Amid the farmers’ protests which can be displaying no indicators of decision, it’s mandatory to notice two constructive developments. The primary is bumper harvests in 2019-20 and, more than likely, additionally 2020-21, on the again of successive good monsoons and prolonged winters. India has been lucky, not like different main producer nations which have skilled dry climate circumstances. La Nina has led to a paring of production estimates of maize and soyabean for 2020-21 even in the US. However the identical climate occasion has proved beneficial for India. Low temperatures, coupled with groundwater tables recharged from the ample monsoon rains, promise glorious rabi crops of wheat, mustard, chickpea, purple lentil, area pea, potato, cumin seed, coriander, onion and garlic due for harvest from subsequent month.
That hyperlinks up with the second encouraging piece of reports: Worldwide costs. The United Nations’ Meals and Agriculture Organisation’s world meals price index has hit a 78-month excessive in January. The explanations for it embrace the tightening global provides throughout agri-commodities, regular normalisation of demand with most nations unlocking their economies after Could, and substantial shopping for by China looking for to construct up its strategic meals reserves. Meals inflation is a fear not simply for China. Even Argentina has briefly suspended maize export registrations, whereas Russia has clamped taxes on wheat and different grain shipments. Not solely has India’s agriculture production been comparatively unaffected, as a report in this newspaper has proven, the nation’s export of farm produce has registered a 9.8 per cent year-on-year development throughout April-December 2020. The truth that this has occurred regardless of general merchandise exports falling 15.5 per cent — agricultural operations continued largely unimpeded even throughout the peak COVID-induced lockdown part until June — is a narrative value projecting in these turbulent occasions.
Over the past rabi season, Indian farmers harvested bumper crops, however could not profit because of the demand destruction wrought by the lockdown. The approaching harvesting season affords a chance for them to reap the benefits of each greater production and costs. It additionally gives a political opening for the Narendra Modi authorities. Farmers are rational financial brokers. There isn’t any higher balm to appease their frayed nerves than good costs. In the event that they get that at the moment, their hostility to the farm reform legal guidelines might significantly cut back. The Modi authorities ought to use the luck from the weather-enabled bumper production in India and an ongoing global price recovery to achieve out to farmers — in a fashion higher than it has completed until now.