Once more we turn to agriculture remembering the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi: “the country does not stand in the way of rule-based global trade but the interests of its poor and farmers cannot be sacrificed”.
Earlier this year agricultural analyst Devinder Sharma, gave an interview during his visit to France which highlighted the socially and ultimately economically damaging desire to move people from the land into urban areas where there is no such fundamentally important work like producing food at which they are skilled.
Sharma stresses that there is absolutely no need for India to import and export food – an economically and environmentally unsustainable practice – though hugely profitable for the upper echelons.
He gives a case history, which could, in principle, be applied to many other processed food products:
Cost advantage (ie higher profit margins for the already wealthy) the paramount consideration
“There is a cost advantage in buying from China versus India where prices fluctuate.”
Sharma makes three suggestions:
1. The Ministry of Food Processing should encourage food processors to mention on the label the place from where the raw material is being sourced. Traceability is now an important trade issue.
2. It should be made mandatory for the food processing units to source the raw material that is available in India, from domestic sources. This is the only way to develop the back-end infrastructure that will help reduce farm wastage.
3. A minimum support prices should be announced for tomato and other staples which should serve as a floor price for the markets.
This would be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable practice.