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. In this context, it is important to look at the role and extent of impact on the livelihoods of small farmers from recent agricultural product marketing laws (APMC bypass) and the empowerment of farmers or contract farming laws. Many studies have shown that small farms are producing at the same level of output or higher per unit area as medium to larger farms, thus rebutting the arguments that small farms cannot be the future of Indian agriculture. Despite the competition over land and resources between large-scale and small-scale agriculture sectors, there is generally limited overlap, both in terms of focus of crops and in terms of competition on agricultural markets. Smallholder farmers account for 51% of the farm production, 46% of operating land, and much larger shares (70%), of higher-value crops, such as vegetables and milk.
Unfortunately, current agriculture policies do not recognize how crop selection, input costs, and the supply chain are all intertwined, which perpetuates marginal agriculture. Given limits on agriculture as a viable career path for hundreds of millions, including for effective, sustainable farming, governments must provide the other sectors with the same political attention that it has given farmers. The Indian government has offered farmers just one set of laws that will turn industrial farmings death spiral into private-sector profits. Moreover, since 2000, multiple governments, following Japan and Korea, have instituted agricultural conservation policies that maintain incomes of farmers, keeping costs of food production under control.
This has gained importance in the context of the wave of recent reforms, which have included allowing for privately owned wholesale markets, contract farming, direct purchases from farmers, and the leasing of land by states, both in early state-level acts and now under central acts. VAPG is a leading advocate for enabling farmers entrepreneurship, helping farmers and ranchers to develop new agricultural and food-related businesses that enhance farm income, create jobs that cannot be outsourced, empower local communities, and enhance economic opportunities for rural communities. This funding is critical for Farm to School programs to continue connecting children with healthy, local foods, unlocking new markets for family farmers, and providing innovative farm education at schools nationwide. The Watershed program, in conjunction with initiatives in agriculture research and extension, is perhaps the best-positioned agriculture program for the promotion of new varieties of crops and better farming practices.
During its 30 year history, NSAC, National Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, has played a central role in pushing for federal policies and programs that support conservation, foster family farmers, create new markets and businesses, and promote sustainability and organic research. Farm consolidation, mechanization, and increased labor productivity in agriculture will have a growing role on Chinas and Latin Americas policy agendas, given the paramount importance of ensuring food production remains competitive internationally.
The Indian governments shift of 146 million farms into free markets would inevitably result in an even more concentrated, monopolized, environmentally devastating, and, eventually, US-style farming model. Indias post-independence governments were keenly aware of the way both the domestic and international farm markets worked. Before its farm reforms–farmers, mostly in Punjab and Haryana, sold their crops through licensed middlemen.