Ajay Vir Jakhar (for Info only, not official)

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Ajay Vir Jakhar

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    ... Farmers from across the country are out on Delhi’s streets agitating just as the deliberations for the 2018 budget are beginning and it’s time to seek solutions to the structural issues that plague the system. The “one-size-fits-all” policy created for the farm sector is self-destructive in design and programmes meant to double farmer incomes are collapsing. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY) is a classic case where the best intentions of the prime minister were muddled in the policy’s fine-print. The PMFBY is designed to provide crop insurance and the Central government shares part of the premium subject to conditions. To receive the Central government’s share, the state has to walk the dotted line, come hell or high water; whether the region is rain-fed or irrigated; whether the cropping density is less than 100 per cent or upwards of 200 per cent. ...

    Indian Express on Nov. 21, 2017, 12:50 a.m.

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    ... Although autarky on Indian farms is a distant dream, as the 71st year of Independence dawns, penury-ridden farmers are still committing suicide by the thousands— a consequence of decades of short-sightedness, while economists and scientists are still equating food sufficiency to farmer sustainability. The occasion merits introspection on the core issues of farmers’ distress. We must begin at the apex. The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) mandate is agriculture education, research and farm extension. It contributed during the most challenging years of food scarcity. Though that success came at an environmental cost we didn’t understand that when we were succeeding. The Green Revolution and a few small triumphs aren’t enough to justify the status quo. ICAR is no more the holy cow it once was, it can be safely taken to the slaughter house. ...

    Indian Express on Aug. 8, 2017, 1:04 a.m.

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    ... There is no proof required that economists commenting on farmer issues have reached an affliction point. When the counsellor one seeks advice from is as callous as saying that the farmers’ agitation was political and justifies it by citing declining farmer suicides and rising farmer prosperity (‘Just why are farmers rioting?’ by Surjit Bhalla, IE, June 10), one can’t but respond. The decline in farmer suicides is a classic case of selectively torturing data when the same data proves farmer suicides increased by 42 per cent in 2015. After 2014, farmer suicides are enumerated separately from that of agriculture labour, so the disparity in suicide data. Many states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Odisha have even refused to record farmer suicides and now under-report. ...

    Indian Express on June 20, 2017, 12:20 a.m.

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    ...The industry strategy on fertiliser subsidy is similar to the tobacco industry’s response to cancer claims since 1954. Robert Proctor, a historian at Stanford coined the term “agnotology”, that is, when ignorance is produced and indisputable facts do not win arguments. Proponents of the “Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) of Fertiliser Subsidy” pilot claim it generates point of sale farmer traceability to stops leakages. This, while good, does not present the complete picture. The truth is that DBT is about transferring benefits to the fertiliser industry. The fertiliser subsidy DBT pilot project in 17 districts is a well-planned Trojan Horse. It is misleading as it doesn’t incorporate the draconian measures that will eventually be a part of the full roll-out. The final form of the DBT will allow the industry to price fertilisers at will, and the burden of collecting the subsidy will be transferred to farmers. ...

    Indian Express on March 31, 2017, 12:05 a.m.

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    ...Perhaps he was referring to those advocating a ban on GM research in India.After all, Rao has vehemently urged a five-fold increase in funding for research and development in agriculture.That includes research on GM crops.On the food front, we have only been able to sustain ourselves because of the hard work of farmers and because of improvements in farm technologies.The world spends about $50 billion a year on food and farming science; it spends more on cosmetics.The world spends about $1,750 billion a year on new weapons — that is 35 times more than the amount spent on food research.Agricultural investment is a drop in the ocean when one considers the quantity of finance available worldwide.In the next 50 years, we will need to produce as much food as we have in the last 10,000 years.In that time, the world population is likely to touch 10 billion, while India's population could go up to 1.8 billion.With the existing technologies, we can feed this magnitude, provided everything remained stagnant.But the ecosystem is in a perpetual state of flux. ...

    Indian Express on Nov. 27, 2013, 2:07 a.m.

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    ...The fact that it is suffering is also evident from the fact that food inflation is at a three-year high and supply is unable to keep up with the rising demand.Any strategy to rectify this problem must focus heavily on creating easy access to cheap credit for small and marginal farmers.R. Ramkumar, associate professor at TISS, has studied rural credit extensively and observed that the acceptance of a majority of the recommendations of the Narasimham Committee on Banking Sector Reforms resulted in diluting priority sector lending norms.This led to a large-scale closure of rural bank branches and skewed credit deployment.A lot that had been achieved, over several years, with respect to rural credit was reversed after the 1991 liberalisation by the then finance minister.The rate of growth of agricultural credit fell from 6.8 per cent to a meagre 2.6 per cent per annum between 1991 and 2001. ...

    Indian Express on Sept. 19, 2013, 12:18 a.m.