Farm sector reforms were still incomplete in the country, according to Bibek Debroy, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council. Mr. Debory said the Minimum Support Price (MSP) was not supposed to be a procurement price but at present, the MSP is equivalent to the procurement price.
Inaugurating the Business Line Agri-Business and Commodities Summit ‘Turbocharging the Agri-Biz and Commodities sector’ here on Friday, Mr. Debroy said the moment the country “has a procurement policy, it distorts choice”.
“We need to ask ourselves, are farmers not entrepreneurial enough? By definition, an entrepreneur is a risk taker. Farmer is much more entrepreneurial than many corporate houses. Because the farmers take risks all the time,” he said, and added what the farmer should be protected from is unwarranted state interventions. “If you free the farmer from that intervention, Indian agriculture can be transformed,” he said.
Mr. Debroy said the country would not be able to reform agriculture until it had ‘modern land systems and modern land records’. He said China reformed agriculture in the first phase of reforms in 1978-79. “Quite often we are told, in 1991, reforms were introduced in India. There were reforms pertaining to the external sector and industrial delicensing. Werethe reforms in agriculture introduced, if it de-licensed, the answer is no. By and large, the output side, input side, and marketing side is controlled. Therefore, that reform agenda for agriculture has not only been [pending] since 1991, it is pending even today as we speak,” he said.
Chairman of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India (APEDA) M. Angamuthu, in his special address on “Agriculture exports – Striking a balance with domestic demand in meeting the $60-billion target”, said with its price and product competitiveness and production of agriculture products, the country was aiming to reach the fourth or fifth position in agriculture exports by 2030.
“We have not only price competitiveness, we have production and the product competitiveness also. The range and the number of products India has cannot be compared with other countries. The agriculture export competitiveness index focusses on products range, cost-effective and price-competitive product matrix,” he said.
Ashok Dalwai, CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority said during a session on doubling of farmers’ income that in order to increase farmers’ income as well as ensure nutrition security for the country, technology should be used to increase yields and land should be diverted to be used for horticulture, animal husbandry and fisheries. “Because we have been producing more cereal, and less pulses, fats and vegetables, people are unable to access the latter at affordable prices. It is time India looked at nutrition security rather than food security,” Mr. Dalwai said.
He added that the country should ensure that agricultural produce includes the three major nutrients, namely, carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and three non-major nutrients, namely, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. “Despite being a global power in agriculture production, the country faced malnutrition,” he said.