Bitter to Better Harvest

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Authored By : Roul Chhabilendra

Publisher: Northern Book Centre

Book Price: 750.00

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Bitter to Better Harvest

Summary of the Book

Self-sufficiency in production of food grains and acceleration in agricultural growth rates since mid-sixties, has not yet freed country’s agriculture from problems. In fact, India’s ubiquitous agricultural system is a conglomeration of paradoxes. After the adoption of economic reforms in early 1990s, it is often contended that the deficiencies, that are generic, multi-dimensional, and structural to a large extent, have intensified, and movement towards non-sustainable agriculture has begun in India. The principal failing has been inconsistency in policy, and continuing inability to grapple with a situation of finding required political and institutional will. The ongoing debate, on the fate of Indian agriculture, is still inconclusive and reminiscent of polemics of old economy.

The unique feature of this book is that it focuses on the first-hand experience of farmers, policy-makers, and the State, who are confronted with unwanted situation in the northern part of the country, till date regarded as food bowl of the country. Though presented as a case study of Punjab, yet the perspective adopted in the study is highly relevant for agricultural situation in Haryana and parts of Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh. Scripted in remarkably simple, yet elegant style, the book contains an incisive analysis of issues that confound the contemporary agriculture in Punjab, and pleads for enlargement of horizons of thinking. Attempts have been made here to focus agriculture in the post-green revolution period. The book presents an integrated and holistic view of the state of affairs in agriculture. The concerns arising out of the impact of liberalisation in general, and WTO in particular, are adequately and exclusively treated in this book besides analysis on agri-exports, role of the pressure groups, and strategies recommended. Shortsightedness, lack of diversity in approaching the problem, absence of introspection, deceleration in productivity as well as production, rigid policy frameworks etc., have been eloquently identified to be the some of the grey areas in India’s agriculture. Analysis of subsystems, marketing functions, agricultural costs, profit margins, subsidized inputs, support prices, public investment in agriculture, government efforts, etc., are brought to the fore from the prospective of better management and optimal use of resources. Agriculture is contextualised by positioning it within the overall economic development in India and linking with the level of social development in the State. The role of the State, in the changed agri-scenario, is not expected to shrink. Rather, the author sees, through the foundation of infrastructure, undertaking of regular research feedback, development of database and its management pertinent to agriculture, creation of level playing fields, management of externalities and public goods, provision of internal liberalisation, active deregulation, larger, yet non-traditional functions by the State in promoting the sluggish Indian agriculture. The strength of the volume is that it does not loses sight of the theoretical basis in its empirical format supported by latest data from variety of sources.

A vast, sensitive, and multi-dimensional situation, as agriculture, has been rigorously examined, evaluated, and put in the frontline. The piece ends in an optimistic tone, but cautions that unless unprecedented correctives are put in place, and the roadblocks removed, the inadequacies in agriculture will continue to stifle India’s economic growth. The information presented will surely contribute to initiation of a dialogue regarding the manner in which the prosperity of agriculture and empowerment of the farmers can be promoted.

The book offers a stimulating reading for those who are interested in the dynamics of Indian agriculture. The volume can also serve as an excellent textbook for post-graduate students in economics, development studies, regional development, agriculture, as well as agro-marketing. Those researching Indian agriculture can find the book extremely relevant. Similarly, the policy makers, planners, and administrators, particularly in the government, will also appreciate its usefulness in policy and programme inputs.

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