“Krishi Jagruti” Scheme - Own your Farm as a Share Holder

“Krishi Jagruti” Scheme - Own your Farm as a Share Holder by Maj P. Tuhinikar Choudary (Retd)  Chairman - Institute for Democratic & Economic Affairz (IDEAz) www.ideaz4india.com Summary: A practical and actionable solution to the Agriculture and Farmer problem.
  1. Agriculture faces the stress of smaller and uneconomical land holdings and of ever growing demands, from the ever growing population dependant on each acre, for food grains, proteins and fruits etc. the tiny farm land holdings, increased costs and scarcity of labour and low revenues all leading to ever increasing farmer distress and even to farmer suicides.
  2. Given the aspirations of the youth and opportunities for them elsewhere, and the Government schemes for labourers, there is, and will increasingly be, an acute shortage of agricultural labour. Hence the necessity for industrialization / mechanization of farms.
  3. We therefore need to take up farm land pooling into Corporations to allow for mechanization and to avail the benefits of economics of scale, thereby allowing the farmer the same benefits he was earlier having as a owner, only now as a share holder in a larger and more viable farm.
  4. The Government should either subsidize or organize long term borrowings for such Corporate farms to allow them to undertake the initial costs for leveling and contouring the land and of creation of rain water storage facilities etc. The Government should also make necessary changes in the taxation, tenancy and land ceiling laws.
  5. The Government should also aim at Providing Urban Amenities in Rural areas as President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had called for. This would greatly encourage off-farm employment in the rural areas in various MSME’s that will be needed to meet the maintenance and operational needs of the Corporate Farms, and will also provide other employment to the rural youth and thereby greatly reduce emigration and encourage keeping the families together even as fewer of them actually work on the farm itself.
Highlights:
  1. The need for greater production in every field has resulted in industrialized and even automated processes leading to greater production even with lesser human employment. The manufacture of cloth from a Handloom cottage process into an industry to meet the ever growing demand and to reduce costs is an example of Industrialization. Hence, like for cloth, the need for increased agricultural production will have to come from industrialization of Agriculture with increased automation and lesser human employment. This is already evident. Closing our eyes to such a natural progression and trying to think that giving farmers greater sops and subsidies and loan waivers will solve the problem has, these past years proved futile. We therefore need to look at alternative solutions.
  2. Also as population has grown, from less than 30 Crores in 1947 to about 130 Crores today, the demand for Food Production has greatly increased. Such demand growth cannot be met by the old ways of farming especially as the land holding of each farmer has drastically reduced. Increase in agricultural production can only be met by industrializing / mechanizing Agricultural operations.
  3. Agriculture is not remunerative enough for most farmers today. This leads to the majority of the youth from Farmer families emigrating to urban areas. Also in many extreme cases it leads to the rising incidence of farmer suicides, especially amongst the tenant farmers.
  4. Giving subsidy to fertilizer Companies has led to over use of fertilizers, destruction of soil and water bodies and increased cost of farming.
  5. We need a proper Action Plan, to not only make agriculture profitable, but also revive the rural economy to allow it to have greater employment potential and also to provide many of the urban amenities there itself, to prevent emigration to urban areas and keep families together.  
Quotations for Considerations:
  • “Everything else can wait but Agriculture” - Jawaharlal Nehru
  • “Agriculture not only gives riches to a Nation, but the only riches she can call her OWN” - Dr. Samuel Johnson.
  • “Whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.” - Jonathan Swift.
  • “Agricultural land will continue to be less and less important as an economic asset, relative to the total value of all other economic assets” - Julian Simon. Hence, a way must be found to enable it to also become a valuable economic asset.
  • “If you do the same thing, the same way, in similar circumstances, you will only get the same results. Seek to do things differently to get different and better results” - Anon.
Back Ground: In the old days wealth came mainly from Agriculture (Jai Kisan!) and to some extent from extraction of forest produce and minerals and their transformation into useful products (Jai Udyogan!) Of course to ensure that such wealth remained that of the State whose people brought about it and, was not confiscated or otherwise taken away by people from elsewhere, the State had to have a protection and security force, the Military (Jai Jawan!). The Bengal famine caused by the British confiscating the food grains from India for their War effort elsewhere must be remembered. Today the wealth in large amounts comes also directly from the intellect and artifice of the people, as ideas, technology and design and utilization of computers and information technology and automation, that allows for greater efficiency of use of available resources leading to greater productivity and improved and longer lasting products. Such factors must also be made applicable to Agriculture and Agricultural wealth also be similarly increased. Unfortunately the Agriculturalists have mostly not got the benefit of increase in this kind of wealth, because they are not participants in it. It is but natural that if you are not standing in the queue or sitting at the banquet table, you will not be served. Today we need to help the Agriculturalists to a better understanding of the situation they are in now and what is likely to happen in the coming few years, and plan accordingly in order to enable them to enjoy a better and more productive life while still continuing to be involved / associated with Agriculture. Every farmer needs to realize that whether they like it or not such consolidation and mechanization will be the reality within a generation. Hence it is better to recognize the inevitability and do what needs to be done at the earliest in a properly planned manner. Those who disagree with such a pooling proposal should ask themselves the question – ‘What will happen to your Farm with the continuing unavailability of labour and the unwillingness of the next generation to take up of farming, who will then look after the farm and what will be its condition. The answer underscores the inevitability and urgency. The Agricultural Lands Ceiling Act of 1971, limiting the holding of Agricultural land to 18 standard acres (irrigated) or 54 acres (Dry) may have helped breakup a few Zamindari holdings in some parts of the Country that benefited a few land tillers, but across the majority of the Country it did nothing else but within a few generations reduced the land holdings to unviable small plots. Today most of our farmers are marginal farmers with holdings of less than one tenth of a hectare to 2 hectares or, are the even more stressed tenant farmers. Their desperation makes them focus on the plant or crop and not on the soil, and hence seek more fertilizer whereas if they could have maintained their soil right they would have helped their crops grow much better. The small farmers are also not able to gain access to resources and technologies due to lack of financial ability and knowledge. Unfortunately, the Government also prevents them from marketing their produce where they can get better prices, it compels them to market through local market yards / mandi’s. This restriction needs to be removed. These conditions lead to many farmers resorting to ‘adharmic’ and many maleficent and unethical practices such as adulteration, artificial colouring of fruits and vegetables, use of chemicals and hormones for forced ripening and over use of pesticides and fertilizers. Also, availing unrepayable loans and then to demand that the Government waive the loans, or fall into despair and commit suicide. The loan waiver schemes are obviously very unfair to the many farmers who had repaid their loans and who now would also be encouraged to join the others and stand-in-line for a loan waiver / handout, further adding to the burden on the Government. Such loan waiver schemes, increasing of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and procuring stock that the Government is unable to store and distribute effectively are not the real answer, only being short term temporary measures ‘band aids’ that do not address the real cause. The Government now needs to recognize its predecessor Governments failing in this regard and work to make farms large enough to be viable and profitable again, especially in these times of growing population, disappearing agricultural labour and, hence the need for proper land and crop management and for extensive mechanization, intensive cultivation perhaps also combined with dairy, psiculture, apiary etc as applicable. The real solution is to be found in better utilization of all available resources, as given below. But before considering the solution we need to take a look at what such a solution should provide. Key Concepts:
  1. Greatly increasing Agricultural / Horticultural production, through sustainable practices is essential to meet the demand of food for our ever growing population and their ever growing demand for more proteins and calories and fruits.
  2. Keeping Agro costs low means increasing Farm productivity and, in view of the Population shift to Urban areas and the resulting increased costs of scarce Agricultural Labour, increasing mechanization. Also migration of youth seeking Urban employment leaves the land in care of the very old or the very young. Hence requiring changes in tenancy and ownership rules and promotion of non-farm rural business to also keep the families together by providing employment in the small towns is also necessary.
  3. The need to revive our many traditional seed varieties and their vitality and maintain our crop diversity must be recognized and encouraged. It is perhaps true that GM Technology has many benefits, but the danger of un-intended Hybridization in adjacent crops, increasing resistance of the pests to the chemicals used, the vulnerability of crop mono-culture and increased dependence of farmers on the GM seed producers due to the ‘Terminator’ gene added in by the Seed Companies only to protect their own commercial interests, and also on newer chemicals, are all ever present in GM Technologies and need to be addressed before allowing wide spread application of such technologies.GM crop technology can surely be developed without the ‘Terminator’ gene, thus making the farmer a partner rather than just a customer to be taken advantage of. The CRISPER - CAS 9 gene editing technology may be used for better GM products.     R & D in this field should be encouraged and led by the Government Laboratories in Agricultural Universities and even Private Corporations. However the resultant plants should not be patented or if allowed it should be for not more than say 3 years. Alternately the Government can buy out the technology from Private Corporations and offer it free to the Agriculturists as a subsidy.
  4. Many International Organizations such as IFAP / UNCTAD/ UNEP have determined that neither GM Technologies nor large scale Industrialized Farming can alone meet our future food needs. Only sustainable Agro practices of “Small Farmers, improving on traditional knowledge and maintaining Plant diversity can do so.” Ofcourse new technologies, including good GM and gene-editing Technology will help, and ‘Small’ would mean economically sized as appropriate to the location and type of soil. 50 to 100 Hectares of horticultural or hilly area farms or even up to 1000 Hectares in plains could be considered small in comparison to farm sizes abroad.
  5. In order to extract the last grain of output from the small land holdings, the concepts of some portion of the land being kept fallow to allow for proper regeneration of soil and, of check dams and ponds for rain harvesting and proper water management etc, are today forgotten.
  6. Instead, the farmers have fallen prey to the extensive marketing strategies of the Fertilizer and Seed and other so-called Agro-product Companies, who receive their subsidy directly from the Government, to increase the use of such products to compensate for the lack of soil vitality. Leading to pollution of the ground water and also of the water flow into lakes and rivers and thus to the death of aquatic life therein.
  7. As it is, the availability of labour, in these days of Government subsidized labour schemes, is either very scarce and, if at all available, is becoming unaffordable. This situation is becoming worse day by day. In such circumstances, increased production can only be met by industrialized / mechanized farming.
  8. Optimization of Farm / Agro production should be considered under 3 scales of operation;
    1. Land intensive - grains and other bulk agro products
    2. Capital intensive - processed and Green-house agro products
    3. Labour intensive - vegetables, fruits, tea, aquaculture and such products.
Specific plans, policies and regulations should be worked out and implemented for each of them as appropriate.
  1. Improving farm profitability, would also greatly reduce the emigration to urban areas by the rural youth, by providing off farm employment in those areas itself, in the many job opportunities that would open up, once the ability to spend is present. These will be the many jobs in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) enterprises that will be set up to meet the needs of the farms, or even in the schools, colleges, clinics, department stores and entertainment facilities that would be coming up there once the spending power increases. Additionally even sorting, cleaning and packing operations can be encouraged to provide employment to rural women.
This too is the aim of the present Government. Key Metrics:
  1. Food prices are projected to increase 50-100 percent over the next 10 years even as Agro-productivity is only decreasing and Agro costs increasing. Hence using arable land for other than Food production (eg: for Fuel - Ethanol and Bio-diesel from edible oil seeds such as Palm or Soya) is being short sighted. Of course Agro waste and seeds of Jahoba trees grown in non arable land can be so used.
  2. India has 11 percent more arable Land than China, yet China produces:- 11 times more meat, 9 times more maize, 1.5 times more other cereals, 2 times more cotton. Only in milk production is India twice that of China and it remains ahead of China in the quantity of Fruits, Vegetables, Pulses, Spices and Tea, but even here not in productivity per hectare. In many of the crops India is the number one producer in the world but much of the produce is lost to wastage and bad storage etc.
  3. India produces 2.91 Kgs of Rice / ha while China produces 6.33 Kgs / ha. India produces 266 Kgs of Cotton / ha while China produces 943 Kgs / ha, and such productivity differences can be seen across almost all crops.
  4. China has most of its arable Land under Irrigation and uses 6 to 7 times as many Tractors and twice the quantity of Fertilizers than India. However, the over use of chemical and petroleum based Fertilizers has already led to much environmental damage in China, something we need to guard against.
  5. Fertilizer use - 10 units of Nitrogen to 1 unit of Phosphorous (from Phosphate, an already very scarce item). Only 30% of Nitrogen fertilizer is actually taken up by the plant. The excess Nitrogen and Phosphorous run off in to the water system is most damaging to the entire ecology. Drip irrigation with fertilizers added to water as required would be better. Development of natural farming techniques as demonstrated by Prof. G. V. Ramanjaneyulu, Shri. Dnyaneshwar Bodke of Abhinav Farmer’s Group, Shri Nagratnam Naidu of Taramatipet Village, Telangana and many other such advisors, to Farmer Producer Organizations and the suggested corporations will be even better.
  6. The value of water embedded into a farm product (eg: Apple - 5 Ltrs, 1 Kg Rice - 2500 Ltrs, 1 Kg wheat - 500 to 4000 ltrs, 1 Kg Potatoes - 290 ltrs, 1 Kg meat - 10,400 ltrs, 1 Kg Pork – 6000 ltrs, 1 Kg Chicken - 4300 ltrs) must be considered along with the value of other more easily measurable items such as Chemicals and Fertilizers, Labour and Power and Fuel etc and also the Transportation costs.
  7. Intensive farming saves Nature. Matt Ridley notes that - in 2005, twice as much grain was produced from the same acreage as in 1968. Consider, if the average yields of 1961 had still prevailed in 1988, then to feed 6 billion people would have required 7.9 billion acres instead 3.7 actually used. Today people farm only 38 percent of the land area of the Earth, whereas at 1961 yields they would have had to farm 82 percent. Intensification has thus saved 44 percent of the planet for wilderness and afforestation.
  8. Due to advantageous climatic conditions most of India’s arable land allows for year round cultivation, thus allowing 3 crops per year if properly irrigated, compared to only 5 to 7 months in most other Countries. Imagine then our potential to increase Agricultural production.
Key Objectives:
  1. Adequate Agricultural / Horticultural production through sustainable practices is essential to meet the increasing demand of food for our ever growing population.
  2. Keeping Agro costs low means increasing Farm productivity by Land pooling, industrialization / mechanization.
  3. An Agriculturalist obtains three benefits from his land ownership:
    1. The pride and satisfaction of being a land owner, however small and poor his holding may be.
    2. The satisfaction of knowing that by working on it, he is able to produce proportionate benefit for himself and his country and, if he so desires, part with some of the benefits by share cropping with Tenant farmers.
    3. The sense of security that it provides, that when the need arises, he can raise money to tide him over by mortgaging or even selling his land.
Any solution that we recommend today, must continue to provide the same benefits and also effectively resolve the other issues raised above. In most of the developed countries the percentage of population involved in farming has drastically reduced over the generations. In USA in 1900 it was 85 percent as it was in India till a generation or so ago. Today the US the population involved in farming is less than 2 percent, while in India it has come down to 60 percent and reducing. In the US farmers used to be paid / subsidized to not farm all their land in order to maintain product prices. This is something we cannot even imagine doing in India. Of course their farms are highly mechanized and benefit from economies of scale but the very large farms there, face the risks that come with mono crop cultivation. Perhaps our proposed solutions should also be larger farms than we have today, but not too large, and adequately mechanized, so as to lead to higher and better productivity, better utilization of all resources especially the increasingly scarce manpower, and the strength and ability to better deal with the market, both with the suppliers and purchasers while still maintaining the diversity of the produce grown thereon. We should learn from Israel and China and also from other farmers in our Country who have attained such higher productivity with lesser insecticides / weedicides and artificial fertilizers. Just raising the MSP and providing increased subsides and loan waivers to the farmers, does not address the real issues of need for mechanization to replace unavailable labour. Farming is seen as back breaking dawn to dusk labour which even the next generation of farmers do not want to do. We too have to plan for farms to be run by say, only 10 percent of our population and yet greatly increase our agro production. Industrialization of Agriculture is the only way. Points for Consideration:
  • Irrigation and better water management, including eliminating harmful runoff of excess fertilizer and pesticides etc into underground and surface water bodies. Today Agriculture consumes 75 percent of available water, versus 7 percent for domestic consumption and 18 percent for industry. Hence even a 30 to 50 percent reduction in agricultural water consumption will greatly improve water availability for domestic consumption. Our farmers are today wasteful in their use of water. We should learn from Israel.
  • Intensive cultivation - hybrid and fortified varieties including those from revived traditional seed varieties and, from proper GM and gene editing Technology. Certified seeds, soil conservation and better agro advisory services. Again we should learn from Israel.
  • Work to prevent loss of top soil and even improve it by taking up composting, mulching and vermiculture and also ‘No till’ farming, in which the new seeds are planted using seed drills and fertilizer deposited via injectors or drip irrigation. Encouraging tree farming (horticulture and orchards) will increase water retention and improve soil fertility.
  • Increased productivity - consolidation of fragmented “small” holdings and Mechanization, all affording the benefits from economy of sale.
  • Research to convert seasonal crops into perennial crops which hold soil and need less water due to their deep roots.  
  • Proper logistics chain for effective movement from ‘farm to fork’ - cold stores / transportation / retail chains and allow the farmer to market his produce where and as he deems fit.
  • Government Institutions for soil testing, seed development, extension training to farmers etc must be made more effective.
  • Encouraging entrepreneurs to set up of MSME units to manufacture and maintain all types of agro machines and storage sorting, packing and storage facilities.
To meet the projected Agri / Horticultural demands for an ever growing population, with an ever reducing number of labourers for Agricultural work, it becomes vital for us in India to take up Irrigation Projects and encourage mechanized farming much more determinedly and in a more productive and sustainable manner than heretofore, but on a scale workable, individually or as corporations / Agri businesses, (with land extent of between 50 to 1000 hectares depending on soil conditions and irrigation potential and whether in the hills or plains, and allowing for economy of operation), not extraordinarily large mono crop industrial farms as in the USA and Australia. Consolidation / Pooling and equitable sharing would be essential for those farmers with very small holdings. There are many stories of Indian farmers who have been innovative in adapting and improving traditional agro practices and who have been able to increase their production per acre many fold, from even marginal soils, using less water, fertilizer and other resources and retaining the soil fertility at good levels and nurturing plant diversity and using sustainable and environment friendly agro practices. (eg: Dr. D.B Desai’s work on locally genetically modified cotton seed). We need to recognize and reward (not only financially) such inspiring and innovative farmers and widely disseminate knowledge of their methods to attain such success, for emulation by others. We need to note that today organic farming uses more resources than are usually recognized, fields to grow the fodder for the cattle that produce the manure that becomes the fertilizer, and so on, and not just jump on to a nice seeming ‘band-wagon’. Of course incorporating dairy into such Corporate farms can also be considered. Also the over use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides etc should be avoided and ancient natural practices encouraged wherever possible. We need infrastructure to be able to store, process and transport the farm produce in a safe, hygienic and speedy manner. Since the Government cannot do so all by itself, it is necessary that it lays down proper regulations for each such activity, designate a statutory agency to monitor the implementation, and allow Private agencies of procurement to tie up with appropriate Companies to create the Infrastructure and collect rent / toll thereon. Excessive regulation in Land records / Holdings and Subsidies should be eliminated. Proper agricultural extension training for Water management, Fertilizer use, Crop rotation and other best practices should be encouraged more extensively. Studies should also be encouraged, in Molecular and Biological Research, in Plant Chemistry, in natural methods of plant pollination and pest control, in addition to good GM and gene editing technologies, and in traditional and also modern methods of enriching the soil, and in new scientific methods to fix nitrogen from the air in plants or in the fertilizers for the plants, and for fortifying the food crops with essential micro-nutrients. Crop Insurance must be made available and encouraged. Loans to farmers and their Agro Corporations should be made conveniently available at reasonable interest. Farmers should be also encouraged to form themselves into Corporations, holding shares therein proportionate to their land holdings and other contributions and electing a Board from amongst themselves, and the Corporations run professionally by a Management Team or an Executive Board appointed by mean Board. This would also be effective in hilly regions with smaller holdings. The land owners in such Corporations will each thus have the authority, and share in the dividends, as a share holder. This will eliminate land fragmentation into uneconomical sizes due to family divisions and will also allow for mechanized farming and for land to be properly utilized for check dams and rain water storage etc. To ensure proper commitment, the shareholder must be a land holder / farmer of that locality and must be restricted from selling his share for at least 5 years and even after that preferably to only locals. Today’s Farmer Producer Organizations need to transform themselves into such Corporations to effectively enjoy economies of scale and operate over the long term. This can only be possible if such corporations be also exempted from income tax. The farmers and their Agro Corporations should also be encouraged to undertake contract farming for various Agro product buyers. Companies should also be suitably incentivized to setup the infrastructure required for storing, processing and handling all farm produce from the ‘Farm to the Fork’. The many thousands of Crores worth of agro products now wasted will easily cover the cost of such incentives for a few years. Thereafter it will all become savings for the Country. The Action Plan:
  1. To ensure the practice of proper farming methods, we need consolidation of the small and uneconomic land holdings. To benefit from the economics of scale, the farm should be at least 100 to 1000 hectares. The bigger the better but not too big either. Every village area should be consolidated into at least 2 or 3 large farms to allow for maintaining the diversity of crops.
  2. Ofcourse smaller boutique farms of 50 to 100 hectares may also be viable, especially for Horticulture and specialist agro products, and in Hilly areas, but such farms are not many and here we consider the majority of farms which are in the general agricultural production.
Encourage intensive and combined horticulture farming and psiculture in such farms, the best practices for water and resource conservation. Learn from innovative farmers such as Shri Viswanadha Raju of M/s Kravis Aqua has who has developed a Recirculating Aqua System (RAS) for Psiculture and also practices intensive Organic horticulture using minimal water.
  1. The land pooling concept for dry land farmers was very successfully done by the farmers of Magarpetta near Pune. Ofcourse this pooling was done there for a housing project and not for farming but the aim was the same, to help and benefit the small land owners. Many Farmer Producers Organizations are also arising across the Country.
  2. Large scale farms will be possible if all or most of the farm owners of a village or small town, be willing to pool their lands into 2 or 3 Companies or Corporations, definitely not into Cooperatives which have mostly not lived up to expectations. Cooperatives, very soon become fiefdoms of the rich and influential farmers at the cost of the small farmers. Each farm owner would be allocated an equity holding proportionate to the size, location, type of holding (wet, irrigated, or dry etc) and with a weightage for condition of soil.
These parameters could easily be determined by a small committee of local farmers themselves with help from the Revenue and Agricultural Department officials. Such Corporations can each be managed by, its own Team of Professionals selected by the Board of the Corporation or by an Executive Board of professionals appointed or selected by a Management firm willing to take on this task. In such Companies. The General Body Meetings of the shareholders (erstwhile farm owners) can be mandated to be held twice a year, prior to the Crop cycles, for better transparency and confidence building. Also, though all decisions can be taken by strength of share holding, the election to the Board of the Corporations should only be by secret ballot every two years and on one share holder one vote basis, despite the size of the share holding. This will prevent domination by the larger share holders.
  1. In addition, in order to maintain a sense of ownership of each farmer, whatever his/her shareholding, it would require the Corporation to build a Guest House with rooms and suites whish can be rented to the farmer on payment, as he / she may require for up to a week or two in a year. This would enable him / her to stay at the farm, perhaps with his/her children or grand children and show them his/her farm and its working by walking about on the farm and even pick or buy its produce for home consumption at subsidized rates. He / she could also describe how farm life was in their farming days.
  2. For the first 5 years No equity share holder can sell his equity, except perhaps to another share holder of the Company. However to prevent exploitation, no share holder should be allowed to at anytime own more than 20 percent of the shares of the Corporation. The Auditors of the Company will, every year, fix the value of the share. The share holder may avail a loan against the mortgage of his shares with the Company if he so desires at not more than 50 percent of the value as declared regularly say every 6 months by the Companies Auditors. The end use of such loans should be verified by the Company, or a farmers committee set up by it, to avoid misuse.
  3. It is therefore now time that the present Government, both Central and State, to pool many of the existing subsidy, loan waiver and rural development schemes into a fund for this purpose, perhaps even contribute more to enable the “Krishi Jagruti” scheme, as recommended below to become viable and effective, for the benefit of the farmers and of the rural towns and villages and also of the Country. Just the savings from the many thousands of crores of agro products that go waste in our Country every year and the increase in the productivity under such a scheme, would more than justify the initial subsidy. Long term loans to such Corporations, from the Government or NABARD or other financial sector institutions could be additional avenues to be looked at.
  4. The Government must call on all Agricultural experts, and professional managers and farm equipment and consumables suppliers to take a fresh view on this “Krishi Jagruti’scheme and work with the farmers and the farm products consuming Corporations etc, to enable the farmers to continue to be owners, with all the benefits thereof, and yet be able to enjoy a better life for themselves and their families.
The Government, under the ‘Krishi Jagruti’ scheme should prepare the necessary legal and regulatory framework and also reserve a percentage of the budget both at the Centre and the States to fund the initial stages of the land pooling, and development costs for making small unviable holdings into large viable farms, across the Country. Agriculture being a State subject, each State should be encouraged to follow the Central guidelines of the ‘Krishi Jagruti’ scheme and make it effective within their State. No tax other than GST as applicable need be collected from such Farms. A minimum GST, at say 1 percent for all, open/unprocessed and unpackaged products, is essential as it would allow for proper monitoring as required and at say 5 percent for all packaged produce or products. This could extend to Horticulture and Hydroponic agriculture too and the assistance of many of the successful farmers, who have outstanding production results and very admirable environmental practices, be taken. Such farmers should be better recognized and honoured and called up on to join the overall development effort. Finally, when deemed appropriate, such Farm Corporations or Companies could also be allowed, under proper regulation to ensure the shares remain in resident Indian hands only, preferably still local and to ensure that this is not treated as short term investments, they must be locked in for at least 3 years on each transfer and, to enter the Stock Market and make their shares available there. This will provide a better valued exit option to those of the farmer share holders who desire to do so.
  1. The land would need leveling and contouring for proper farming and irrigation and water harvesting etc. this will be taken up by the Management in the first year of Incorporation.
Hence the Company may or may not payout any dividend the first year of operation, but from the second year, will payout a dividend as they deem fit and which is decided on after any non-binding suggestions from the share holders but as finally decided by their Board. For most of the first year after Incorporation, the farmers will continue to farm their holdings for themselves. This time is required for the Management to tie up all the other details and execute necessary works as required. Some shares of such corporations, say 20 percent, could be allowed to be held by an Agricultural Mutual Fund (MF) which could hold equity of upto, say 5 - 10 such Farm Corporations spread over various regions. The shares of such MF’s could be allowed to be traded in the Equity markets to allow better valuation of the share holdings of the constituent Farm Corporations. This would help the Corporations to also raise funds from the Financial Institutions.
  1. The Company will strive to tie-up contracts with purchasers for their produce. As farmers in Punjab and elsewhere have done with Corporations like Pepsi, or undertake direct marketing themselves as is being done by the SAHAYA AHARAM project guided by Shri. G. V. Ramanjaneyulu and Abhinav Farmer’s Group and the many other Farmer Producer Organizations across the Country.
  2. The Farmer shareholders who may also volunteer to work for the Company on the land should be remunerated as the Company deems fit. They, like the other shareholders, will also continue to get dividends as declared. Tenant farmers can also be employed to work on the farm up they so choose.
  3. The Company will work with the Agriculture and Soil scientists to improve the soil, utilize the land efficiently to attain to better productivity with care for environmental issues.
  4. As much of the work as possible should be outsourced to properly selected contractors and the burden of cold storage, direct marketing, food processing and mechanization of farm work taken up by the Company only when it is deemed advantageous to it.
  5. Farm Equipment suppliers (drip irrigation, etc) and other suppliers can be asked to provide the facilities to be paid out as a long term (3 to 5 years) loan arrangement against such a contract the suppliers can raise their own funds.
  6. If the Company is large enough, it may also consider encouraging the setting up small enterprises, perhaps by the farmer’s families themselves, to provide services in maintenance and operation on the farm and thus discourage emigration to urban areas and keep the families together. Its CSR efforts can easily benefit the locality. This will help encourage an equity culture in the locality / region.
  7. The Company can work with the Government and Politicians (using MPLAD funds), on schemes, as approved by the General Body, which having a local influence, can push for. To set up skilling centres and education and health facilities etc in the locality.
Conclusion: Such a ‘Krishi Jagruti’, scheme with proper water harvesting, irrigation and soil conservation methods would definitely take advantage of the great percentage of arable land in our Country (49 percent versus 14 percent in China and 18 percent in USA) and the almost year round farming our climate allows. It can also take advantage of the extraordinary diversity of crops and plants in our Country and can be encouraged using the latest gene-editing techniques for better yields without the disadvantages of the present GM practices that use random ‘Shotgun’ techniques and end up with many negative traits and that also have a terminator gene preventing the farmer from using his own seeds. This would also increase the incomes of all our farmers as shareholders in large profitable agro-enterprises. It would also help develop small towns and large villages into centres of prosperity. Land, as a measure of wealth and as a means of security, can now be replaced by share holding (equity) in such Agro-ventures which now becomes the ‘New Land’, a more effective, convenient and fungible measure of wealth and security. This would lead to increased productivity, better utilization of resources including man power, better water management, better agro practices with, lesser or even nil use of chemicals thus leading to improved environment and greatly increased agro production, all to make India once again into an agricultural power house. Jai Jawan! Jai Kisan! Jai Udyogan! Jai Hind!
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