Addressing Agrarian Crisis

“Due to the unfortunate erratic monsoon behaviour, farmers are facing problems of severe drought for the past few years. Though there’s a bumper crop this year, farmers are dissatisfied with procurement price and are unable to repay institutional and private loans. Without repaying debts, farmers won’t get fresh kharif credit. This is why they want loan waivers as well as remunerative procurement price.”


The above tweet of M. S. Swaminathan eminent Agriculture scientist and Chairman of National Commission on Farmers, popularly known as the Father of Green Revolution, throws some light on the plight of farmers.  He also stated that though loan waivers are temporarily necessary but don’t provide long-term solution. He added that the Centre has implemented several recommendations of the Farmers’ Commission which intend to improvise the incumbent state of agricultural affairs in the nation and these include providing improved seeds, soil health cards, improved insurance, irrigated area increase and farmer’s welfare, among others. However, the 2006 farmers commission report had called for fixing the minimum support prices (MSP) for crops at levels at least 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production but that  formula of minimum 50 per cent profits remains a mirage for the farming community.


Agriculture in India has been facing many issues such as:

  • Fragmented land holding
  • Depletion of water table level
  • Deteriorating soil quality
  • Rising input costs and less output
  • Low productivity or the output prices may not be remunerative
  • Vagaries of monsoon or the natural calamity

Farmers in such circumstance face grim options and may be unable to repay loans. Indebtedness is a key reason for the many farmer suicides in the country.  Swaminathan is of the view that though loan waivers are temporarily necessary that provide some relief to farmers in such situations of rural distress but believes that instead of waiving loans the deep rooted problems related to farmers should be addressed. The money waived could be invested for strengthening agriculture infrastructure that makes farmers independent of cartel of traders and help them to reap maximum economic benefit of their produce.

Agrarian Crisis can be addressed by:


  • Reducing inefficiencies
  • Increasing income
  • Reducing costs
  • Providing protection through insurance schemes
  • Boosting agricultural productivity
  • Revamping irrigation and canal network
  • Improving rural and district roads
  • Investing in cold chains
  • Making available formal credit links and liberal access to credit to farmers
  • Removing restrictions on market freedoms in agriculture
  • Linking various national agricultural markets
  • Making functional the Futures and options markets
  • Enabling food processing and climate-controlled storage with in interrupted power supply
  • Promising minimum support price
  • Enabling better risk management and more efficient agricultural markets
  • Directing subsidies towards farmers not companies

India needs massive investment in areas such as irrigation, water conservation, better storage facilities, market connectivity and agricultural research to make agriculture sustainable. The problems in Indian agriculture are structural. There are many dimensions of the present agrarian crisis in India. The search for a solution therefore needs to be comprehensive by taking into consideration all the factors that contribute to the crisis. Furthermore, both short- and long-term measures are required to address the numerous problems associated with the agrarian crisis.

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