ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By N Chandrasekhara Rao

Improved Terms of Trade for Agriculture

Using a more comprehensive method to assess the terms of trade between agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, a key indicator for the government's agricultural price policies, this article finds that the ToT for farmers and the agricultural sector improved rapidly between 2004-05 and 2010-11, after which they stagnated till 2013-14.

On the 'Failure of Bt Cotton': Analysing a Decade of Experience

Given that the controversy over success and failure of Bt technology still exists, this paper discusses the available field studies that have addressed agro-economic questions of Bt cotton cultivation in India. Since a meta-analysis of studies can give only partial conclusions, owing to differences across study methodologies and coverage, this paper takes a different strategy, i e, looking not simply at differences between Bt farms and non-Bt farms, but at the experience of farmers before growing Bt and after switching to Bt. It also examines the more general problem of comparing field studies and suggests ways to use farmer behaviour as a proxy for settling different interpretations of agro-economic effects of the new technology. The study explains why there has been so much controversy given virtually universal adoption of Bt technology in cotton and concludes that in the battle of numbers around Bt cotton, those of the farmers have been curiously missing.

Agricultural Price Policy, Farm Profitability and Food Security

Agricultural price policy has come under serious attack recently for recommending support prices higher than what the costs of production warrant, supposedly leading to a distortion of the market, and, therefore, to food deprivation. With an in-depth analysis of costs and returns in rice and wheat, which are the most state-protected crops and underlie the livelihoods of millions of farmers, this paper examines the effectiveness of agricultural price policy in enabling farmers to obtain sufficient profits to promote investment, technology and productivity and thereby to food security. The rising cost of production due to the overemphasis on getting input prices right is a major factor that has led to higher support prices. Another factor is the percolation of volatility in global prices through trade liberalisation. Because of this, wheat support prices had to be hiked steeply in recent years so that sufficient quantities are procured. This has distorted parity between the prices of rice and wheat.

Biotechnology and Pro-Poor Agricultural Development

Until now the debate on agricultural biotechnology mainly focused on the environmental impact, biosafety issues and intellectual property rights. This paper looks at the nature of commercialised biotech products, the changing locus of agricultural research, the emerging market failures in biotech product development, and the likely impact on poverty and employment. The evidence shows that Bt cotton is scale neutral and profitable to all groups of farmers. But research in biotechnology is mainly in the hands of a few large multinational companies which focus on crops and traits that are significant to the developed countries and not the resource-poor farmers. The public sector, therefore, must step in to pursue basic research that will benefit the poorer farmers.