5 Questions With : Mohan Kanda, Former Agriculture Secretary
Updated on: 28 Jun 2016
Former Agriculture Secretary Mohan Kanda spent over two decades of his career in government focusing on the agriculture and rural development sector. With a Masters in Mathematics and a doctorate in cooperative agricultural credit, Kanda joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1968. He was Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh before moving to the Centre and finally being promoted as Union Agriculture Secretary. Post-retirement, Kanda was a member of the National Disaster Management Authority and closely monitored relief and rehabilitation work after the 2004 tsunami in Andaman and Nicobar, the Kosi floods in Bihar in 2008 and the Kurnool and Mahboobnagar floods in Andhra Pradesh in 2009.
Kanda has authored several books including "The Tinctured Canvas" (Concept, Practice and Strategies in Rural Development), "Vasundhara" (An Anthology of Land Resources in India), "Forgiving Earth" (The Dynamics of Policy Support Reforms for the Millennium Farmer in the Asia Pacific Region) and "Not by Others' Hands" – An Anthology of a Century of Credit Cooperatives in India (A tribute to the Cooperative Movement in the International Year of Cooperation 2012). In an interview with VIJAY THAKUR, Kanda spoke on the agrarian crisis and the problems faced by farmers in the country. Excerpts:
How do you see the present status of agriculture in India? Farmers are committing suicide as they are not getting returns on their investment.
The entire sector is in distress. Agrarian crisis is a matter of grave concern. If you noticed, in some places in Andhra Pradesh people have preferred crop holidays for they were not getting the right remuneration for their produce. These are very disturbing symptoms. And naturally, things are going to worsen in the coming years. The scourge of farmers ending their lives on account of crop failure will continue. Every year we talk of production and crop yield and not what farmers are getting. We have inherited a British legacy for 70 years. Increasing production and enhanced productivity do not necessarily reflect healthy farming systems. In fact the majority of suicides by farmers happened in the wake of glut in commodities such as cotton, tobacco, chillies, potatoes and onions, following record production and yields.
The Centre and states should seriously take a relook before it is too late. Our policy makers should understand that everything can wait but not agriculture.
In the past five decades, the agriculture sector's contribution in the GDP has reduced to more than half. What needs to be done to help the farming community and increase their share in the GDP?