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This article has been written by Sneha Jaiswal, from Christ (Deemed to be University) Delhi NCR. This article shows the importance of the Swaminathan Report and its recommendations for the farmer’s distress. Also, tries to highlight the issues which farmers are facing and the reason behind those sufferings.

Introduction

MS Swaminathan is the father of the Indian green revolution. Under his chairmanship, MS Swaminathan Commission was constituted which presented five reports that recommended measures. With the help of these measures, farmers can have a huge relief from the distress which they have been continuously suffering for the past many years. This article will help you to understand the role of MS Swaminathan Report and its implementation in the field of agriculture and how it can heal the wounds of farmers which they get while working in the agriculture fields. 

MS Swaminathan – the father of Indian Green Revolution

MS Swaminathan or Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan was an Indian geneticist and administrator. He was born on 7 August 1925 and hails from Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. He is known for his work in India’s green revolution, a program under which high-yield varieties of rice and wheat were planted. MS Swaminathan has been known as the “Father of Green Revolution in India” for his part in presenting and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India. MS Swaminathan was the founder of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation. His expressed vision is to rid the world of hunger and poverty. MS Swaminathan’s advocacy of sustainable agriculture prompting an ever-green revolution makes him a recognized world leader in the field of sustainable food security. 

Swaminathan report – an overview

The National Commission on Farmers, led by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan, constituted in 2004, submitted five reports through the period of December 2004 – October 2006, proposing approaches to improve productivity, profitability, and sustainability of the major farming systems in India. Following the first four, the last or final report focused on causes of farmer distresses and the rise in farmer suicides and recommendations addressing them through a holistic national policy for farmers. Additionally, discusses issues like land reforms, irrigation reforms, food security, production growth, credit, and insurance. The findings and recommendations include issues of access to resources and social security entitlements.

Background

Agricultural distress has led farmers to commit suicide in recent years. The significant reasons for the agrarian crisis are unfinished agenda in land reform, quality and quantity of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit, and opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing. Adverse meteorological factors are one of the issues which affect farmers a lot. The National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was established on 18 November 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan. It had submitted five reports, with recommendations on alleviating the distress of farmers and provided a framework for a sustainable and profitable agricultural system.

The NCF made suggestions on such issues

  • Strategy for food and nutrition security in the nation.
  • Improve sustainability and efficiency of the farming systems.
  • Improvement to increase the flow of rural credit to farmers.
  • For farmers, programs for dryland farming in the arid, hilly as well as coastal areas.
  • Improve the quality as well as cost competitiveness of farm commodities.
  • Protection of farmers from imports when global prices fall.
  • Empowering local bodies to successfully conserve the environmental foundations for better agriculture.

Key findings and recommendations

The reports contain ideas to accomplish the objective of “quicker and more inclusive development” as imagined in the approach to the eleventh five-year plan. Farmers need to have guaranteed access and command over fundamental resources, which incorporate land, water, bioresources, technology, credit and insurance, and knowledge management, and markets. The National Commission on Farmers suggests that “Agriculture” should be inserted in the Concurrent List of the Indian Constitution.

The Swaminathan Commission had recognized the problem of cartelisation among traders in a particular Agricultural Produce & Livestock Market Committee (APMC) and thus recommended the establishment of One Nation-One Market. It recommended improvement in the movement of goods by abolishing road tax and local taxes, and also introduced a national permit for plying commercial vehicles anywhere in the nation. The measures, as suggested by the commission, would help in enlarging small regional markets into a large national market, reduce transportation cost and improve the competitiveness of our agriculture.

While espousing contract farming, the committee also highlighted the importance of developing a comprehensive model agreement that cannot be used against the farmers. While referring to contract farming, it observed– “The need is to develop a comprehensive, clean, equitable and farmer-centric model agreement, which can’t be abused against the farmers. Special care should be taken in regards to statements dealing with quality norms, withdrawal conditions, paying arrangements, pricing norms, natural calamities, and arbitration systems.”

The Swaminathan report several times mentioned that enforcement of minimum support price (MSP) throughout the country is essential for imparting dynamism to agriculture. It suggests this safety tool to safeguard the interests of the people, crops and regions that are likely to be affected in the process of globalization.

Land reforms are necessary to address the fundamental issue of access to land for both crops and livestock. Landholding inequality is reflected in land ownership. Recommendations include the establishment of a National Land Use Advisory Service, which would have the capacity to link land-use decisions with ecological meteorological and marketing factors on a location and season-specific basis. Prevent diversion of prime agricultural land and woods to the corporate sector for the purposes which are non-agricultural.

To accomplish higher development in productivity in agriculture, the NCF suggests a substantial expansion for public interest in infrastructure which is related to agriculture, especially irrigation, land development, drainage, water conservation, research advancement, and transport connectivity, and so on. A national network of advanced soil testing laboratories with essential amenities for the detection of deficiencies in micronutrients. Promotion of conservation farming, which will help farm families to conserve and improve water quality, water quantity, soil health, and biodiversity.

An ideal and adequate supply of credit is a fundamental requirement of a small farm. It recommends extending the outreach of the formal credit framework to reach the really poor and needy ones. Also, recommends implementing a universal public distribution system to promote food security. It has underlined the need to address the farmer suicide problem on a priority basis. Revitalize primary healthcare centres and provide affordable healthcare coverage. The National Rural Health Mission ought to be reached out to suicide hotspot locations. For employment, it suggests generating productive employment opportunities and to improve the quality of employment in several sectors such that real wages rise through improved productivity. 

Rural people in India rely upon a wide range of bioresources for their nutrition and livelihood.  The report suggests safeguarding the traditional rights of access to biodiversity, that incorporate access to non-timber forest products including medicinal plants, oil-yielding plants, gums and resins, and micro-organisms which are advantageous in nature. Monitoring, upgrading, and improving yields and livestock and fish stocks through breeding.

The Swaminathan report – the only existing material that kept the battle between farmers and government alive

More than a half-century, MS Swaminathan had led the green revolution, farmers still complain of systemic neglect by the various governments at the Centre as well as in states. Census of the year 2011 data reflects that farmers are giving up agriculture for other career options. Many researchers have claimed that the farm dropout rate is 2,040 every twenty-four hours. This implies that every passing day, more than two thousand farmers are moving away from agriculture. Furious farmers are politically dangerous for ruling dispensations. Governments such as those which were led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Indira Gandhi had to pay the heavy price of farm distress. Atal Vajpayee government’s loss served as a warning to the next government which was led by Manmohan Singh, who constituted a commission headed by agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan in the year 2004. The Swaminathan Commission was entrusted with discovering answers for the issues faced by farmers. The Swaminathan commission submitted five reports between December 2004 and October 2006. The farmers, coordinated under numerous umbrella groups, today demand the implementation of recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission’s report.

Why is there a lack of implementation

India is a country where government officials and ordinary people usually focus on the short-term welfare of the people. While drafting and implementing policies long-term social welfare is a rare priority. Swaminathan Report: National Commission on Farmers suggest various solutions, which can act as an ointment on the pains of the farmers. The subsidy would never be the solution for making farmers stress-free. Some of the recommendations have been incorporated in various other schemes like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna (PMKSY), and still have a lot of scope. There is a dire need of making improvements at the ground level than highlighting or planning the programmes on the paper itself.

For the first time in the history of India, a census of the year 2011 reported a decline in the population growth rate of rural India. There are pointers that indicate many rural residents are not taking up farming despite being unemployed and having small lands. This shows that India is on the cusp of a significant change.

India is no more agrarian, in monetary and employment terms. In a research paper for the Niti Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), Economist Ramesh Chand has analysed the change in the rural economy. He concluded that, since 2004-2005, India has become a non-farm economy. Farmers are quitting agriculture and joining non-agricultural jobs. It is an economic decision they have chosen on the ground that they earn more from the latter. For quite a long time, most government strategies have focussed on non-farm sectors to get the attention of the people who are quitting farming.

According to Niti Aayog’s assessment, if this pattern proceeds, the share of farmers in the total workforce would be fifty-five percent by the year 2022. So, the potential of agriculture is not a constraining factor for the people to take up farming as a vocation. That they don’t reap a good harvest as well as price from the agriculture, are the main reasons for their disinclination towards the same.

The drawbacks for the farmers of the country

Farmers are the backbone of our society. They are the ones who provide us with the food that we eat. Thus, the entire population of the nation depends upon their hard work which they do in the fields. Be it the developed or the developing country. Farmers are one of the most important people in the world. Despite the fact that farmers still have so much significance, they don’t have a peaceful life. The condition of farmers in India is very critical. We almost every week or a month hear suicide news of farmers.

Moreover, farmers are altogether carrying on with a troublesome life from past years. The problem is that they are not getting sufficient pay for their work. Since the agent in between eats almost all the money of farmers, and they are left empty-handed. Also, farmers don’t have money to spend on their children’s education. Sometimes the situation gets so deteriorated that they don’t get a one-time proper meal to eat. As a result, farmers suffer famine due to which they attempt suicide. Furthermore, another reason for their worst condition is global warming which hampers our planet as well as our farmers. Due to global warming, there is a delay in the season. Every crop has its own season to ripe and they don’t get proper nourishment. Because of changes in climate, their harvests get hampered and they don’t get a reasonable price after that, or sometimes they don’t get a single penny in spite of what they invested. This is the main reason why farmers are demanding a minimum support price (MSP) as insurance against volatility in price.

Farmers are disadvantaged because they don’t get the financial support needed to make farming profitable. And, when their yields become expensive due to either extreme weather or different reasons of shortage, the government or respective authority steps in to import less expensive food. Farmers are the ones who only suffer at both ends.

Conclusion

With India’s transition from a predominantly rural economy to an urban one, people’s occupations and preferences are also changing with time according to the policies in the said profession.  The immediate concern is whether India’s farming population will remain the same or will it migrate to non-farm occupations. With proper analysis, the implementation of MS Swaminathan report will bring huge relief to the farmers as well as people who are related to Agriculture. I hope my article will help you to understand the concept of Swaminathan Report and its importance as well as its implementation in the field of Agriculture.

References


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