How much of Dr Manmohan Singh’s talk on reforming agriculture will get translated into action?
Inaugurating the Second Agriculture Summit 2006 organised jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture and FICCI, the Prime Minister declared that the endeavour of his government would be to bridge each of the four deficit viz. the public investment and credit deficit, the infrastructure deficit, the market economy deficit and the knowledge deficit, which are responsible for the development deficit in the agrarian and rural economy.
Dr Manmohan Singh, threw open a debate in his speech by raising the questions like, what was actually needed by the farmers – a lower rate of interest or reliable access to credit at reasonable rates; whether our existing institutional framework was adequate for meeting the requirements of our farmers who were a diverse lot, whether we need it to create new institutional structures such as SHGs, micro finance institutions etc to proviproved and reliable access to credit and whether we needed to bring in money lenders under some form of regulation and he wanted Summit to find the answers.
The Prime Minister declared and called for fresh thinking on ways to incentivise greater public and private investment in irrigation [FICCI]
In addition to plugging his government’s rural employment guarantee and rural infrastructure fund, he also announced the setting up of the National Rainfed Area Authority that will promote “knowledge-based interventions” in rural areas.
The bad news is that the government is still in the process of asking the conference attendees to debate the topic. The good news is that Dr Singh at least appears to be ready for some fresh thinking. Well, here’s some fresh thinking, but will the heart allow his government to even attempt it?