The Chairman of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) MS Swaminathan favours mapping the country’s geological area to identify “low biological sectors” where mega projects including Special Economic Zones (SEZs) can be established.
The NCF’s fifth and final report, released on Thursday, recommends that prime farmland be conserved for agriculture and not be diverted for non-agricultural purposes. It also calls for a review of the existing Land Acquisition Act to provide for a ‘pro-farmer’ skew to the legislation.
Tackling farmer-related tasks as a “national endeavour”, with the joint partnership and responsibility of the central and state governments, is the crying need today, Swaminathan said at a press conference.
Favouring the idea of moving agriculture to the concurrent list of subjects, he said this would facilitate coherence between the macro policies of trade (managed by the Union) and the developmental policies managed by the states.
On farmers’ suicides, Swaminathan underscored the need to address larger issues concerning the agrarian crisis that have driven farmers to suicides. “Agriculture and industry needed to reinforce rather than fight one another,” he averred in the backdrop of the meeting of state agriculture ministers being convened later this month by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.
Pitching in with a strong case for the implementation of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for all crops, Swaminathan said that pricing and marketing were ‘critical areas’ for ushering in the second green revolution. Favouring a ‘universal PDS system’ instead of the targeted PDS regime as at present, he said the MSP should be 50 per cent more than the weighted average cost of production.
“The second green revolution belongs to dry land and rain-fed areas,” he said while elaborating that millets and pulses were predominantly crops of rain-fed and dry farming areas.