Does Small Farmer Really in Distress Under Neoliberal Agriculture Policy ? – West Bengal Scenario

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Subir Kumar BARDHAN ROY, Centre For Strategic Studies, India
Moderate temperature regime, sufficient rainfall, different agro-ecologies and agro –systems allow West Bengal farmers to grow different kinds of Tropical and sub-tropical crops in Southern Gangetic Plain and in Northern Himalayan ecology round the year. Rice is the main crop covering 80% of net cropped area. Average land holding <0.6ha. Potato, vegetables, jute , Oil seeds are few commercial crops cover the rest. However, Rice culture is main stay of livelihood and contributes subsistence rural economy.

New crop production technologies, weather resilient crop varieties and agro- infrastructural support help the farmers to increase their production . Neo-liberal policy of the Government along with globalisation open a new vista for quality crop and fish and poultry farmimg for export, value added processing for increasing urban culinary demand, bestow improved village economy. Food giants like Pepsi, Relience, Caventer, Metro , Spencer etc consumes farmers produced at a higher rate at farm gate. Geographical location of the state opens a path of exporting farm produced and value- added processes food to adjacent Asian countries and also in the neighbouring states. Thus contribution of Agriculture and allied farming in states economy has increased gradually.

Over the decades, there is hardly any report of suicidal death of small farmers due to failure of rice / cereal crop in the state. Commercial crop like Potato,fish culture, poultry need high monetary investment which small farmers unableto spend.. Big farmers, urban business people invest on it in large scale for a quick return. Environmental hazards, Over production , Market glut contribute heavy loss in certain years. Failure to repay loan leads to suicidal death.