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MS Swaminathan Committee Report on Agriculture: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai?

Professor of Financial Economics and Part-time Value Investor, Transfin.
Mar 12, 2018 11:20 AM 3 min read
Editorial

There are four demands made by farmers from across Maharashtra who arrived in Mumbai on foot today early morning.

 

  1. Complete waiver of farm loans and power bills
  2. Fair price for farm produce
  3. Introduction of a pension scheme for farmers
  4. Recommendations of the MS Swaminathan Committee Report

 

While the first three points are self-explanatory, what is this report being referred?

 

MS Swaminathan Report on Agriculture: Background

 

Prof. MS Swaminathan, a leading Geneticist, headed the National Commission on Farmers. This commission submitted five reports from December 2004 to October 2006.

 

The final report investigates the drivers behind rising farmer distress and farmer suicides and makes some key recommendations within the purview of a holistic national policy for farmers.

 

The report concluded that the principal cause for farmer distress has been wide inequities in land ownership. Over 40% of farmer households only hold 3.8% of agricultural land. Other issues include water shortage, technology fatigue, lack of institutional credit etc.

 

Key Recommendations

 

Land reforms

The Distressed Indian Farmer: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai and Rallied for MS Swaminathan?

 

  • Distribute ceiling-surplus and waste lands

 

  • Prevent diversion of prime agricultural land and forest to corporate sector for non-agricultural purposes

 

  • Establish a National Land Use Advisory Service to link land use decisions with ecological meteorological and marketing factors on a location and season specific basis.

 

  • Set up a mechanism to regulate the sale of agricultural land, based on quantum of land, nature of proposed use and category of buyer

 

Water supply

The Distressed Indian Farmer: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai and Rallied for MS Swaminathan?
Source: By Skrissh2013 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

  • Reforms to enable farmers gain sustained and equitable access to water incl. rainwater harvesting, mandatory recharge of aquifers, increased investment

 

Productivity

The Distressed Indian Farmer: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai and Rallied for MS Swaminathan?
Source: By Tauno Erik - originally posted to Flickr as Põrrapõrra, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10435785

 

  •  Enhance productivity by increase public investment in agriculture-related infrastructure incl. drainage, land development, water conservation, R&D, road connectivity

 

Credit

The Distressed Indian Farmer: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai and Rallied for MS Swaminathan?

 

  • Reduce interest rate on crop loans to 4% flat, with government support

 

  • Moratorium on debt recovery, including loans from non-institutional sources, and waiver of interest on loans in distress hotspots and during calamities, till capability is restored

 

Food Security

The Distressed Indian Farmer: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai and Rallied for MS Swaminathan? 

  • Universal public distribution system

 

  • Formulate a National Food Guarantee Act

 

Price

The Distressed Indian Farmer: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai and Rallied for MS Swaminathan?

 

  • Setup Price Stabilisation Fund to protect farmers from price fluctuations

 

  • Quick action on import duties to protect farmers from International competition

 

  • Implement Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops other than paddy and wheat

 

  • Show data on spot and future prices of commodities through the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCD), the NCDEX and APMC electronic networks

 

Contingency

The Distressed Indian Farmer: Why 35,000 Farmers Walked to Mumbai and Rallied for MS Swaminathan?

 

  • Setup an Agricultural risk fund to give relief during instances of successive natural calamities

 

  • Credit-crop-livestock-human health insurance

 

  • Focused Market Intervention Schemes (MIS) in case of life-saving crops such as cumin in arid areas

 

Source: PRS Legislative Research