Myth 1 Small and Marginal Farmer can’t be productive.
India has the second-highest acreage of arable agriculture land next to the US. As per 2010-11 census, India had an average land holding of 1.15 hectares against 0.6 hectares of China. China has two times more farmers than India and three times more marginal farmers and share cropper. Despite this China produces 40% more paddy and three times more fruit with lower arable land dedicated to these crops. It is not only a manufacturing power but the world’s largest exporter of processed food. India’s two dozen food parks started a decade back but has a capital utilisation of less than 20% with little or no marketing or processing infrastructure.
Myth 2 India’s water shortage is due to rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.
Central Water Commission (CWC) report states that 85.3% of India’s water was consumed by the agriculture sector in the year 2000. Since then no countrywide study has been done on sectoral water consumption but India became a water deficient country as per the 2010–2011 census, when it’s per capita availability of water fell to 1,545 cubic metres per person. This disproportionate use of water happens primarily in two states of northern India that has canal infrastructure and cultivate crops that are water intensive.
Myth 3 : MSP helps small and marginal farmers
Punjab and Haryana account for a third of paddy and wheat procured at MSP by FCI. In the year 2019-2020 this rose by 15% to touch Rs 56000 crores for Punjab and Rs 24000 crore for Haryana.
The two states have just 5% of the country’s marginal farmers and 27% of rich farmer’s. So it is the rich farmer who gets maximum benefit of MSP and not the marginal farmer. Besides with emphasis on MSP procurement of wheat and rice the farmers have no incentive to diversify into production of pulses,fruits and vegetables which are often insufficient that will be beneficial for even the small
and marginal farmer.
For more on the subject read the extract 3 Myths of Indian Farmlands that needs to be dispelled :
Page 135 to 137 Chapter 12 Indian Agriculture at Crossroads
India Emerging Policy Paralysis to Hyper Economics published by Bloomsbury in April 2019.