Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Is it not interesting that when the food production dips in the country, umpteen number of excuses are meted out by the officials of the Food and Agriculture Ministry in the country. But when there is a marginal increase in production none other than the Minister himself boasts of "his" achievements! One will naturally ask the question whether the food production increase, if it is really true, is due to the role of the Minister and his crony babus in his Ministry or it has happened in spite of them? In this "celebration" the fact is forgotten that India continues to be the top importer of edible oils in the world. Also ignored is the bitter truth that there country has never been able to increase the production of pulses to any meaningful extent during the last one decade! In a country predominantly vegetarian by economic compulsion, if pulses and milk products, due to their sky rocketing prices are denied to the poor and vulnerable population, one can imagine the cumulative consequences on the physical and intellectual status of the population as a whole. Listen to what our Cricket-crazy Agricultural Minister at Delhi has to say about his "achievements"!  

"You are all aware that foodgrain production has reached a record level of 241.6 million tonne in 2010-11. We have also achieved highest ever production of wheat, pulses, oil seeds and cotton. Overall farm output has also achieved an impressive growth rate of 7.5% during the last quarter of 2010-11 thus helping Agriculture GDP to register a growth of 6.6 % during the year. This also makes average growth rate in current plan to be 3.2% which we could achieve under some of the worst climatic conditions like drought, un-seasonal rains, flood, frost etc. in recent past. Monsoon 2011 has been very encouraging and our production outlook too. As per 1st Advance Estimates, Kharif 2011 production of Rice in the country is estimated at 87.10 million tonnes which will be an all time high. We are also expecting record productions in Cotton and Oilseeds this year. We hope to see a substantial expansion in crop area and to achieving record production in coming Rabi season too. We are confident that we will be able to surpass our own production record set last year. All these give me great optimism that strategies for rejuvenating agriculture sector have been working well and we will now be able to achieve targeted 4% growth. While the results are encouraging, we also have challenges ahead. Demand of food grain will grow rapidly in next few decades not only due to growing population but also due to rise in per capita income and various governmental interventions to ensure food and nutritional security to less advantaged people. We have to produce more for ensuring food and nutritional security of our nation. But, this will be achieved with more competitive demand on land and water, progressive fragmentation of land holdings, degrading natural resource base and emerging concerns of climate change'. 

Some time back there was a news item regarding using the technique of "shaming" food fraudsters by naming them publicly under the impression that such adverse publicity would act as a deterrent for future fraudsters. But the ground reality in India is that shame is not considered a negative factor in the lexicon of politicians as evidenced by the overflowing Tihar Jail in Delhi and the Central Jail in Bangalore! Therefore the "head you lose, tail I win" stand ( borrowed from the cricket lexicon), makes the non-performing government and its ministers an "indestructible' institution in India.


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