ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Mekhala KrishnamurthySubscribe to Mekhala Krishnamurthy

Agro-food Systems and Public Policy for Food and Agricultural Markets

This transcription of a presentation, commentary and a discussion at IIM Banglore in 2020 has three parts. In Part 1, contested definitions of food, urgent food questions and concepts of food systems are clarified before considering the ways agricultural markets are integrated in food systems, the contradictory principles at work in policies for their regulation, and the ways such policy practices are imagined. Sixteen multidisciplinary depictions of global food systems, agricultural markets and food policies are analysed, concluding that their conceptual fracturing results from a disregard of theory. New models of the Indian food system will need to give rigorous attention to institutions for policy. Part 2 problematises the empirical granularity needed to understand market behaviour that policymakers ignore as they shift agriculture from being the driver of industrialisation to being a residualised welfare sector. By continuing to ignore and misunderstand existing physical markets, regulatory reforms like the new central laws assume that the deregulation would somehow automatically bypass the vast number of private intermediaries necessary for distribution whose relatively easy-to-enter, small-scale activity undercuts the transaction costs of corporate agribusiness. In doing so, they lose sight of the original purpose and need for public regulation in primary agricultural markets in the first place. Part 3 discusses the need for consultative policy processes for policy and the implications for small scales and informality in agriculture and its markets of the close integration of self-employment in the rural non-farm economy.

Understanding Agricultural Commodity Markets

In recent years, agricultural markets in India have grown in size and complexity, not only in terms of volumes and commodities traded but also in terms of regulatory reforms and a proliferation of new marketing channels and arrangements, with new and evolving roles played by both state and private players. A new generation of theoretically-grounded empirical research is urgently needed to make sense of these rapidly changing agricultural markets and their linkages. Such a renewed agenda, moreover, must both build systematically on the insights of previous work and engage with the new and emerging features and forces shaping diverse commodity markets and regions. The papers in this special issue make a small contribution in this direction.

States of Wheat

Madhya Pradesh has emerged as one of the leading wheat procurement states in the country in the last five years, reflecting remarkable changes in the regional distribution and dynamics of the country's grain procurement landscape. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Harda Mandi, this paper describes the new systems and processes that have been implemented in the market yard and examines their effects on the mandi and key participants - farmers, traders, labourers, functionaries, and multiple state agencies. By focusing on the logistics and micropractices of procurement, it grasps the interconnections between critical elements of market processes and their impact on market participation and outcomes.
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