Source: Business Standard, May 15, 2015
Khanna / Kamargaon: Just one year after taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is facing a challenge that could come to haunt him – the farm sector that sustains three-fifths of the population is in deep trouble, and he is being blamed for not doing enough.
Promising good governance and a stronger economy, Modi romped to power in elections last May by the biggest margin any prime minister has got in three decades. But the rural crisis has dented his popularity and the vanquished opposition is finding new vigour in his discomfort.
From the start of the crop season last October through March, India’s farm exports have fallen more than 11% to $15 billion, as the impact of the global commodities glut has been sharpened by events like Iran’s nuclear talks and a currency dip in Brazil.
The fall in exports has depressed domestic farmgate prices just as unseasonal rain damaged winter crops such as wheat, potato, chickpea and rapeseed. Farmers have little money now to buy seeds for the summer sowing, and meteorologists have predicted the annual June-October monsoon will be below par, which means the next crop may also fail.