This article is a proposed solution to suicides of farmers in Western Maharashtra which is reported in the TIMES OF INDIA 7-Feb-2008
Amazingly a large portion of suicides reported are from farmlands having good irrigation facilities. Farmers report that the suicides are because of the decline in the cooperative movement not because of the irrigation reasons. Condition of agriculture share is quiet pathetic in India as 70% of Indian population related to agriculture contribute only 20% of the Indian GDP. Following are the some of the solutions are I propose for the problem.
- Public Private Partnership: PPP can go long ahead to solve rural problems. Financial institutes in collaboration with government agencies can percolate themselves to rural segment and educate them of the various microfinance schemes available. Such collaboration can save the private brands from getting tarnished by allegations like rural exploitation. As government agencies have deeper roots in rural society this would help private firms to reach people and needy easier. PPP can also be formed with fertilizer and farming equipments manufacturing companies who can educate the farmers of the new technologies that can be employed for better productivity. Grameen Bank of Bangladesh and SKS Finance are some of the examples working for rural segments. Financial PPPs can be a good substitute for Cooperative banks.
- ALID (Agriculture Lead Industrialization and Development): ALID also stands as a major tool for emancipation of farmers. Read more about ALID in my post (INDIA VERSUS BHARAT).
- Additional Source of Income: ALID advocates additional sources of income for farmers which can act as support for farmers under dire situations. Developing manufacturing units in rural areas can provide employments to farmers during non agricultural seasons.
- Increasing Savings: A recent study stated that only 3% of households in India put their savings in small savings account, insurance related products and equities. A strong awareness needs to be spread about these financial instruments which can help households and farmers harvest growth on their savings which otherwise is stashed in corners of home. PPP, Financial Institutes and NGO need to educate farmers of such growth opportunities. Indian government has recently directed financial institutes to work towards ‘Inclusive Banking’ which targets absorbing rural areas in the gambit of banking. No Frills accounts directed towards rural section of society are some of the options available with banks. “How India Earns and Saves” study clearly indicates the preference of Indian households towards post offices as saving agents. Government can bank upon such preferences and sell equity linked saving schemes through them. Selling of IPO forms through post offices is an innovative initiative but it needs to substantiated with awareness.