Sharma: we need an economically viable, sustainable agricultural model

In an interview with One World South Asia, Devinder Sharma wrote: 

Ever since India became “self sufficient” in food grain production, the nation has become too complacent. We have started to believe that food is something which can be bought off the shelf. We need not therefore worry about farmers. India has 600 million farmers. Together with China, we make half of the world’s farming population. But or agricultural policies are being dictated by the west. We blindly tow the line. 

What is not realised is that while the model of agriculture that we have adopted in India is similar to that in US, on a different scale, we are also committing the same mistake of pushing farmers out. We forget that farmers in India are not only producers but also consumers themselves. By depriving them of their livelihood and by driving them out of farming we are deliberately laying the foundations for a much bigger socio-economic crisis.

India cannot provide alternate employment to the teeming millions who are being displaced from agriculture. 

What we need is an agricultural model where farming is made economically viable and sustainable. We need to remind ourselves what Mahatma Gandhi had once said. We need a production system by the masses, and not for the masses.  

We need to aggressively push in food sovereignty. We need our own people to produce food for the nation. This is possible provided we throw away the American cloak and put our heads together to develop an Indian version of agriculture and farming. 

What always puzzled me was that the Indian cattle breeds, revered by Indian Kings in history, suddenly became seen as unproductive after Independence? If these cattle were so unproductive, these would have been partially disappeared following Charles Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. Or was it that we failed to recognize their inherent potential? 

Not many people know that while we despise our domestic cattle breeds, Brazil has become the biggest exporter of Indian breeds of cows. There are at least four Indian breeds, including Gir [pictured], Kankrej and Ongole from India, that Brazil has developed pure bred. At a recent milk competition in Brazil, the cow that stood first clocking an average of 48.8 litres of milk based on three day milk performance was Gir from India. The cow that came second and third was also from India. Should we not feel ashamed as Indians when our breeds do exceedingly well abroad while we have been told all these years that the indigenous breeds are good for nothing?

 Full article here

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