Hyderabad: Economist and policy strategist Mohan Guruswamy and political economist Parakala Prabhakar, as part of the series “Deccan Dialogues”, discussed the problems faced by farmers and identified areas that need improvement for agriculture to remain sustainable in India.
Prabhakar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that farmers’ incomes would be doubled by 2022, but that did not happen. “Yes, there was a pandemic that set things back, but have we started the journey? Farmers aren’t really thriving, the agricultural sector is in distress and we still hear about farmer suicides,” he said. he said during the discussion at the Guruswamy Center. at West Marredpally.
Guruswamy said incomes would not increase unless large numbers of people move from agriculture to the secondary and tertiary sectors, and stressed that this was not happening because there was not enough jobs created in these sectors.
Prabhakar then said that while food production had increased dramatically since the 1960s, farmers had become poorer during this period. Guruswamy said this was because farmers had to pay international market rates for everything they bought, but got the lowest rates in the world for their produce.
“To solve this problem, we should reduce the number of agricultural producers and enlarge their farms so that they can retain better prices. Today, farmers depend either on the Food Corporation of India or on local saviors, and this must change,” the author said.
Talking about local lenders, Prabhakar said that even if a farmer wanted to modernize his farm, he was denied capital by the banking system and had to rely mainly on local lenders. Typically, he said, these moneylenders buy farmers’ produce at low prices when the farmers are in trouble.
Guruswamy responded to this by saying, “The local moneylender or ‘seth’ in the popular imagination is the enemy and has been thoroughly demonized. But he is the one who sustains the rural economy with credit. The agricultural economy is completely distorted. The only people who get loans from the banks are big farmers, and the loans are canceled, so there is no money to lend.”