C81Z1bcsPjuheN9

Picture Sources:

  1. The Indian Express
  2. Business Standards
  3. Free Press Journal
  4. IndianFolk

Arishmita Aditya

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