India on verge of disaster on farm front, says MS Swaminathan
M S Swaminathan, top farm scientist and one of the architects of India's green revolution, has warned that the country would face a food crisis if agriculture and farmers were ignored.
"We are on the verge of a disaster. We will be in serious difficulty if food productivity is not increased and farming is neglected," Swaminathan said on the sidelines of the 97th Indian Science Congress being held here.
"The future belongs to nations with grains and not guns. The current food inflation is frightening. If pulses, potatoes and onions are beyond the purchasing capacity of the majority, malnourishment will be a painful result," he said.
In this context, Swaminathan urged the government to implement the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers that were made under his chairmanship and tabled in Parliament in November 2007.
"As the recommendations are aimed at ushering in the second green revolution in the country, the government should immediately act upon them to overcome the serious crisis we are facing on the food front," he said.
Referring to the double-digit food inflation (about 20 percent) amid shortages and supply constraints, he said the government should introduce legislation in the budget session to amend laws governing the agriculture sector.
"I want the government to act upon three major recommendations," the Rajya Sabha member said.
"It should change compensation laws as farmers do not have pay commissions like the sixth pay panel; attract youth to farming; and amend the Women Farmers' Entitlement Act to allow women avail bank loans without their land as a collateral security."
According to him, only lip sympathy was paid to the farming community and nothing was done beyond. He said that despite the unprecedented price rise, suicides by farmers and widening demand-supply gap, the government and political parties had failed to act upon the recommendations.
"The sad part is that the country's finance ministers start the annual budget exercise by first meeting the captains of Indian industry. I have not heard or seen them meeting farmers' representatives to incorporate their views in the budget proposals."
Recalling the statement he made at the Copenhagen summit on climate change, Swaminathan said the irony was that people in rural areas, accounting for 70 percent of the population, were not given priority.