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

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Agriculture and Sustainability

Green, but Not So Green

The pandemic, the climate crisis, and crisis in agriculture call for sustainable solutions, which are acknowledged by NITI Aayog, but did not find a thrust in the budget. A positive growth in agriculture during the pandemic shows its resilience, but it is intriguing that food inflation remained high and its possible link with the three farm produce laws should not be overlooked. It is worrying that crop loans for input-intensive production are non-serviceable.

 

India’s Union Budget of 2021–22 is special in many ways. It has been presented digitally, and hence, a green budget in that sense. But, more importantly, it is the 75th year of India’s independence. This assumes importance because a farmers’ protest against three laws on trade and storage of farm produce has been ongoing for three months now. There has been an ongoing pandemic that led to a -7.7% decline in India’s real income for 2021–22. This is the fifth decline in the nation’s income since 1950–51, but the first one without a decline in agriculture and allied activities. This implies that the farming community has, during this unprecedented time, come forward to contribute their bit for the economy. It is in this context that this article will look into what is implied for agriculture in the budget.

At one level, one may argue that the pandemic, the farmers’ protest, and an annual bookkeeping exercise of the government in the form of a budget are all independent activities. But, at the same time, one cannot keep aside the fact that a zoonotic origin disease leading to the pandemic, the climate crisis with its links to a persistent crisis in agriculture, and the role of the state in addressing these concerns are interrelated. In fact, their interconnectedness has assumed global importance by the sustainable development goals, the invoking of the Anthropocene in the Human Development Report 2020 (United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] 2020) or in The Economics of Biodiversity (Dasgupta 2021). The implications of the breaking down of planetary boundaries have also been evident closer home with the glacial burst in Uttarakhand in February 2021 and the cyclones in summer months in the Bay of Bengal (Fani in May 2019 and Amphan in May 2020). Besides, as per the Economic Survey 2017–18, the long-term trend points to increasing temperature, decreasing rainfall, and an increase in extreme precipitation events such that short intense wet spells go hand-in-hand with long dry spells (GoI 2018; also see Singh et al 2014). These have implications for agriculture.

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Updated On : 28th Feb, 2021

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