“It is the farmers who need to be brought to the table before making any policy for them”: Ajay Vir Jakhar
The concluding session of the Rural Voice Agriculture Conclave and NEDAC Awards 2021 had “Enabling Policy Environment for Agriculture and Rural Sector” as its topic. Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, was one of the participants. Here is his take on policymaking for the farmers.
Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj, shared his views in the session on “Enabling Policy Environment for Agriculture and Rural Sector” at the Rural Voice Agriculture Conclave and NEDAC Awards 2021 in New Delhi on December 23.
He started with memories of Chaudhary Charan Singh, a farmer leader and former Prime Minister of India. His birth anniversary is celebrated as Kisan Diwas (Farmers’ Day) and also happens to be the Foundation Day of Rural Voice. Jakhar said that Charan Singh never attended any Jat programme. And he got the college at Baraut, which had earlier been named after him, renamed.
The implication was that he did not confine himself to a particular caste. And this is a principle that needs to be borne in mind if the farmers’ lot is to be bettered. “The recent farmers’ movement was successful because it was above caste and religion,” said Jakhar.
“Countries like the US and China change their agricultural policies every four to five years,” Jakhar said. “But our country has just no policy. The policy changes if it rains. The policy changes if a famine occurs.”
Jakhar said that the country, therefore, needed an agricultural policy. But policies from foreign consultants like E&Y and Grant Thornton won’t help. These consultants may be consulted but they should not be policymakers.
Citing the example of Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs), Jakhar said the FPO policy came two years ago. Now, it will have to be seen after five years how successful this policy is. “The mere implementing of a policy does not ensure its success.”
Jakhar narrated the story of a nutrition expert and a marketing expert. Both of them were good persons with well-meaning intentions. The nutrition expert could make high-quality cattle feed. Assume that one of these experts is the central government and the other a state government. Both these experts together made a cattle feed which could sell like hotcakes and benefit cattle too. Being the world’s best and supported by top-class marketing, the cattle feed got sold fully on the very first day. But a month later, there were no repeat orders. Jakhar said the cattle in this story stand for the farmers.
In this way, said Jakhar, policies come and go but the farmers make little out of it. If at all the government wants farmers’ welfare, “it is the farmers who need to be brought to the table before making any policy for them. Only then you can make them benefit from the policy.”