Loan waiver no solution, make farming viable: M S Swaminathan

M S Swaminathan, author of the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) which is better known as his panel, does not see farm loan waiver as a solution to challenges being faced by farmers.

Written by Ravish Tiwari | New Delhi | Updated: March 13, 2018 9:06 am
 maharashtra farmers protest, maharashtra farmers strike, swaminathan commission, farmers protests, madhya pradesh, mp farmers protests, farmers protests, farmers suicides, food security M S Swaminathan emphasised the need for strategies beyond short-term measures like loan waiver to ensure farmers do not need palliatives like loan waivers time and again. (Express photo)

From Mandsaur to Mumbai, farmer agitations have repeatedly invoked recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission to press their demands, including waiver of loans. Political leadership across states — Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab — have come out with their versions of farm loan waivers to stop unrest among farmers from turning into an electoral backlash.

Yet Professor M S Swaminathan, author of the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) which is better known as his panel, does not see farm loan waiver as a solution to challenges being faced by farmers.

“The demand for loan waiver is indicative of non-viability of farm economics. Every step should be taken to make farming economically viable,” Swaminathan told The Indian Express over phone from Chennai before chastising “short-term strategies” like loan waivers.

“I am sorry to say that very simple and short-term strategies like loan waiver are adopted. Writing off the loan is not the best way to tackle the distress in the farming sector,” he said, adding, “loan waiver is only an easy way to get a new farm loan. But writing off does not guarantee repayment of the next loan unless farming is made viable.”

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“I am not against loan waiver. But loan waiver is not a solution to the problem. I am all for loan waiver if it is part of a strategy to revive the economic health of farming,” Swaminathan said, suggesting that “apart from writing off loans, the focus should be to ensure how the loan is repaid. For this, farming economics needs to be fixed.”

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The agriculture expert underlined the need for sustained attention towards technology, trade and training-related requirements of the sector to shield farmers from the grim situation they face.

“In particular, aspects related to technology, trade and training in the farming sector needs to be attended in a much deeper way. Say, we need to train farmers for climate-smart farming now on,” he said, making the point that “from farm to fork, the farming sector should be looked at in an integrated and holistic fashion. We need a new agriculture, based on ecology and economics.”

He emphasised the need for strategies beyond short-term measures like loan waiver to ensure farmers do not need palliatives like loan waivers time and again.

“There may be short-term steps needed. But more important are medium and long term steps to ensure farming is economically attractive,” Swaminathan said, advocating the need for land use planning well in advance of every crop cycle to wean them away from the traps of excess production that lead to crash in prices, resulting in lower realisations that create distress.

“Farmers should be advised on land use planning. For want of proper land use planning, they end up sowing more than the demand. This leads to price crash of their produce. Land use planning has to be before sowing. Say, it should begin for March for the Kharif season (starting June),” Swaminathan said, citing examples of how farmers of different produce have suffered over the years for excess acreage of their crops than the demand of their produce.

Distress in the farm sector led to agitations across different parts of the country, starting from Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh last summer. Worried that unrest among farmers may spill into an election year, the BJP-led government at the Centre, in its last full Budget in February, announced implementation of a version of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation on fixing minimum support price for almost two dozen commodities on the cost plus 50 per cent basis. Additionally, the central government tasked the NITI Aayog to frame a mechanism to ensure farmers get minimum support price in the eventuality of prices crashing.

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  1. Gopal Sriniwasan
    Mar 13, 2018 at 5:39 pm
    Modern methods of agriculture has changed.As Prof MS has rightly pointed it is about Farm Economics and making farming a viable option. I suspect,the marginal farmers have been used by the Political parties as a vote bank and now Commies and Marxists have suddenly realised the viability of this section of Vote banks. I would urge the farmers and their representative organisation not to fall a prey and instead adopt modern methods of agriculture to get their produce sold at a higher price.
    1. Mehar Bhai
      Mar 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm
      Father of the Nation-Mahatma Gandhi ji :"MAKE ALL VILLAGES GOKUL GRAMS-MODEL-IDEAL ADARSH VILLAGES.."GOD LIVES IN VILLAGES. REAL NATIONS LIVE IN VILLAGES.Nations poor as villages are poor.NATIONS WILL BE RICH ONLY WHEN VILLAGES WILL BE RICH.No one serious for rural development and farmers welfare. #PresidentKovind #SaveOurFarmers narendramodi arunjaitley SumitraTai MVenkaiahNaidu rashtrapatibhvn RadhamohanBJP All forgot'PM ADARSH GRAMS YOJANA'Poor Farmers dying due to:anti-govt policies,suicides,agriculture taxed in Fin.Bill,poverty.hunger, pesticides,debt,evils sins. WHO - IARC RECENT DISCOVERY : "CANCER DUE TO USE OF PESTICIDES IN AGRICULTURE.."Focus for SUSTAINABLE YOGIC AGRICULTURE yogickheti as panacea to all problems for rapid greater transformation to angelic SATYUGI living. All God's Angels.PARADISE.. yogickheti
      1. P
        Mar 13, 2018 at 11:36 am
        Farm distress can't be treated as an electoral plank. It is a serious matter and only those who sincerely believe in solving the problem need to be involved in the process of solution. The red Communist flags in the hands of the farmers is a signal that they have fallen prey to the machinations of these anti-national, anti-social forces. I have to urge the farmers to first detach themselves from the clutches of these self-seeking jholiwallas before you start a dialogue with the present governments at the state and center. I have never seen a more sincere and honest govt before as is in rule in Maharashtra. But when the farmers carry the Communist flags and march to Mumbai, their intentions and motivations become highly suspect. In fact, the Honorable Chief Minister of Maharashtra should invite the farmers' representatives [ not the type of Navale] for serious dialogue and discuss the problems threadbare in full confidence. The farmers must be made to understand the finer economics.
        1. M
          Mar 13, 2018 at 9:13 am
          Best solution in my view is co-operative farming about which, I have written a letter to our Honorable PM awaiting response. Govt must persuade farmers to make co-op societies in each of the villages land of the village must be transferred to it. In return farmers must get a transferable share certificate. Agriculture scientist must help in farming based on commercial values like dairy/poultry/vegetables besides wheat etc. It will also generate extra land for farming as farms size will increase. Due to dairy in each village all our animals will be saved. Professionals can help in soil testing and how best farming should be done to use minimum water etc. Since loan is given to co-operative societies so no loan waiver will be necessary for farmers. Farmers can be employed in the farming surplus out of commercial farming be distributed among them. With this there will not be any need for loan to farmers its waiver we can save precious lives of farmers our nation can prosper.
          1. S
            s mohan
            Mar 13, 2018 at 9:11 am
            Look at the red flags held by the so called farmers. Do they seriously believe that any govt can actually dive loans and then for whatever reason waive off repayment.? This way every year more and more defixit financing will happen and then end up as Venezuela. About pension to every farmer above 60 yrs let the govt build a corpus by levying tax on agriculture at least on a minimum rate so that this can generate sufficient funds to manage a pension scheme exclusive for the aged farmers. How else can any govt of any state in this country survive. While travelling by taxi recently, the driver asked me why banks cannot waive away loans of poor people who run taxis for a living and struggle to repay installments after lookin after the very basic need of their family.? Surprisingly this poor chap wisely replied to his rhtorical question. "sir banks survive only because we take loans and repay promptly regardless of our problems"why single out only farmers"
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