The policy makers for the farm sectors, especially in the post reform era are mesmerised by the quest for enhancing the production and productivity. They claim that it’s the only way to achieve food security, mitigate chronic hunger and alleviate rural poverty. The primary objective of all the public policies of central and state governments is to enhance the production and productivity so that the subsistence nature of the agriculture could be converted into a profitable, commercial venture, and the young generation can accept agriculture as a means for self employment. These objectives apparently sound optimistic but are not at all new. Since Independence, every Agriculture Policy has talked about the increase in production and productivity in one form or the other. After the Green Revolution the country became self sufficient in the food gain production and there was manifold increase in production and productivity. However, few issues like predominance of subsistence agriculture, lack of capital formation in the farm sector etc have remained unanswered till date. The agriculture is not viewed as the profitable venture these days and farm sector is unable to attract the private investment even though nearly all the public policies have given emphasis on the increase in production and productivity in the farm sector. Moreover the critical issues such as food insecurity, chronic hunger in rural India (where agriculture is the main occupation), malnutrition etc are yet to be tackled in a sustainable manner.
Now a natural question which arises is that whether this increase in production and productivity in the farm sector is a panacea for all these pathologies? The answer to this question is a blunt “No”. The increase is production and productivity in the farm sector is necessary but not sufficient condition to check the evils like lack of capital formation in agriculture, subsistence farming, chronic hunger etc. To tackle all these public policies on agriculture must look beyond the enhancement of production and productivity. The policies must have clear cut vision on the creation of demand and market so that the enhanced production can be absorbed with remunerative returns. In the absence of the markets and sufficient market channels the increase in production and productivity could lead to distress sales by the producers and exploitation by the middlemen and private traders in spite of Minimum Support Price (M.S.P).
Moreover, apart from that the agriculture policies must have a clear cut vision about the value addition from the increased farm produce due to enhanced production and productivity. The public policies should mention about the forward linkages from the farm produce. In other words if the agriculture policy is unable to create the demand for the farm produce, the only place that the enhanced farm produce could find would be the warehouses of F.C.I as the buffer stock procured at the procurement price by the government. This would not solve the purpose of increasing the production and productivity.
Another main objective of nearly all the agriculture policies in this epoch of Globalisation is to “to promote private enterprise in the marketing of agricultural produce”. This could create more problems than solutions in the long run. It’s an established fact that the maximum value addition in the value chain takes places in the stage of marketing. Thus to promote private players in the marketing would imply that these players would siphon off the maximum profits and the producers would be devoid of the remuneration they deserve. Thus instead of inviting the private players for the marketing, the capacity of the producers should be built so that they can essentially be the part of the marketing and get the maximum benefit that they deserve. On the other hand this would increase the employment opportunities as well in the agriculture sector.
Finally the excess of emphasis on the increase in production and productivity at times can lead to various distortions like interregional imbalances, intercrop imbalances, mono-cropping, exclusive economic growth, environment degradation etc. The negative externalities of Green Revolution are the testimonial of all these distortions, although major breakthrough in the production and productivity was achieved with its outcome. Thus a people centric policy should no doubt take into account the increase in production and productivity but at the same time not try to achieve these at the cost of inclusive growth and environmental degradation.