P Sainath: Imagining post-covid Rainfed Agriculture: Learning from the current crisis (The RRA Network)
Published On: 3rd May, 2020 | Duration: 1 hour, 12 min, 20 sec
Don’t Tinker, Transform!
In this webinar, ‘Imagining Post-Covid Rainfed Agriculture – Learning from the Current Crisis’, P. Sainath, Founder Editor of People’s Archive of Rural India, has spoken on range of issues that are having, and would have an impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers in India.
An approximate 40 crore people migrate for employment annually, and nearly 10 crore of those people move from state to state. Sainath explains how these people lost their livelihoods in one day. He also takes through how the lockdown has affected agrarian and larger sections of rural society in the country.
In addition, Sainath points out how their nutritional security of the people and children are dependent on the frontline workers – ASHA, Anganwadi, and Sanitation workers. He establishes the connection between the frontline workers and nutritional security of people.
Thus, he emphasizes the importance of ‘change in the course’, instead of ‘course correction’, for a fundamental shift in the policy.
Coming to the migration, he asks everyone to think on why people moved out of their villages in the first place. More than ever, now, the purchasing power falls, and therefore the consumption levels, as nearly 70% of small and marginal farmers are net buyers of food grains in the market. Therefore, he calls for a complete switch from cash crops to food crops, especially in the coming Kharif season.
In the long-term, though, he identifies that agriculture has to be looked at from an agro-ecological lens, and factor-in climate change, technology etc. But that has to include political processes or who controls the processes becomes important. Forms of ownership, decentralization, inequality, planning and rights over resources are a few other areas that he talked upon.
To this end, Sainath identifies that tinkering one or two policies would not help, but a transformation is needed for turning the current crisis into an opportunity – for the welfare of farmers.
P Sainath is an acclaimed journalist who focuses on social & economic inequality, rural affairs, poverty and the aftermath of globalization in India. He is the founder editor of the People's Archive of Rural India and a senior fellow for Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He was the Rural Affairs Editor at The Hindu. Since 2011, he has been working on the People's Archive of Rural India.
Amartya Sen has called him "one of the world's great experts on famine and hunger".
Introduction by Gagan Sethi Chair RRAN