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Ignore farmers, sow Naxalism

The sense of despair among farmers is the kind of fertile ground Naxal ideology grows on, says Satyen Mohapatra.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2006 15:58 IST

If Naxalism is a concern, here's an emergency: the movement could spread if steps are not taken to check the worsening condition of farmers, warned MS Swaminathan, the architect of the green revolution.

The sense of despair and anger among farmers is just the kind of fertile ground that Naxal ideology grows on.

Majority of young recruits in the movement were "jobless and joyless" farmers, he said.

Talking to HT after presenting the fourth report of the National Commission of Farmers to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Swaminathan said that over the years, it has been downhill for farmers.

In his report, he has mooted a suicide census of farmers and a Code of Con- duct for Contract Farming.

The Commission's report, 'Jai Kisan — A Draft National Policy For Farmers', says agriculture needs an all-round boost by providing farmers the necessary credit and marketing back-up. Only this, he said, can save them from starvation and suicide.

Warning that there was "no time to relax", the report says if agriculture was neglected the country could revert back to the times of "ship to mouth" existence, depending on imports to meet food requirements.

"If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right. If, conversely, agriculture goes right, the vision of a hunger and poverty-free India can become a reality, sooner than the time-frame set under the UN Millennium Development Goals."

The Commission chairman said he had written to all vice chancellors of agriculture universities and home science colleges, requesting them to send "Hope Generation Teams" of scientists, scholars and students to the country's "suicide hot spots" and encourage them to live with the farmers for 10-15 days.

The scientist said one of the solutions to the present crisis was the creation of more jobs in the non-farm sector, with a massive Rural Non-Farm Livelihood Initiative on the pattern of the Township and Village Enterprises of China.

"We should be able to take off about 200 million people from farm to non-farm sectors by 2010 by integrating initiatives like Small Farmers' Agribusiness Consortium, Agri-Clinics and Agribusiness centres, Food Parks, into a Rural Non-Farm Livelihood Initiative to provide employment in rural areas," he said.