BANGALORE: Former director of the Institute of Social and Economic Change (ISEC) Dr R S Deshpande on Monday said the number of farmers has started shrinking from the last 14 years due to the advent of technology and rising costs associated with it.
At a programme organised by the Bangalore Social Science Forum at the National College, Deshpande said the country lacks visionaries in the field of agriculture.
“The first two plans of the Planning Commission totally treated farmers as ‘step children’ and agriculture was neglected to a large extent. Renowned economist J C Kumarappa, in a report, had said that the country is in need of land reforms. He had also severely criticised the concentration of wealth only among a few,” he said.
Deshpande said the Land Reforms Act of 1964 has achieved only 40 per cent success. “This due to the fact that there was a limitation on land holdings. Also, more than farm owners, there were tenants who wanted to rent out a piece of land. This gave way to a lot of problems,” he felt.
“In 1999-2000, technology in the country took a major leap forward. Farmers had no choice but to adapt to newer technology in order to compete. However, the income of farmers was being squeezed and many of them quit. This situation also increased the number of farmer suicides across the country as several of them started to fall below the poverty line,” he observed.
“There is a mass migration of young farmers, who have quit farming, to cities in search of better opportunities. This can very well lead to a situation where only the elderly are left in rural areas, which will have an adverse impact on agriculture as a whole,” he added.