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

Articles by Sukhpal SinghSubscribe to Sukhpal Singh

MSP in a Changing Agricultural Policy Environment

The minimum support price and the public procurement system are indispensable for national food security, public distribution system, farmer livelihood and welfare, and agricultural growth. Over time, the MSP regime has been beleaguered with weaknesses. Thus, agricultural reforms are essential to rectify these primarily by firming the government’s role in agricultural marketing to ensure farmer welfare. However, the new farm laws foster a policy environment based on the laissez-faire approach that will be inimical to farmers’ interests.

Punjab Agriculture

Punjab’s economy, including its agriculture, has been in crisis for some time on various fronts. But the pandemic provided an opportunity to the state government to set up an expert committee to suggest measures for rolling out a medium- and long-term strategy for the revival of the state economy. This article provides critical commentary on the various recommendations of the committee to deal with the agrarian crisis and presents an alternative perspective.

Punjab’s Agricultural Labourers in Transition

Agricultural labourers are undergoing a socio-economic transition due to the intensified capitalisation of agriculture. The change in structure of rural employment in Punjab, over a period, has two prominent facets: shift of agricultural labour to non-farm sector, and conversion of permanent/attached labour in agriculture to casual labour. This longitudinal study, in 1987–88 and 2018–19, presents the transition in agricultural labour households in the state. While the agricultural labour households, solely depending on meagre income from the agricultural sector are struggling, the ones shifting to the non-farm sector are switching over to menial jobs. Rural agro-industrialisation for overall improvement in the employment situation along with enhanced wages, liberal institutional credit and debt waiver specific to workers are vital aspects that need attention.

Reforming Agricultural Markets in India

The union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare had prescribed a model Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act in 2003. The state-level adoption of the act has been tardy and varied in terms of both the magnitude and content of agricultural market reforms. Yet, the ministry under the current central government has come up with another model act, the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2017, supposedly an improvement over the 2003 act. Among other things, the provision that has grabbed much attention is the removal of contract farming from the APMC domain to a separate model act of Agricultural Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion and Facilitation). Analysing these draft acts, the paper finds that both the model acts suffer from serious conceptual lacunae that have implications for their application and governance, and, consequently, for inclusive and sustainable agricultural development.

Death in the Midst of Plenty

There remain misconceptions regarding farmer suicides. There is a need to set right these erroneous ideas based on scientific studies that have been conducted seeking to devise solutions to address the prevailing crisis of the peasantry in Punjab.

Doubling Farmers’ Incomes

The government’s initiative to increase farmers’ incomes is welcome as it is central to dealing with the agrarian crisis in India. Various mechanisms for increasing farmers’ incomes from the perspective of small farmers and farm workers are critically examined. The article proposes a focus on high-value crops and rain-fed areas, non-farm occupations, agro-industrialisation, and strengthening and innovating producer and worker institutions in India. It also presents insights from China’s proposed strategy for doubling farmers’ incomes there.

Agrarian Distress: Beyond Cropping Pattern and Credit

Pointing out some analytical and factual limitations in Ajay Dandekar and Sreedeep Bhattacharya’s paper (EPW, 27 May 2017), important aspects of agrarian distress are discussed.

Addressing the Agrarian Crisis in Punjab

The state of agricultural markets, the agricultural market policy and regulatory reforms in Punjab are reviewed in the context of the agrarian crisis. The farmer and farm worker manifesto of the Aam Aadmi Party is critically assessed. Policy mechanisms for agro-industrial development of the state are suggested.

Tenancy Reforms

There is no doubt that the agricultural land leasing laws in India need to be amended to make land leasing legal and easier. The Niti Aayog report (2016) proposes a formal model law on land leasing. Critically examining the logic for liberalisation of land leasing laws, the limitations of the model lease agreement are brought out. It is argued that the model law ignores the diversity and dynamics of leasing arrangements in India and the socio-economic implications of the realities of tenancy practices.

Inclusiveness and Viability of Value Chains

​ Commercial and Inclusive Value Chains: Doing Good and Doing Well edited by Malcolm Harper, John Belt and Rajeev Roy; Warwickshire (UK): Practical Action Publishing, 2015; pp 200, ₹2,040.

Commission Agent System

Responding to the critique of their article on the commission agent system in Punjab, the authors highlight the perils of private solutions to agrarian problems. They propose an enhanced role of the public sector in obliterating the exploitative stronghold of arthiya system in order to protect the interests of farmers and address the problems of Punjab's agrarian economy.

Arthiyas in Punjab's APMC Mandis

A critique of "Commission Agent System: Significance in Contemporary Agricultural Economy of Punjab" by Sukhpal Singh and Shruti Bhogal (EPW, 7 November 2015).

Pages

Back to Top