Published: 14th February 2019
Not just education, politicians' political will needed to help farmers: NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant
NITI Aayog's CEO was in conversation with MP Dr Anbumani Ramadoss and Columnist Shankkar Aiyar at TNIE's ThinkEdu Conclave 2019
The contentious issue of what we can do to help our farmers better their lot, found a lot of answers during a discussion on What we need to do to make India Incredible? at TNIE'S ThinkEdu Conclave 2019. The first panel of the day, chaired by Columnist Shankkar Aiyar, had NITI Aayog's Amitabh Kant in conversation with PMK MP and former Union Minister for Health, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss trading ideas.
Perhaps the most candid and hard-hitting one came from NITI Aayog's CEO Amitabh Kant, who said, "My belief is that agriculture requires a lot of technology in India — the first green revolution was a result of that. Indian needs cold storages, warehousing and scrapping of the APMC ACT to allow markets to work. (Currently) Markets don't work," responding to a question from a delegate on why India lags behind in produce per hectare when compared to a country like Israel.
Kant took it a notch higher and upped the honesty quotient, when he said, "It's not about education. There has to be political will by politicians like Mr Ramadoss and many more to allow markets to function so that producers get the right price. We have constrained our farmers too much by too many controls and that needs to be done away with," he said.
Ramadoss, who had done a lot of grassroots work with the farmers in his constituency, said that if the right price was paid for the farmer's produce, he wouldn't need any sops, "We need to respect farmers and give them their due. Somewhere the MSP has gone wrong, there is a huge gap between the produce and the price set by the government. He doesn't need any sops. He just needs the right price," he said.
Anbumani Ramadoss also pointed out how, despite high levels of produce, farmers barely benefit from it. “India produces the second highest amount of milk in the world, but less than 1 per cent is exported,” he said, pointing out how lack of storage facilities mars the high production of fruits and vegetables.
Pointing out that Tamil Nadu's tag of ‘most urbanised State in the country’ is because of high migration to the cities in search of jobs, Anbumani said that he would not consider it a sign of development.
“Reverse migration is a sign of development for me,” he said, claiming that it would be possible only if the government trains its eyes on the rural areas and makes agriculture a viable profession.