The national leadership needs to set up a war room comprising top medical experts and corporate leaders to ramp up supplies of oxygen and necessary drugs and mobilise logistics to deliver these to last mile.
Overall, the expenditure on agri-R&D needs to be doubled or even tripled in next three years, if growth in agriculture has to provide food security at a national level and subsidies on food and fertilisers need to be contained.
For this to happen, political leadership is needed to help rebuild trust among countries on trade and food security after the disruption caused by US-China trade tensions, and the inconclusive outcome of the WTO’s 2018 ministerial conference in Buenos Aires.
This communication gap was fully exploited by some political parties and social activists, who themselves are facing an existentialist threat and believe that the Narendra Modi government can do no good for this country.
The irony of agricultural pollution is that taxpayers are essentially paying for it through a system of subsidies that actually motivates the very behaviours that drive the agricultural emissions that they breathe.
More sustainable solutions lie in augmenting productivity, diversifying to high-value crops, and shifting people out of agriculture to high productivity jobs elsewhere. But no one talked about these during these agitations.
The Congress is leading the charge. But its manifesto for the 2019 general election said, “Congress will repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act and make trade in agricultural produce — including exports and inter-state trade — free from all restrictions”.
For “POSHAN Maah” to contribute towards the holistic nourishment of children and a malnutrition free India by 2030, the government needs to address the multi-dimensional determinants of malnutrition on an urgent basis.
On the agri-imports front, the biggest item is edible oils — worth about $10 billion (more than 15 mt). This is where there is a need to create “aatma nirbharta”, not by levying high import duties, but by creating a competitive advantage through augmenting productivity and increasing the recovery ratio of oil from oilseeds.
Let the Modi government listen to its own chief economic advisor, what his team had to say in The Economic Survey: Reduce the coverage under PDS; link issue price to at least half of the procurement price; and move gradually towards cash transfers.