Friday, February 16, 2024

Recommendations of Prof. Swaminathan headed National Commission on Farmers, deliberations of Kisan Majdoor Commission

The National Commission on Farmers ((NCF))was set up in February 2004 to examine and recommend policies, programmes and measures on various issues confronting Indian Farmers and to suggest appropriate interventions for improving the economic viability, profitability, productivity and sustainability of major farming systems in the country. The Commission was reconstituted in November, 2004 under the Chairmanship of Prof. M.S.Swaminathan with revised terms of reference.

The Commission was to submit a medium term policy for food and nutrition security in the country in order to move towards the goal of universal food security over time within the next three months and to submit its recommendations on other Terms of Reference as soon as practicable and in any case on or before 13th October, 2006. The Commission, however is permitted to submit interim reports on any of the Terms of Reference it deemed fit or expected of it. Prof. Swaminatha headed NCF submitted five volumes of reports. The final report has two parts.

The 245 page first report has 11 chapters. Chapter 1 lists 5 reasons for agrarian crisis: inadequate land reform policies and their poor implementation; quantity and quality of water; technology fatigue; lack of accessible, adequate and timely institutional credit and scarcity of assured markets.

Chapter 2 recommends actions to enable farmers to tide over distress owing to severe agricultural losses, illnesses, accidents and other expenditures. It suggests strengthening and stabilising “farm, off-farm and non-farm sectors” and community-based grain banks.

Chapter 3 recommends 50,000 farm schools and conservation of rainwater, enhancing water-retention capacity and micro-nutrients in soils, and  cultivating crops which can survive water shortages. It notes that areas with low uncertain rainfall are susceptible to farm distress.

Chapter 4 recommends a new deal for women in agriculture by broadening the definition of women who are engaged in agriculture to include farmers, sharecroppers and farm labourers.

Chapter 5 focuses on ‘strengthening the Horticulture Revolution. Horticulture can be an effective strategy for uplifting the rural economy. There is a glaring disparity in the horticultural development across regions.

Chapter 6 notes that country’s cotton production is suffering from low yields, poor fibre quality, pest infestation and poor-quality seeds and soil. To ensure profitable prices, it recommends raising the import duty on cotton from the prevailing 10 per cent to 30 per cent.

Chapter 7 points out India’s weak quality-checks in the realm of crops, livestock, fisheries and herbal products. UN’s Codex Alimentarius, which are international standards laid out to ensure the safety, quality and fairness of food trade, have become increasingly stringent.

Chapter 8 recommends 20,000 Rural Knowledge Centres which would employ Information Communication Technology tools to educate participants on agriculture and allied activities. These centres. Cost of one such centre which could operate from the panchayat buildings, local schools or study centres is Rs 1.20 lakh.

Chapter 9 grapples with India’s food and nutrition security structure and solutions to rectify its deficiencies including access to safe drinking water. It recommends setting up a National Committee for a Hunger Free Indian chaired by representatives from the central government.

Chapter 10 recommends setting up of a Livestock Food Corporation which would assist self-help groups in producing fodder and feed for livestock. It suggests actions to improve the dairy and poultry sectors in the country.

In the context of Tsunami, Chapter 11 of the first report suggested measures to combat disastrous impact of the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean. It stressed need for rehabilitating livelihoods.

The second report is 523-page long. It has five chapters. Chapter 1 is titled ‘From Crisis to Confidence’. It deals with steps needed to prevent farmers’ suicides. It recommends a Farmers’ Livelihood Security Compact. Chapter 2 is titled ‘Food for all’. It recommends a six-point action plan for a hunger-free India. Chapter 3 is titled ‘Fish for all’. Chapter 4 is titled ‘Enhancing Productivity, Profitability, Stability and Sustainability’deals with Hill Agro Ecosystem, Arid Agro-Ecosystem, Coastal Zone Agriculture, Mission for the Prosperity of Sugarcane Farmers, Conservation, Cultivation and Marketing of Medicinal Plants, Organic Farming and Biofuels. Chapter 5 is titled ‘Agricultural Market Reforms’. It deaals with the requirement for a marketing system and the role of the Ministry of Agriculture in initiating changes in trade regulation and promotion. It recommends revision of relevant laws concerning agricultural processing and marketing, Minimum Support Price and the Essential Commodity Act.

The third report is 311-page long. It has four chapters. Chapter 1 is titled ‘2006-07: Year of Agricultural Renewal’. Chapter 2 is titled ‘Strengthening Agricultural Research: Towards Science Led Evergreen Revolution’. Chapter 3 is titled ‘Towards an Indian Single Market’ and Chapter 4 is titled ‘Technology Missions: Way Forward’.

The fourth report is 443-page long. It has four chapters. Chapter 1 is titled, ‘Ending the Era of Farmers’. Chapter 2 is titled, ‘Jai Kisan: Draft National Policy for Farmers’. Chapter 3 is titled ‘Guiding Principles underlying the Draft National Policy for Farmers’. Chapter 4 is entitled ‘Towards Agricultural Biosecurity.

The fifth and final report has two volumes of 286 pages and 190 pages respectively. The first volume has seven chapters. Chapter 1 is titled 'Putting Farmers First'. Chapter 2 is titled 'Making Hunger History'. Chapter 3 is titled 'Economic Access to Food– Improving Livelihood Opportunities and Income'. Chapter 4 is titled 'Attracting and Retaining Youth: Uncommon Opportunities'. Chapter 5 is 'Improving the Competitiveness of Indian Agriculture'. Chapter 6 is 'Strengthening the Coping Capacity of Farmers under an Uncertain Trade Environment'. Chapter 7 is titled 'Shaping the Economic Destiny of Farmers'.

The second volume provides a summary of State Level Consultations for Feedback on Draft National Policy for Farmers held in 1. Andhra Pradesh 2. Assam and other North Eastern States 3. Bihar 4. Chattisgarh 5. Gujarat 6. Haryana 7. Himachal Pradesh 8. Jammu & Kashmir 9. Jharkhand 10. Karnataka 11. Kerala and Lakshadweep Islands 12. Madhya Pradesh 13. Maharashtra and Goa 14. Orissa 15. Punjab 16. Rajasthan 17. Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands 18. Uttaranchal 19. Uttar Pradesh and 20. West Bengal.    

The key recommendations of the NCF contained in its Reports and incorporated in the Revised Draft National Policy for Farmers are as below:

A. Asset Reforms

1. Land: (i) Complete the unfinished agenda on land reforms, distribute land to landless; (ii) Review the formula to calculate payment of compensation under the Land Acquisition Act; (iii) Prime farm land must be conserved for agriculture and should not be diverted for non-agricultural purposes.

2. Water: (i) Repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies; (ii) Taking up water harvesting and aquifer recharge; (iii) Self- sufficiency in irrigation water availability and promotion of Water User Associations (iv) Water-crop and variety-nutrients- implements strategy for water use efficiency and (v) To formulate drought code, flood code and good weather code.

3. Livestock: (i) Set up National Live Stock Development Council for holistic management of the livestock sector so as to improve its yield; (ii) To establish Livestock Feed and Fodder Corporation at State level to promote quality feed and fodder for livestock; (iii) Make poultry an agricultural activity; iv) Establish genetic evaluation systems for indigenous breeds as well as crosses to increase livestock productivity.

4. Fisheries: i) Guiding principles of National Fisheries Development Board for holistic management and development of fisheries and aquaculture should be ecology, economic gender equity and employment generation. ii) Introduce Integrated Coastal Zone Management and scientific fish rearing, harvesting and processing. iii) Aquarian Reforms by providing landless families access to village ponds and other water bodies in the public domain for aquaculture and for harmonizing the needs of artisanal and mechanized fishing in coastal areas.

5. Bio-Resources: (i) Conservation of abundant wealth of flora and fauna including soil micro flora and micro fauna; (ii) Documentation of traditional knowledge; and (iii) Use the Gene and Bio diversity Fund for recognition and rewarding the contribution of tribal men and women to genetic resource conservation and enhancement and for saving traditional crops and wisdom; and iv) The Plant Variety Protection and Farmers’ Rights Act (PVPFR) and Biodiversity Act, must have detailed guidelines that ensure the rights of farmers in their triple roles of conservers, cultivators and breeders.

B. Support Services:

(a) Science and Technology: (i) Set up a National Bio-Technology Regulatory Authority; (ii) Utilize information and communication technology through Common Service Centres and Gyan Chaupals; (iii) Utilize frontier technologies to improve productivity in perpetuity without ecological harm (ever green revolution), (iv) Research strategy should be pro-nature and pro-small farmer.

(b) Input and Services: (i) Promotion and production of good quality and disease free planting material including seed and promoting farmer-seed company partnership, (ii) integrated pest management, (iii) proper advice on reclamation of waste land and issue of soil health passbook to farm families for monitoring soil health and pricing policies to promote a balanced and efficient use of fertilizers; (iv) A Gram Panchayat Mahila Fund be established to enable SHGs and Women’s Groups to undertake community activities that help to meet gender specific needs.

(c) Credit and Insurance: (i) Formulate comprehensive agriculture credit policy; (ii) Enhance the outreach of the credit flow and make it hassle free; (iii) Revitalize cooperative credit structure; (iv) Livestock insurance be revamped; (v) Expand the scope of insurance which should be farmer- friendly covering production, post-harvest operations and market risks for all crops through the country. (vi) Review the role of NABARD to make it serve as National Bank for Farmers;

(d) Extension, training and knowledge connectivity: (i) Set up Farm Schools in the fields of innovative farmers to promote Farmer-to-Farmer learning; (ii) Restructure Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) should have post-harvest technology wings; (iii) Set up Village Knowledge Centres (VKC) at village level and Village Resource Centres (VRC) at block level; and (iv) Synergise Internet, FM radio, cell phone facilities for development of farming; and (v) All research, development and extension programmes in agriculture, and all services must be engendered. 

(e) Assured and remunerative marketing: (i) The State Governments may undertake market reforms speedily to provide more options to the farmers for selling their produce, allowing private sector to develop markets and remove bottlenecks (ii) Calculate Minimum Support Price (MSP) on the basis of weighted cost plus a margin of at least 50%; (iii) Fix procurement price on the basis of minimum support price plus cost escalation for procurement for PDS; and extend market support price through out the country and for all crops; (iv) Effectively use Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) to protect the farmers’ interest; (v) Put in place a Universal Public Distribution System to ensure food and nutrition security; (vi) Set up Price Stabilization Fund to mitigate the market risks of farmers on account of wide price fluctuations; (vii) The Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices(CACP) should be made an autonomous statutory body and its membership should include a few practising farm women and men, (viii) An Indian Trade Organisation should be established to operate a Livelihood Security Box for the farmers.

(f) Social Security: (i) Pay at least Rs.1500 per month to the families of fishermen in off-seasons; and (ii) The recommendations made by A. Sen Gupta Commission for enterprises in unorganized sector may be suitably adapted to the needs of the farmers.

(g) Curriculum Reforms: The curriculum in agricultural and animal sciences universities should be reformed and oriented to achieve the goal, “Every Scholar an Entrepreneur” with emphasis to enable the farm graduates to be an entrepreneur.

(h) Agricultural Biosecurity: Put in place National Agricultural Biosecurity system consisting of three mutual reinforcing components with National Agricultural Biosecurity Council.

C. Other Initiatives:

(a) Special Category of Farming: promote (i) Organic farming; (ii) Green agriculture; and (iii) Protected Agriculture (Green House, Fertigation) etc. (iv) Assessing risks and benefits of Genetically Modified Crops (GMO) resistant to different stresses like drought, salinity etc. (v) A codes of conduct for contract farming be developed for major farm commodities.

(b) A National Land Use Advisory Service should be immediately established and linked to State and Block level land use advisory services on hub and spoke model to provide proactive advice to farmer on land use taking into consideration the factors like climate and market.

(c) An Agriculture Risk Fund should be set up to insulate farmers from risks arising from recurring droughts and other weather aberrations.

(d) Improving efficiency of small and marginal farmers through (i) cooperative farming; (ii) contract farming; (iii) promoting small holders’ estates and (iv) proper utilization of State Farms.

(e) Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs): (i) Empower PRIs to implement the provisions of article 243 (G) of the Constitution in letter and spirit; (ii) Mobilize over 1 lakh elected women members of PRIs for improving quality of life in villages; and (iii) Train one woman and one man in each Panchayat to serve as Farm Science Managers.

(f) Food Security: (i) Formulate Food Guarantee Act by combining principal features of National Food for Work Programme and National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme; (ii) Set up a National Food Security and Sovereignty Board under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister.

(g) Set Up State Farmers’ Commission to suitably adapt and modify the National Policy to suit local realities to prepare operational plan for implementing the Policy.

(h) Launch Rural Non-Farm Livelihood Initiative with restructured KVIC and SFAC on the lines of Town and Village Enterprises (TVEs) Programme of China to create employment opportunities for farm families.

(i) The Ministry and Departments of Agriculture both in the Centre and States may be restructured to become Ministry/Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.

(j) Agriculture should be in the Concurrent List of the Constitution to enable more coherence between macro policies of trade, finance and investment, which are currently under the Union – and developmental policies managed by the States.

Working Group of Kisan Majdoor Commission (KMC)

 A Round Table Meeting on Agriculture, Agriculturists and Agricultural Worker in Patna, Bihar by Kisan Majdoor Commission (KMC) was convened on December 4, 2023 at Jagjivan Ram Institute of Parliamentary Studies & Political Research, Patna. This Round Table Meeting for the assessment of the state of agriculture, agriculturists and agricultural workers in Bihar by Kisan Majdoor Commission (KMC) explored possible remedial measures to respond to issues facing farming, farmers and farm workers. The participants in the Round Table Meeting included:

1. Dr. Sanjeev Kumar (Agronomy), Head & Principal Scientist, Division of Crop Research, ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region (ICAR-RCER), Patna

2. Prof. Nawal Kishore Chaudhary, economist, ex-Pricipal, Patna College, Patna University   

3. Dr. Sunilam, KSS-NAPM, Member, KMC and Member, Core Committee, Samyukt Kisan Morcha

4. Brishin Patel, ex-minister, Government of Bihar

5. Prof. Dinesh Abrol, ex-chief scientist, CSIR (Drafting Committee, KMC)

6. Thomas Franco, People First, ex-General Secreatry, All India Bank Officers Association (Drafting Committee, KMC)

7. Dr. Narendra Pathak, Jagjivan Ram Institute of Parliamentary Studies & Political Research, Department of Education, Government of Bihar, Patna

8. Dr. Vidyarthi Vikas, Assistant Professor, A. N. Sinha Institue of Social Studies, Patna    

9. Umesh Singh, State Secretary, All India Kisan Maha Sabha, Bihar    

10. Ashok Prasad Singh, Bihar Rajya Kisan Sabha

11. Manikant Pathak, All India Kisan Khet Majdoor Sangathan (AIKKMS), Bihar  

12. Kumar Chandan, President Bihar Kisan Cell, Rashtriya Janta Dal  

13. Amrika Mahto, All India Agragami Kisan Sabha, Bihar  

14. Gopal Sharma, Bihar Rajya Kisan Sabha (BRKS), Amhara, Bihita, Patna

15. Rishi Anand, Jai Kisan Andolan, Patna    

16. Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, Araria, Bihar

17. Jyotishwar Kumar Singh, Kisan Sabha, Vasudhar, Buxer, Bihar

18. Baleshwar Jha, Bihar Kisan Samiti, Patna  

19. Ravindra Nath Roy, AIKS, Kedar Bhavan, Patna  

20. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Alam, Delhi/Bhagalpur

21. Shadanand Yadav, BGVS, Supaul, Bihar

22. Sanjeev Kumar, Systematic Agro-based Research Institute, Bind, Nalanda, Bihar   

23. Manilal, Sipara, Patna  

24. Arun Sinha, Bihar Krishi Pariwar, Patna    

25. S. Hussain Wahid, Aligarh, UP.

26. Murali Dhar, BGVS, Patna

27. Rohit Kumar Singh, Transport Nagar, Patna

28. Pranay George, IGSSS, Patna

29. Sunita Kumari Sinha and A.V. Sada, BGVS, Patna

30. Mithilesk Kumar Sharma, Faridpur, Sarta, Jehanabad, Bihar  

31. Udayan, Patna

32. Ramashish Rai

33. Dr. Meera Dutt, Editor, Talash, Patna  

34. Dr. Gopal Krishna, Advocate, Member, Drafting Committee, KMC

This Round Table Meeting was a follow up of earlier programs  on the subject of demand for a 21 day-special session of the legislature by agriculturalists and  agricultural workers co-organised by Nation for Farmers (NFF) on November 23, 2018 at Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Patna and Dialogue on Farm Market Laws on January 16, 2021 at Scada Business Centre, Patna and in pursuance of the work of the Kisan Mazdoor Commission (KMC) decided at its first meeting (June 14-15, 2023) in New Delhi.


The formation of a permanent KMC was announced on November 25, 2021 by the NFF and other collaborating platforms and organizations to assess and report on the state of agriculture 16 years after the Swaminathan Commission-the National Commission for Farmers- submitted the first of its five reports to the union government. The Round Table in Patna is part of KMC’s nation-wide process of public inquiry to ascertain the extent of agrarian distress. KMC wishes to create a robust vision and strategy of agrarian transformation with the active participation of farmers’ organizations with the aim to integrate the agenda of politics of food diversity, ecological sustainability, equity and justice. The Round Table made an effort to create a permanent Bihar specific independent agriculturalists and agricultural workers commission. After day-long deliberation, it formed a Bihar Working Group of KMC, a permanent working group.

The Working Group of KMC was will help review and update the recommendations of NCF and to pursue the research on agrarian crisis and deprivation of farmers and  workers. 

No comments: