Indian Farmer commits suicides as a matter of routine. This is not just a non – payment of debt which force them to commit suicide but a complete agriculture system which start with land management to soil development to farming to marketing of farm produce. Indian agriculture faces challenges not only from Monsoon but from many factors.
This is often said that India lives in villages and mainly associated with agriculture. On another side, India hates agriculture, farmer, and agricultural development. Everyone wants to be out of agricultural net even as consumer of agricultural produces.
Digital India ( #DigitalIndia) will be a simple failure if it could not reverse erosion of agriculture system in the country. There are several aspects of Indian agriculture system which need immediate intervention from information system. Soil testing and development, Rain prediction, harvest planning, produce mix planning, remote sensing, cost calculation, produce pricing, price discovery, mandi – management, forward trading, cooperative organisation management, warehousing, warehousing management, risk planning, risk assessment, insurance planning, agricultural credit management, debt repayment system and restructuring, F2C (farmer to consumer) platform, F2F (Farmer to farmer) platform, F2B (Farmer to Businesses like food process and others) platform and best before management of produces are some of long list. Unfortunately we are handling all issues in isolation from of each other. We need a comprehensive platform with severable but connected interfaces. We may develop this only with help of and for all walks of agricultural system and village life.
Cost Calculation and Price Discovery Mechanism:
For purpose, I have picked only one aspect of agricultural life for my suggestion to Digital India initiative. This is cost calculation and price discovery mechanism.
Presently, when a farmer came to agricultural marker called mandi, he has no fair information of price to be offered. The only thing, a farmer knows before hand, government declared minimum support price which in fact act as maximum wholesale price for a farmer. When farmer reaches mandi, he has no option but to sale produce at any price to save his cost of further transportation and waiting charges asked by transporter. He could not take this produce back to his house or warehouse. Farm produce never have ex- farm price unlike industrial product have ex – factory prices.
Any producer including farmer need profitable price over cost. Indian agriculture pricing unfortunately driven by consumer sentiment which is biased against agricultural produced. Indian Agricultural prices are being forced towards direct agriculture costs eating all fair share of agricultural profit. These days we celebrate growing profit of an industrial conglomerate but worry about paying a penny of profit to farmer. First farmer and their consumers need a cost calculation not only to direct expenses but up to fair share of indirect expanses. Thereafter farmers need a price discovery mechanism as early as sowing of seeds.
Price discovery for agricultural produce is a game of probability and variable of sowing area of particular crop, weather conditions, warehousing, market demand, export possibilities, government policies and market access. Another variable is subsidy declared to various farm inputs. All these subsidy must not be given to input producer companies but to farmer directly in ratio of their produce. Same way, all crops should have insurance based on each farm units of a hectare either directly by the government or offered by not less than three special agricultural insurance companies with standard clauses and variable premium depending upon crops and locality. All these also need digital footprints of information technology.
On the first part, to ensure proper price discovery government should not declare minimum support price but standard total cost of various farm produce which should include all direct and indirect cost. This Standard total cost may act minimum floor price for farm produce.
Secondly, farmer should have a fair idea possible price from digital market mechanism. Such platform may use informational technology for calculation of probability and variable of sowing area of particular crop, weather conditions, warehousing, market demand, export possibilities, government policies and market access.
Thirdly, information technology should help price discovery for farmer by way of F2F, F2B, F2C platforms. Farmer should not be in any need to move farm produce outside his farm or warehouse without any price discovery and/or market contract.
I submit this suggestion for public discussion and improvement. I hope #DigitalIndia (Digital India) is not a slogan. While writing this for a contest, I am inspired by this claim; “Intel is committed towards our government’s vision of a Digital India. Through its ‘Digital Skills for India’ and ‘Innovate for India’ initiatives, Intel has been fostering technology as the enabler for creating a digitized India.”