Rural Development, Agro-businesses and Livelihood Security
By Globus Press
1968 marked the beginning of the green revolution leading to quantum jumps in the productivity and production of wheat and rice. The last 10 years have witnessed a fatigue in the green revolution with the growth rate in foodgrain production falling below population growth. Thus, human numbers are increasing faster than our capacity to make the goal of food for all a reality. At the same time, consumption is not going up due to inadequate purchasing power at the household level. A famine of jobs/ livelihoods as a result of poor growth of opportunities for employment in the rural non-farm and off-farm sectors is leading to a famine of food at the household level. According to the Union Planning Commission, we are off-track in achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal of reducing the number of hungry persons by half by 2015. Also, we are off-track in reducing infant and maternal mortality rates and in achieving universal primary education. Farmers need appropriate institutional support to enhance their agricultural competitiveness. Institutional support to confer on small farm families the power and economy of scale is vital to enhance the productivity and profitability of small farms. Multiple livelihood opportunities are essential for ensuring the income security of resource-poor farming families, particularly in rainfed semi-arid, arid and hill regions. Mixed farming and improved post-harvest technology leading to value addition to primary products can help to achieve this goal. Although agriculture is a State subject, a number of major policy decisions impacting the sector are taken by the Central Government. This includes the budgetary allocations under the Five Year Plan and several Central Government programmes and policies including laying down of Minimum Support Price for selected agriculture products and input subsidies. However, State Governments retain the right to impose fiscal levies on agriculture products, which constitute a considerable source of income for them. They also have the power to fix the prices of certain major inputs like electricity and water, which are provided through public utilities. States also have considerable flexibility in providing support services to agriculture like extension services, research and development, although there are several central government programmes in these areas which are available throughout the country. The interdisciplinary scope of the book makes it an ideal text for a wide range of disciplines of this subject.