Water management expert Dr Madhav Chitale believes a loan waiver is not a solution to agrarian crisis. He says such
populist measures often pitched by politicians never serve the larger objective of farmer welfare. “If any government is attempting such a decision, it can be best described as ‘tatpurta malam patti’ (temporary ointment and bandage to cover a wound’,” says Chitale.
The former chairman of the special investigation team (SIT) formed to look into the multi-crore irrigation scam and evolve guidelines for the irrigation sector says: “If we look at the global agriculture scenario, nowhere do we find this short-term approach towards tackling farm crisis. As such decisions taken due to political pressure do not bring long term results for farmers.”
Reflecting on the complexities of the agrarian crisis and challenges confronting the government, he said it is time to “switch over to scientific farming”.
“Every district will have its geographical and climatic conditions, which have to be factored to decide crop pattern. We have to adopt to new challenges of climatic changes coupled with our dependence on rain-fed agriculture,” says Chitale.
Citing the example of Japan, Europe and other nations, he says: “They are not dependent on rain. They have put in place mechanism to hold sufficient water to cater to their 12 months’ agriculture activities through new innovations and technology.”
Chitale, who had recommended 42 measures to increase the state’s irrigation potential that has remained stagnant at 18 per cent, said the government should invest in infrastructure for the agriculture sector to help double production. He says emphasis should be on organised farming. “Sugarcane is the only cash crop that is a highly organised sector. It works on certain economics that brings better remuneration to farmers. Similar organised farming should be for all crops. Fruits and vegetables should be tied to markets and food processing units in every taluka or district. This will bring assured income,” says Chitale.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, after taking charge in 2014, had enforced all 42 recommendations of the Chitale committee. Of these, 22 have been implemented.