Farmers, like the rest of the country, have been suffering from decades of government mismanagement and incompetence. Instead of deepening markets and supporting them with free inflow of technology to deal with economic issues, governments have chosen to directly “solve” problems in a piece-meal manner through restrictions such as controlled prices and undue interference in the trade of agricultural inputs and produce. It is, however, impossible for any government to circumvent economic forces through such restrictions. The result is always worse than the problem it was intended to solve.
Such futile policies are implicated in the circumstances which led farmers recently to strike across Maharashtra. The only sustainable way to help farmers is to free them from draconian socialist restrictions and anti-farmer laws. The solution lies in fully implementing the Swarna Bharat Party manifesto, not in further restricting the market or in transferring public resources in an untargeted manner.
In addition to having the worst possible policies, governments in India have created huge obstacles for those who wish to start a manufacturing business. Poor infrastructure has compounded the problem. As a result, seventy years from independence, India has huge deficit of food storage and processing facilities.
Although governments may claim to promote agro-processing industries, a mere 2 to 3 per cent of India’s food output is being processed. Almost 30 per cent of total fruits and vegetables produced, amounting to Rs 600 billion, perish on the way to the market. As a result, prices plummet after a good agricultural harvest, forcing distress sales by farmers.
Dehydration techniques, both conventional and modern, can play a role in providing farmers with some control over their produce. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables have a much longer shelf life, even as they retain nutritional value. Setting up dehydration plants will boost rural employment, reduce farmers’ susceptibility to the vagaries of the weather, and reduce the monumental wastage of precious food in India.
The writer, Sanjay Sonawani, is an acclaimed author and historian.
He is an ex-industrialist and Senior Leader of the Swarna Bharat Party who now devotes his time to the cause of spreading liberal thought.
Tweet at Sanjay: @sanjaysonawani
In order to support farmers, Sanjay Sonawani – a specialist in dehydration technology – will lead an awareness mission across the country from July 2017, starting from Maharashtra, to explain good agricultural policies to farmers and bring awareness about dehydration techniques. Sanjay has invited socially aware entrepreneurs to actively get involved in supporting farmers by building food storage and processing facilities.
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