The new vision for the Agriculture Sector framed by The World Economic Forum is Food security, Economic Opportunity & Environmental Sustainability. This can be achieved only with the inclusion of farmer inputs & understanding their real (not perceived) needs & requirements at all levels & spheres.
Many call their business their babies. Do you know what farmers call their land? – their mother, god, their breath & their soul. Will not a farmer know about his land, soil, seeds & crops better than the other stake holders involved in this sector. All these years farmers have been made to use seeds, crops, equipment’s & funds that we thought would do them good. But has it made the sector any better? No. The industries associated with agriculture have made money selling their wares to the farmers, but the latter’s plight has been the same in spite of using what we term as better products & inputs.
This article is not written to point fingers or call anyone responsible to the state of agriculture in India but a pressing NEED to LISTEN, INVOLVE & ADOPT techniques, methods & requirements that are essential to the agricultural community. A farmer buys in retail, sells in wholesale & also pays the freight both ways. The past few centuries have witnessed selling of products that aren’t good not only for the farmers soil & pocket but also for the consumers & environment.
What is that farmers & consumers are entitled as their basic right?
Food Security– As for every citizen he/she should at all times have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.
As for the farming community food security in India is unfavourably affected by several biotic and socio-political situations. Moreover, public distribution and marketing of food grains and lack of a participatory approach all are committing to check down the availability of foods. For this to change all stake holders have to collectively find ways to improve the infrastructure, credit facilities, inputs, land and water management, storage, effective marketing, and price policies.
Economic Opportunity – agriculture produce like vegetables are purchased & consumed more on a daily basis in order to complete the consumers need & nutrient requirements. Consumers spend a considerable sum on agricultural produce. The patterns and decisions in purchasing and attitudes vary among the population & understanding; this is especially important in decision making along the supply chain and in development of policies. The behaviour of consumers is affected by the price, health factors, the quality of agriculture produce and other external factors that affect the situation. Consumers prefer to purchase a variety of agriculture produce particularly vegetables including the organically produced if they are affordable & make a difference to their health & environment.
As for the agriculture sector, to attain food security -economic growth and employment generation are of paramount importance. The policies should benefit the world’s poor keeping in mind that the cost of inactions is high. Lack of economic opportunities will create civil unrest and impeded human capital development. The integration of smallholders into markets will not only improve food security and flexibility to food price volatility but also improve incomes and create jobs in farming through strong multiplier effect in the rural sector.
Environmental Sustainability – a movement has arisen where consumers feel a need to change the way food is grown. There should be a conscious connect between consumer preference to farm profitability so that new technologies are adopted.
The organic market highlights the power of this connection where the organic consumers have demonstrated a willingness to pay a premium for crops grown in a way that benefits the environment. Consumer willingness to pay a premium price directly impacts the farming decisions of growers.
As for the farming community this connect will empower them. Digital technologies will allow for a direct connect between consumer preferences and how food is produced. Virtual supply chains, food system will see a tremendous increase in transparency. The essential connection between agricultural practice and consumer preference will dramatically accelerate the adoption of new sustainable technologies in agriculture. Farmers will be able to change their management practices and sell at higher prices. They will be able to break out of their old patterns and produce a more valuable crop — one that is environmentally sustainable. The result of this rejuvenated agriculture sector will not only feed the world, but in a way that is better for farmers, consumers, & the planet.