BHUBANESWAR: Even as the Union Budget has proposed several measures to reform and revive the agriculture sector, experts feared that the initiatives without a proper balance between profitability and sustainability may have disastrous impact on livelihood, economy and the environment.
Speaking at a policy dialogue organised by Centre for Policy, Governance and Advocacy (CPGA) here on Sunday, former Agriculture Production Commissioner Sanjeev Hota expressed concern as farmers are marginalised due to Government and corporate interventions.
“Farming is being majorly done by small and marginal farmers without any bargaining power, and they are mostly dependent on the Government for MSP. Lack of storage and transport facilities besides water scarcity and risks involved in the farming sectors make them vulnerable. There will be little utility of sustainability plans without addressing these vulnerabilities,” he pointed out.
Director of Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies (NCDS) Prof Srijit Mishra highlighted five unsustainable practices, including income unpredictability, difficulty in credit provision, uneven technology absorption, non-inclusive policy design and un-integrated farming, that are responsible for distress in the agriculture sector.
Describing how the Odisha Millet Mission has emerged as a best practice model in nutritional intervention, he suggested to focus on scheduled areas, scheduled people and scheduled crops for a sustainable development in the sector.
Several experts stressed on good cultivation and marketing practices in agriculture. They demanded that wholesale markets should be shifted out of cities and marketing provisions be made in municipality and panchayat markets under the supervision of State agricultural marketing board. They also suggested that surplus funds lying with different RMCs need to be transferred to the State market fund as provided under the Agricultural Produce Marketing Regulation (APMR) Act.
Agriculture researcher Natabar Sarangi expressed concern on the use of chemicals in agri-practices. Soil, mechanisation and quality seed are three important factors, he said and opined that ‘desi chasa’ (traditional farming) is the best alternative and the future of farming.
“Revival of soil fertility, use of indigenous seeds and organic manure, rainwater harvesting and organic farming are the need of the hour to arrest the impact of global warming and climate change in agri sector,” he said.
Former Finance Minister Panchanan Kanungo inaugurated the event. Chairman of CPGA Tejeswar Parida reviewed the economic survey of 2019-20 with a focus on agriculture.