Hunger for more or more for hunger? (contd)
Over the years, agriculture has been deliberately turned into a losing proposition. As a result, farmers in most places are keen to move out, provided they get a better price for their land. This is a global phenomenon. It is primarily for this reason that even in a highly subsidised Europe, where farmers receive direct income support, one farmer every minute is forced to quit farming. Agriculture is increasingly coming under big agribusinesses. The same trend is being adopted in India, which alone has one-fourth of the world’s farmers.
While good productive farmland is being diverted for non-agricultural purposes, there is no mention of the resulting disaster awaiting the nation as far as food security is concerned. As per rough estimates, 6.6 million hectares would be taken out of farming in UP, which would mean a production loss of 14 million tonnes of foodgrains. In other words, UP will be faced with a terrible food crisis in the years to come, the seeds for which are being sown now. The question no one is asking is who will feed UP?
What is not being realised is that crisis in that state alone will make all estimates of the proposed National Food Security Act go topsy-turvy. An economic superpower cannot be built on hungry stomachs. The need, therefore, is to immediately ban the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. This has to be followed with a comprehensive development planning Act that is people-friendly and replaces the draconian Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
[Originally published in Tehelka and here.]