Dr S S Chhina

Cooperatives the best option to enhance Farm Income - Dr. S.S.Chhina

Indian Agriculture is burdened with 60 percent of population but contributing only 14 percent in the Gross Domestic product of the country, vindicated the contention that population engaged in Agriculture is facing the problem of underemployment resulting into low Income in this occupation and big gap between farm and non-farm Income. The vow of Prime Minister Mr. Narinder Modi to double the farm Income within 5 years is a laudable and it should be bolstered, but it is more important to watch the efficacy of the gladiators employed to accomplish this big target. Land is the most crucial factor for agricultural production for which the supply is inelastic and invariable. Ostensibly the yield of crops can be enhanced to some extent as the law of Diminihing Marginal Returns is more applicable in agriculture, where the yield has already reached at its saturation point. There remain, the other options to escalate the Income of farming households.

        While analysing the overall agriculture situation the model of dairy cooperatives already a tested model looks much prudent. In this model a milk seller in the village, after receiving the value of his milk still remains a shareholder in profit, earned by Cooperative Federation at the District, State and National level. Even he is the shareholder in profits earned by export of dairy products that may never be possible by a single farmer. Apart from earning of profits, the model is a big succour to protect the farmer from the monopolistic tendencies of the private companies and dealers of dairy products in the area. The implementation and encouragement to this model was provided by the prescriptives of the Government. But why such a patronage to this most appropriate model is not provided to other agricultural products is inscrutable and inexplicable.

            The often quoted quotation of poverty amidst plenty is given in reference to agricultural business, that when there is more of production, there would be glut in the market and prices would fell down and instead the farmer may become rich, his economic position remains invariable. On the other side when there is hike in the price there is small quantity to sell because of less of production. The volatility of prices of vegetables and fruits is so frequent. At the same time there is a big difference in the harvest and the retail price, particularly in daily use products of vegetables and fruits. Some times the retail prices becomes double and even more then the harvest prices. But what is the share of the farmer in those enhanced prices. Nothing, the farmer’s share can be easily created through the cooperative model replicable to the dairy cooperatives.

            Basmati is a variety of rice that is grown on the river banks. India and Pakistan holds monopoly of this product. India is exporting Basmati worth thousands of crores of rupees in which the contribution of Punjab is about 80 percent. Suppose the farmer is selling Basmati at Rs.2000/- per qtl. the exporter is selling it at Rs.8000/- per qtl. Albeit the basmati needs the storage, shelling, loading and transportation etc, but what is the share of the farmer in that huge profit earned by the traders. It is difficult for a farmer to perform all these services, irrespective of the size of the holding but the Cooperative Society of the farmers or the Basmati producer’s company can easily perform all such activities to create the share of the farmer in those profits. Small farmers Agricultural Business consortium, the Central Government Agency is encouraging to form the Farm Producer’s Companies, but it had been observed that no significant progress could be made on this front but if the cooperative societies for such functions may be encouraged and helped with guidance, the number of farmers can join it as it has appeared in the dairy cooperatives. Success of the processing unit depends on the concatenation of different factors. The business and professional acumen is required that can easily be provided in this model.

        There is a big potential of value addition in the Agro products through Agro-Processing Units. The products of vegetables, fruits, pulses and oil seeds etc have big scope for their processing, but it can’t be put on a farmer, but the cooperative unit on the basis of the product can be formed to create the share of the farmers. Similarly number of products needs long term preservation, that needs the modern stores, equipped with required techniques and instruments, that is out of the reach of the farmer, but cooperatives of the farmers, in their villages could be the best option.

            83 percent of the farm holdings are below the 5 acres in the Punjab, they are mainly interested in assured marketing of their products. The research for availing of higher yield of different crops had given very good results those can replace the area under wheat and paddy. The yield of maize that was just 798 kg per hectare in 1960-61 has escalated to 3892 kgs in 2016-17, similarly cotton as 756 kgs from 260 kgs, grond nut to 1920 kgs from 926 kgs Mustered as 1412 kgs from 505 kgs and sugarcane as 813 qts from 340 qts per hectare in the same period. Same better results were obtained in other crops. But the area under these crops has depleted instead of increasing. The area under maize depleted to 1.16 lakh hectares from 3.27 lakh hectares, Cotton  to 2.85 lakh hectares from 4.47 lakh hectares. Sugarcane to 88000 hectares from 1.33 lakh hectares and ground nut to only 12000 hectares from 67000 hectares, Mustard to 31000 hectares from 1.09 lakh hectares from 1960-61 to 2016-17.  Now the Government of India has announced an new policy of procurement of other products with the collaboration of State Governments. Good results are expected on the front of diversification of crops. Lack of adequate raw material had been a major impediment in the installation of Agro Processing Units for value addition. Here again this model is the best option so to protect the farmers from their exploitation from traders in the value addition business for those crops.

            But it is equally important to shift the population from farm to non farm sector, where the cooperative model could be much helpful to generation employment. It is often quoted that cooperatives have failed in India but it must succeed. The cooperative model can dovetail agricultural marketing with processing and it can be helpful to enhance the income of the farm sector.
The Writer is a Senior Fellow of
Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi

Probable Solution of Burning of Paddy Straw  - Dr. S.S. Chhina

Paddy straw burning has become a permanent Phenomena in Northern states of Punjab, Haryana and  U.P. Last year it emerged as a big havoc as the smoke of this burning, engulfed all these states and particularly the capital area of Delhi where it spread profusely making the abominable atmosphere in this area. Ostensibly the administration must have realized that the coercion to mitigate this plight would be ludicrous, that is why the Central Government allotted Rs.1151 crores to address this problem in Punjab. The policy of persuasion is adopted. The provision is made to purchase 14000 machines to mange the straw in the fields but till now only 500 machines could be procured, though the harvesting of paddy is expected to be started by the end of September and that would continue till the beginning of November.
    Actually the farmer is not burning straw diliberately to create any problem, he is concious to sow the subsequent crop of wheat where the gap between harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat is very small. He has to resort to straw burning to clear the field prior to preparing the seed bed for next crop. He can not wait long to let the straw be absorbed in the field in long run. Inspite of that fact that 40000 complaints of straw burning were registered last year but how far it is justified to waste time and money where there were no deliberate intentions to create any problem and as the fields are adjoining with each other, it becomes difficult to prove the fault of a particular farmer. More over burning of straw that has its attributes for value addition must have its sustainable and permanent solution.
    According to agricultural experts, it involves about Rs.1500/- to Rs.2000/- per acre to clear the field through other means including the cost of diesel apart from the time spent becomes unbearable for the farmer. There are about 74 percent of the holdings those are below 5 acres and no farmer can take the risk to forego the much remunerative crop of wheat that is a staple crop and major food item of Punjab. In 2016 the total area under paddy was about 2.8 million hectares that thrived to 3.0 million hectares in 2017 and it is very interesting that this year when the hike of Rs.250 per quintal in the minimum support price of paddy was announced, the transplantation of paddy was almost complete.
       As 60 percent of the irrigation water is obtained from underground, so the water level has depleted much throughout the state, cultivation of paddy is assigned as a major reason for that. Among 147 block of the state, the water level in 100 blocks has gone so low that it is emerging as a problem for installation of tubewell and for its operation. But is it possible to force the farmer that he may not grow paddy and adopt the other crops?  It is only the assured provision with higher M.S.P. accompanied by state procurement that may turn the other crops as equally beneficial, to change the proclivity of the farmer to grow the alternative crops. 
       Actually the farmer is more interested in assured marketing that is provided in case of  wheat and paddy only as the Government assured the procurement through its own agencies. Every year the farmer do not bother to wait for the accouncement of the minimum support price for wheat and paddy. In Punjab the cropping pattern has turned towards wheat and paddy only, where these two crops are covering about 70 percent area of the state.
   
        Number of times the Government, the Universities and experts are recommending the diversification, even the  announcement for much higher M.S.P. of other crops is made every year, only this year the hike in the price of Moong was announced as Rs.1400 per quintal,  but the situation would remain invariable as it happened earlier, lack of Government procurement of other crops is the only factor that could not attract the farmers to enhance their area under those crops. There would be no problem on the front of food stocks even if area under paddy may be reduced to its half but the reduction in area can’t be enforced on the farmers.

    Looking on the invariable cropping pattern and the emerging problem of straw burning, it needs o be addressed socially with the patronage of the Government. Looking on the attributes of paddy straw for its value addition in the form of cardboard, paper, cattle feed, Bio-fuel etc. it is most prudent to encourage the installation of small units to save this straw from its burning. It can’t be expected that the farmer would install his Industrial Unit irrespective of the size of the farm. Big but few Industrial units can’t be a workable idea as it involves lot of transportation cost, because the straw is spread in the entirety of the area. It is estimated that about 20 million tones of straw is produced every year that can be turned as useful products.

    The paradigm of dairy is the most appropriate alternative for it. The dairy cooperatives have contributed a lot in the Punjab Economy. It is only Punjab, where dairy is contributing about 9 percent in the state gross domestic product of Punjab in which the role of dairy cooperatives is laudable. As the small scale units are more suitable for such Industrial Units, those should be installed in all the blocks of the State where the farmers of the area should be made shareholders. Though the farmers would be getting small price of their straw, but with the value addition they would avail the bonus on the pattern of dairy on the basis of their share they had contributed in the cooperative venture. The straw that was a big problem that would turn as an useful product in different shapes but at the same time it would generate income and employment simultaneously in all the blocks. As the infrastructure in the form of electricity, roads, banks, workshops etc are available everywhere and there is no dearth of raw material so all such units under small scale of production would run successfully.

    The Writer is a Senior Fellow of
Institutes of Social Sciences, New Delhi

27 Sept. 2018

The Common bond of relationship among Persons of  Three Continents  -  S.S.Chhina   

I was a student of Government College Dharamsala for my B.Ed in 1966. The college was at a very beautiful place near Dhaula Dar Hills. The atmosphere was much academic. The College was organizing a variety of seminars of the Pedagogy subjects in which the educational experts, the students and the prominent personalities of the city had been participating. In one of the Seminars a "white" gentleman who happened to be a General Manager of the New Egerton Woolen Mills of Dhariwal to which I belongs.
Afterwards while taking the Tea I was interested to Conserve with him but was hesitant because of my achles-heel of fluent English. But any how I mustered the courage and went ahead and I just told him that I belongs to Dhariwal. I saw a glitter of Joy in his eyes as if the treasure of old pleasures had exploded for him. He was remembering the big Canal of Dhariwal dividing the city in two parts, the sprawling playgrounds adjoining the Mills & Schools and particularly the golf  ground that was in more than hundreds of acres where he had been playing for three decades of his life, The old trees, particularly the pristine breeze blowing in the Morning and the Sunshine of Winter. The sparking glow on his face was inexplicable.  He was enquiring almost certain persons of Dhariwal about whom I was not aware. We had a long chat and ultimately he delivered his visiting card bearing his Name and Address as "Mr. Hallet Artist" and took the promise that I may Visit his residence on the coming Sunday.
But I could not went because of my pre settled academic assignment. But only the next day he came to my hostel and the next Sunday I went to his edifice between Dharamsala and Mecloadgunj. On that day, He had invited another family and he introduced me to them. He was Mr. Butler Worth from Newzealand but he has also retired from Dhariwal Mills as head of the Worsted department, but now settled permanently at Dharamsala. Where he was rearing hares and was exporting their wool to the other countries.
Then I met both of them incessantly and observed a stark variation in both the personalities. Mr. Hallet was bachelor, He was a lover of Art particularly a Known Painter, the music was always playing in his house. He was not fond of liquor and could not be allured to any business preposition. It was inscrutable that why he was living alone at this place. Mr. Butler Worth was always interested in business, no interest in Art & Music, fond of liquor as I Observed that on taking lunch at his residence, only myself and Mr. Hallet had not taken beer while all the family members were enjoying beer. Similarly I was a student, much younger in age, no Business interest. We were from different continents, I was from Asia, Mr. Hallet from Europe whereas Mr. Butler Worth was from Australian continent. Then what was common bond of our relationship that we discovered was our city of Dhariwal to which we all the three had our attachments.
The Writer is a senior fellow of
Institute of Social Sciences,
New Delhi