R&D on agricultural technology is being carried out by two National Level projects, implementing by India (National Technology Project on Agricultural Agriculture and National Initiative on Agriculture Innovation), coordinated by Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), the government of India. Enhancing Farmers Access to Agricultural Markets Through Policy Reforms and Investments through the Maharashtra Agriculture Competitiveness project, which seeks to reform the regulatory wholesale markets and give farmers alternative market opportunities.
In this context, the latest reforms are designed to attract fresh investments into Indian agriculture, particularly from private enterprise–both domestic and global. To attract these investments, it is assumed, the industry needs to de-regulate itself, both from an output and farm inputs markets, as well as service markets and land markets. Corporate agriculture has not worked everywhere in the world and it should not be encouraged in India; Contract farming and agency producers via local institutions and networks could assist Indian agriculture in better performance.
Despite the competition over land and resources between large-scale and small-scale agriculture sectors, the overlap is usually limited, both in terms of the emphasis on crops and the competition for market share of the farm. Unfortunately, current agriculture policies do not recognize the way that crop selection, input costs, and the supply chain are all intertwined, which perpetuates marginal agriculture. More than a simple supply-demand equilibrium, there are a number of distortions and disruptions in the agricultural sector, and it is not only intermediaries, but a supply chain that is woefully inadequate, lacking cold storage facilities and effective transportation.
Export-oriented agriculture (via fast-moving contract farming and e-commerce) is promoted to the detriment of smallholders, informal petty traders, food security, and ecology. The dangers of marginalisation in agriculture through fragmentation are still present, since even under the new regime, the small, poor-resource farms are not capable of meeting household food needs. In addition, more governments since 2000, following Japan and Korea, have established farm protection policies that maintain incomes for farms, keeping food production costs under control.
Farm consolidation, mechanization, and improved labor productivity in agriculture will have a greater role on Chinas and Latin Americas policy agendas, given the overriding concern to keep food production competitive internationally. Other priorities, such as livelihood programs and developing employment outside farms, could also become critical. The Watershed Program, in conjunction with initiatives in agriculture research and extension, is perhaps the best-suited agriculture program to advance new varieties of crops and better farming practices.
With programs covering everything from farmers crop insurance to access to healthy foods for low-income families, and from beginning farmers education to supporting sustainable agricultural practices, the Farm Bill sets the stage for our food and agriculture systems. The farm bill connects the food on our plates, the farmers and ranchers who grow it, and the natural resources — our soil, air, and water — that make growing food possible. As a leading champion of family farmers and sustainable agriculture, our job is to ensure the Farm Bill is good for farmers, consumers, and the natural environment. We face new challenges today, but with citizen and stakeholder activism to pass a fair farm bill, we can ensure that our agriculture, economies, and communities are vibrant and productive for generations to come.
Given limits on agriculture as a viable career path for hundreds of millions, including for productive, sustainable farming, government needs to put as much policy emphasis on other sectors as it has given farmers. In this context, it is critical to note how the new Farm Bill consolidates power within the Indian federal structure, diminishing space for responsibility and competition from below. This has come into focus in the context of the flurry of recent reforms, which have included allowing for the establishment of private wholesale markets, contract farming, direct purchases from farmers, and the lease of land in different states, either through earlier state-level acts or now through central ones. Taken together, the present law deregulated and reregulated Indias entire food and agriculture chain, from farm production, distribution to retail, to serve the interests of corporations.