National Comission on Farmers
“Faster and more inclusive growth”
The National Commission on Farmers (NCF) was constituted on November 18, 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M.S. Swaminathan.
The NCF submitted four reports and final report was submitted on October 4, 2006
The major causes of the agrarian crisis are:
Unfinished agenda in land reform, quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit, and opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing.
Land Reforms were considered necessary and key suggestions in this regards were to
- Distribute ceiling-surplus and waste lands;
- Prevent diversion of prime agricultural land and forest to corporate sector for non-agricultural purposes.
- Ensure grazing rights and seasonal access to forests to tribals and pastoralists, and access to common property resources.
Irrigation is considered as key factor of agriculture as rainfed agriculture contributes to 60 per cent of the gross cropped area on which NCF recommends :
- Increase water supply through rainwater harvesting and recharge of the aquifer should become mandatory ; “Million Wells Recharge” programme, specifically targeted at private wells should be launched.
Credit and Insurance :
Timely and adequate supply of credit is a basic requirement of small farm families.
- Expand the outreach of the formal credit system to reach the really poor and reduce rate of interest for crop loans to 4 per cent simple, with government support.
- Moratorium on debt recovery, including loans from non-institutional sources, and waiver of interest on loans in distress hotspots and during calamities, till capability is restored.
- Establish an Agriculture Risk Fund to provide relief to farmers in the aftermath of successive natural calamities
Productivity of Agriculture:
Apart from the size of holding, the productivity levels primarily determine the income of the farmers.In order to achieve higher growth in productivity in agriculture NCF recommends:
- Substantial increase in public investment in agriculture related infrastructure particularly in irrigation, drainage, land development, water conservation, research development and road connectivity etc. ;A national network of advanced soil testing laboratories with facilities for detection of micronutrient deficiencies.
The Mid-term appraisal of the 10th Plan revealed that India is lagging behind in achieving the Millennium Development Goals of halving hunger by 2015.
- Eliminate micronutrient deficiency induced hiddenhunger through an integrated food cum fortification approach.
- Promote the establishment of Community Food and Water Banks operated by Women Self-help Groups (SHG), based on the principle ‘Store Grain and Water everywhere’
Price control and Contingency:
- Improving the competitiveness of the small farmers was considered necessary. Suggestions in this area included: improvement in implementation of Minimum Support Price (MSP); MSP should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production; availability of data about spot and future prices of commodities through the Multi Commodity Exchange (MCD) and the NCDEX, etc.
- The committee highlighted the need to create productive employment opportunities and to improve the quality of employment in several sectors such that real wages rise through improved productivity. For this purpose committee recommended emphasizing on relatively more labour intensive sectors and inducing a faster growth of these sectors and ensuring that the net take home income of farmers should be comparable to those of civil servants.
- The committee also recommended development of measures to reserve traditional rights of access to biodiversity and conservation, enhancement and improvement of crops, farm animals & fish stocks through breeding, etc