Loan write-offs don#39;t solve all problems, says MS Swaminathan

March 13
15:22 2018

The farmers in Maharashtra have called off their protest after the state government agreed to look into their demands. One of the key demands of the farmer community has been the implementation of the Swaminathan Panel report which ask that the minimum support price (MSP) should be 1.5 times to their cost of production.

CNBC-TV18’s Jude Sannith caught up with the renowned Agricultural Scientist and Author of the report MS Swaminathan.

Below is  the verbatim transcript of the interview:

Q: Your views on the farmers’ march?

A: Farmers march was a real signal of the frustration of farmers. Farming is becoming more and more economically unviable; the economic health of farming is getting poor. Like a good doctor the government has taken one decision of writing off the loan but that doesn’t solve the problem. There are fundamental problems of farming in terms of pricing, in terms of procurement, in terms of public distribution. This is why in the farmers’ commission we recommended a pricing pattern which is somewhat remunerative to the farmer. The report was a bit over ten years ago and many other aspects of the farmers’ report, nothing has been acted upon. So agriculture has suffered from lack of policy attention and economic distress of farmers is getting acute. The younger generation do not want to go to agriculture. It is left to the older people. How much can they do and so I am glad that the government of Maharashtra has agreed to solve the problem in a very small temporary way. Now they should start looking at longer term.

Q: The main issue really is an extension of a complete farm loan waiver which the protesters haven’t quite lived up to. Only a part of it, Rs 13,000 crore if I am not mistaken, was actually written off. Do you feel there is justifiability in these demand and do you feel there is viability in the government’s proposal or intend to ride these loans off?

A: The demand is genuine. The demand is a result of extreme distress of farmer. The government has taken a decision but that maybe a short-term one. What I want to say while short-term decision of loan waiver enables farmers to restart farming, kharif season is coming, they require money for seed and they require money for fertilisers and so on. Therefore, they can do agriculture of kharif season after the loan waiver because loan waiver will entitle them to renew loan.

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