Ashok Gulati The Crook Representing Agriculture ©
This is another interesting article of crooks representing foreign interests and holding Bogus Degrees mislead and misrepresent India and Indian farmers; this time it is Ashok Gulati.
Reading just his first few lines of this article that appeared in The Economic Times confirmed the first impression of him based on his PPT presentations. But unlike PPT where most of figures are and charts dont expose the caliber and experience of a presenter, such articles completely expose a persons real caliber and experiences.
v Food production In India is stagnant for 4-5 years and in many crops peak production was achieved almost a decade ago. And when there is stagnant food production but production of eggs and meats are rapidly shooting up it actually means even faster declining non egg and meat food intake- for every kg of chicken meat feed made of grains like corm is 2.5kg to 3kg.
v Average Indians dinner plate does not contain fruits, vegetable, milk, eggs, meat, fish and processed food. Actually food intake has declined sharply due to three main factors, high prices of food products, declining production of crops and increased production of meats using food grains as animal feed.
v Between 1970 and 2003, the poorest 30% of Indias rural population accounted for the countrys highest growth rate in milk and milk product consumption- is this not a joke?
v There is mention of exploitation of farmers by moneylenders. Growing fruits and vegetables is always profitable when we consider the retail market value of the crops but middlemen take away bulk of the margins leaving little for farmers.
v Low farm credits, poor quality of seeds, virtually non-existent storage and handling infrastructure. Chickens are slaughtered in retail shops and 90% of the fruits, vegetables and most high value foods are retailed unprocessed.
v Top one or two percent consume very large quantity of non-veg foods and health conscious among them large quantities of fruit and vegetable juices taking away these from the palates of the poor and middle class.
Snapshot of average Indian dinner plate is reduced quantities of grains, fruits and vegetables.
Ravinder Singh November30, 2006
High time for high-value agriculture
[WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2006 12:43:28 AM]
If you took a snapshot of the average Indians dinner plate today, you might be surprised with what you see...or better yet, with what you dont. Rice and wheat, long fixtures of the Indian diet, have been taking up less space on food plates across the country. Fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, meat, fish and processed foods the so-called high-value foods have taken their place at a growing rate.
This transformation, driven in part by rising incomes, urbanisation and trade over the past three decades, presents enormous opportunities for Indias smallholder farmers, who typically hold less than two hectares of land. However, these opportunities will be lost if India fails to find a new way forward for agriculture one in which the government facilitates its growth and the farmer drives it.
Thirty years ago, the average rural Indian consumed approximately 15 kg of cereals each month. Today, this figure has slipped below 13 kg. At the same time, Indian consumers even the very poorest have increasingly turned their attention to high-value foods. Between 1970 and 2003, the poorest 30% of Indias rural population accounted for the countrys highest growth rate in milk and milk product consumption.
Per capita consumption of vegetables during this period tripled in rural areas and nearly doubled in urban ones. Overall, consumption of high-value foods grew at almost 1% per year over the past three decades. By 2020, Indias monthly expenditure on milk, meat, eggs and fish is projected to double, and to more than double for fruits and vegetables.
Indias smallholder farmers, who account for over 80% of farm families and cultivate about 40% of the countrys total agricultural land, have responded to the growing demand for high-value foods. Between 2002 and 2003, they accounted for 44% of Indias total agricultural production, spurring the development of new marketing channels, such as food processing and retailing.
But while the plate and plough have moved quickly towards high-value foods, Indias policies and institutions in support of this agricultural transformation have not. Consequently, a promising new agricultural market for India has been stifled and smallholder farmers, the very drivers of this market, may miss out.
Unlike Indias traditional cereal-based agriculture, high-value agriculture operates in a different environment, one that requires new thinking in how to link farmers, processors and organised retailers together. Farmers face serious challenges when they try to move these products from the field to the market.
Given the perishable nature of fruits, vegetables and milk, special climate-controlled storage facilities are critical as are adherence to increasingly stringent health and quality standards. Meeting these costly requirements is simply out of the question for the typical Indian smallholder farmer, but through linkages with private sector food processors and large retailers, it is coming within reach.
During the past year, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) assessed high-value agriculture in India and its implications for smallholder farmers. In a series of case studies, IFPRI found these farmers are competitive in high-value agriculture, provided there are strong market linkages and an enabling environment for their participation.
Evidence shows that smallholder farmers incomes increase substantially when there are linkages to markets for their products. For example, Mahagrapes, the marketing arm of grape-producing cooperatives in Maharashtra, saw a 59% increase in their profits when they forged connections with food processing and retail firms.
For Indias Safal vegetable cooperative, farmers profits were nearly 80% higher when they linked to the organised market. It was also found that smallholder farmers engaged in high-value agriculture do not face systematic bias when attempting to link with food processing and retail firms.
It did become clear, however, that education and experience offer farmers a better chance of success, especially in shrimp and grapes export markets where compliance with foreign standards requires higher levels of awareness and knowledge. This strongly suggests that government investment in rural education will carry high returns.
IFPRIs findings also debunk the idea that smallholder farmers and food processing and retail firms cannot find common ground because of their vast size differences. Through long-term partnerships, both farmers and firms gain a more equitable way of doing business with each other.
Firms gain an incentive to invest resources in farmer training and capacity building, and farmers face fewer fluctuations in capital and input costs. Both groups are also able to exchange information regularly, which is critically important in high-value agriculture.
There is no doubt that Indian agriculture is rapidly transforming with potentially positive implications for smallholder farmers. In the future, agriculture will be driven by the private sector, while the governments role will be to create the right conditions for robust agricultural growth, particularly through public-private partnerships.
The Mahagrapes experience offers an encouraging example of such partnerships. Member farmers collectively invest in and manage the organisation, while the state government provides agri-marketing consultancy services as well as loans for cooling and packaging facilities.
In this way, government assumes the facilitator role and farmers become better equipped to negotiate with foreign buyers and efficiently disseminate market information. And the proof of this successful partnership is evident in the profits Mahagrape farmers gain nearly Rs 6 more for each kg of grapes they produce than their non-member counterparts.
Beyond public-private partnerships, India must improve its infrastructure, remove institutional barriers to private investment be it foreign or domestic in agro-processing and organised retailing, and foster an enabling environment that renders smallholder farmers more competitive and the country a global player in high-value agriculture.
(The author is director in Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, New Delhi office)
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