Farmer Anju Devi, left, takes a break from harvesting wheat at a farm in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Farm Loan Waivers Atonement For Lack Of Agriculture Reform, Says Ashok Gulati

The recent spate of farm loan waivers should be seen as an atonement for the sin of not reforming the agriculture sector, prominent agricultural economist Ashok Gulati told BloombergQuint.

The government needs to undertake major policy overhaul in agriculture, put in its own money and leverage private sector investment, Gulati said on the sidelines of Emkay’s annual investor conference or the Emkay-DBS Confluence.

Unless you do that, just making political statements because that’s the largest constituency for your votes, is not going to take you very far.
Ashok Gulati, Agricultural Economist

Gulati emphasised that there is not enough incentive in farming jobs resulting in the current agrarian distress. “If you're not getting what your cost is, are you excited to do anything,” he questioned.

Besides, it not easy for farmers to switch jobs due to lack of skills. Even if they do get out they'd stick to meagre low-paying, unproductive jobs, Gulati said.

There is massive skill formation needed and we need to take 100 million people out of agriculture. But not push, it should we a pull factor. When they are pushed out and become coolies, that’s not what the country wants. You give them better skills and they go to higher productivity jobs, that’s the process of development. 
Ashok Gulati, Agricultural Economist