- Food on its own terms (The Hindu)
Food on its own terms (The Hindu)
Synoptic line: It provides the contours of declining agricultural productivity in Kerela but can be used for pan-India. (GS paper II)
Declining Global per capita food availability threatens the very existence of mankind. According to World Bank two-third of chronically hungry people live in Asia. India is one among such country where food scarcity is a persisting threat.
- Kerala presents a grim picture of declining rice productivity. (such a pattern can be noticed in majority of states, owing to declining profitability and abandoning of agriculture as an occupation by youth) FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) attaches huge importance to attracting more youth in agriculture and making agriculture as a lucrative business.
- Such a scenario reflects the failure of agricultural practices and public policy among others.
Reasons of Declining yield
- Arabian gulf boom and emigration: Along with educated class, manual workers migrated to gulf region in want of better opportunities. Moreover, with increased income (in lieu of remittances) women also gave up agriculture (classic example of declining women’s labour force participation rate(LFPR)
- Expensive labour: Due to abandoning of agriculture as an occupation the labour became very expensive and due to this, agriculture became an unviable option.
- Faulty Land reforms: Though land reforms aimed at providing land to the tiller but due to ineffectiveness of land reforms it did not translated into desired results. This is reflected in the current agitation for land by the Adivasi community. Moreover, apart from Zimbabwe, Kerala is a state where agricultural production actually declined after land reforms. Whereas, Land reforms in China after Mao led to a surge in food production, which in turn led to its rise to global prominence.
- Flawed Tenancy Acts : Even the people who are in ownership of land are not ready to lease out the land as leasing was made unlawful by the land reform Act. Hence public policy should be aimed to correct such a course ( Here, Model Land Leasing Law mooted by NITI Aayog can be answer. It sought to correct the course by legalising the land leasing)
- Declining staple food production: Due to neglect by state Govt.
Chapters to be learnt:
- Kerala should take a leaf out of experience gained in 1960(s) when India suffered huge food shortage and opted for green revolution. Similarly agricultural practices need to be streamlined.
- More labour force particularly youths are to be attracted in agriculture.
- There are ways to attract youth to agriculture. First, with emerging labour shortages, rural areas need entrepreneurs to help start up machinery service providers that can, for example, prepare the land or harvest the crop.
- Second, scientific research can help engineer better crops that are more nutritious and can withstand climate change. So when we talk about attracting youth to agriculture, we don’t want them to work simply as labourers.
- Other options include growing high-value crops that can command a premium price in the market.
- Depletion of groundwater and sand mining of the riverbeds should be checked .
- Land need not be turned into real estate to lose its fertility. Using fallow paddy fields as ‘exhibition’ grounds or for shopping festivals, even when the structures made are temporary, could degrade the land permanently.
- New public policy coupled with informed citizenry is required to tackle the difficult agriculture.