NEW DELHI: Until farmer violence flared up in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh was the model the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was looking to adopt to solve the country's agrarian crisis. And then on June 6, five farmers fell to police bullets in that district and it changed the entire discourse.
Until then, top sources said, the Narendra Modi government had been examining suggestions on farm policy drafted by a Washington-based think tank, India Agriculture Group.
The exercise was meant to harvest solutions to solve the agrarian crisis and accelerate growth. It was initiated in February when minister of state for agriculture S S Ahluwalia forwarded the think tank’s suggestions to the Prime Minister.
Among the suggestions government officials were examining was the ‘success story’ of Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s Krishi Cabinet (agriculture cabinet).
The Krishi Cabinet is comprised of representatives from the state’s agriculture and related departments who address farmer issues at the block and village level.
India Agriculture Group’s note forwarded by Ahluwalia talks of a Krishi Cabinet that monitors the "progress of farm activities, crop performance, procurement under MSP and addresses any storage and marketing problems."
The note also claims that Madhya Pradesh’s growth has been consistent in the past decade and that it could be replicated in other states.
"Madhya Pradesh remains the finest example of integration and implementation of various issues that have yielded agriculture growth,” said a government official said. “But at the same time there are concerns related to the state's role in implementing certain policies like fair prices for farmers’ produce. There is no doubt that a Krishi Cabinet is a fantastic idea but the Mandsaur incident is a glaring example that it failed to attend to some issues.”
The Union government is working on an action plan to double farmers’ income by 2022. It is examining some recommendations towards that goal, one of which is to examine the Madhya Pradesh model to prioritise the overall management of the agriculture sector according to the local situation.
So now, if not Mandsaur, what next? The government is also examining the China model to improve farmers’ conditions. According to India Agriculture Group’s note the Chinese farm sector has more or less similar conditions like India. But its per hectare productivity is higher. "China's production of all crops except soybean is much than the average production in the world," the note said.