Farming has remained an integral part of the culture in the Indian subcontinent, with agriculture serving as the backbone of the economy for several decades. However, farming as an occupation has subsided with every generation. While many farmers migrate to cities for better jobs, others are burdened by the scourge of poverty and debt. Today, less than 2% of the farmer’s children today wish to be farmers. One of the major reasons why agriculture — despite being an essential human activity — has not been able to generate income for families. Perhaps because it was never encouraged as an entrepreneurial activity.
As organic farming gains momentum, people are beginning to see the entrepreneurial side of agriculture.
- There are many examples where people are taking up large areas of land and converting them into farms, producing and selling a variety of food items.
- Terrace-farming or backyard farming are gaining traction for understanding the process of farming better and selling the produce for additional income.
- Entrepreneurs are also collaborating with farmers, equipping them with advanced technology knowhow, thereby expanding novel business endeavours.
Several Agri-tech startups, Farmer Producer Organisations (FPO), and Agri-storage companies have sprung up. This brings hope that the Indian youth is beginning to see farming as not just an occupation of the past but in a creative entrepreneurial venture of the future that tabs skills, innovation, and technology.
Until now, the Indian farmers were compelled to sell their produce at the MSP (Minimum Support Price, pre-decided by the government) to the middlemen at their local mandi. However, last month, in September 2020, the Indian government announced the new Farm bills.
Indian farmers would now have the freedom to sell their produce directly to anybody and anywhere across the States even at a price higher than the MSP. The Indian government, buying a fixed amount of food grains at a fixed price from the farmers not only left the farmer poor but resulted in over 16% wastage of agricultural produce generating a loss of approximately Rs 90,000 crore annually.
However, there are several challenges which the farmers would still have to face. They are yet not in the position to negotiate higher prices and are prone to be dominated by private sector monopolies. Efficient FPOs are required to let farmers control their pricing. Also, market facilities, infrastructure, and awareness would be key to integrating farmers into a wider market.