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

Agricultural ReformsSubscribe to Agricultural Reforms

Farm Reforms, Protests and By-election in Haryana

The central agricultural reforms have emerged as a new factor that played a vital role in the recently held by-election in a Haryana assembly constituency. Due to opposition from farmers and political parties to the so-called new farm reforms, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Jannayak Janta Party coalition has remarkably lost its vote share and an opportunity to win a rural constituency by-election. The Indian National Congress has become a major beneficiary of opposition to central new farm legislation in Haryana.

Agricultural Reforms in India

In its quest for food security, India pursued high-productivity agriculture with state support, which was gradually withdrawn resulting in agrarian distress, as also environmental damage. Agricultural reforms in India need to be tailored keeping this context in mind. While linking agriculture to private corporate sector can be part of the strategy, the thrust has to be on the cooperative movement for storage, processing and marketing of agricultural products.

MSP in a Changing Agricultural Policy Environment

The minimum support price and the public procurement system are indispensable for national food security, public distribution system, farmer livelihood and welfare, and agricultural growth. Over time, the MSP regime has been beleaguered with weaknesses. Thus, agricultural reforms are essential to rectify these primarily by firming the government’s role in agricultural marketing to ensure farmer welfare. However, the new farm laws foster a policy environment based on the laissez-faire approach that will be inimical to farmers’ interests.

Terms of Trade, Trade and Technical Change

Neither barter terms of trade nor trade liberalisation can be alternatives to technical change for domestic agricultural growth. What is needed is an integrated farming system approach, which requires paradigm shifts in government and private expenditure on R and D in agriculture. Broad-based technical change in agriculture will make it internationally competitive, and also extend the fruits of this change to those who cannot on their own invest in it.

Agricultural Reforms: Some Unaddressed Issues

VS Vyas has with characteristic clarity addressed several issues related to agricultural reforms in his essay on the subject (EPW, March 10-16, 2001). By his own admission, he has left out a few other aspects due to paucity of space. Using the context of the discussion launched by Vyas in his essay, this article proposes to highlight a few of these unaddressed issues.

Budgetary Policy as Process, Not Event

The Budget for 2001-2002 seeks to kick-start growth through a host of measures including the speeding up of agricultural reforms, furthering financial reforms especially in the debt market, widening the tax base, etc. Central to the strategy, however, is fiscal consolidation and the reductions announced in administered interest rates on contractual savings which were supported by the pre- and post-budget cuts in the Bank rate announced by the RBI.
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