Farmers Need More Aid, To Eradicate Poverty
Farmers Need More Aid, To Eradicate Poverty
By Kamala Sarup
The provision for cheap and reliable efficient transportation, adequate power, water management and sanitation to the entirety of the land-area of a region is the absolute precondition for successful economic growth of the agriculture sector as a whole.
Farmers generally prefer collaboration and consensus but poverty, lack of employment opportunities, lack of consciousness, social discrimination, and lack of political commitment for seeking problem solution are the root causes for the continuation and increment of farmers poverty. Farmers are facing discrimination in access to health, education, employment, and other areas. Among many factors the poor status of infrastructure and services, are more responsible for this cause.
Even on the other side the on going internal war and terrorism on the region has caused major economic disruption. Affected farmers including populations have suffered the loss of means of production, household assets and other investments. They have been unable to develop their livelihoods because they have been unable to invest in agriculture and have lost productive members of the household. They have had to divert household expenditure to non-productive expenses such as additional health care, food purchase and replacement of lost assets. Due to the terrorism and war, social groups - small ethnic minorities, indigenous farmers and so on - are the others who are also affected the most.
There is not enough land to absorb the available village labor force in agriculture. Starvation deaths are often reported in rural areas.
It is about time that region resolves the subsidy issue. There is a need for subsidy not just in irrigation facilities, but also in fertilizers and exports. Cash-cropping became a way to enter the international arena of market and trade. In fact, this strategy has been in use by farmers in Tikalore Clubs in Zomba and Blantyre in southern Malawi.
But lack of easy access to rural financing, poor delivery system of modern agricultural technologies, poor quality of agriculture inputs - mainly fertilizer - and lack of effective institution to facilitate agricultural marketing are some of the major causes for the low competitiveness of farmers. On the other hand inadequate rural roads and insufficient electrification have been other bottlenecks that led to the increase in the cost of production of the Asianagro-products.
Governments in the region should establish guidelines for credit allocation. More rural financial institutions are needed to be mobilized. Special funds should be designated for loans, sometimes at subsidized interest rates. It is estimated that farmers in Asia have less than one half of the total farming equipment.
In Asia, even women farmers do most of the inland fishing and handle most of the work associated with fish farming. They also raise livestock and manage dairy production. Studies show that in most communities throughout Asia much of the agricultural work - and, in many cases, much of the trading - as well as many of the cottage industries are run by women.
Farmers are essential to improving the production and distribution of food, and enhancing the living conditions of people in rural areas. Yet, farmers are often among the poorest.
There is still a big gap between good intentions and effective actions. Better regulatory systems, underpinned by effective information and education on crop protection methods are essential.
However, the conflict, political instability, and the contradicting policies formulated by different governments only disturb the smooth flow of agricultural activities in the region.
Hunger Increasing And Questions Of Farmer's Right
According to FAO "despite dramatic economic progress in Asia over the last three decades, a significant portion of the population remains poor as the fruits of development have not been shared equally across countries and within countries of the region. Poverty and food insecurity have emerged as one of the greatest development challenges for the region. Key factors that contribute to this preoccupying trend are the widening of the gap between the affluent and the poor, the inequality in access to the benefits of economic and technological progress, and the continued risk of disaster-related and complex emergencies". report said.
"Policy is at the core of the success of any development strategy. Future economic progress in Asia must be pro-poor and aim at a rapid eradication of poverty and hunger," said He Changchui, FAO's regional chief in Bangkok.
A few countries in Asia such as China and Viet Nam have already reached the first Millennium Development Goal. Other Asian nations could also reach that goal if efforts are made to achieve moderate increases in growth coupled with a reduction of income inequality, FAO said.
"Significant dent in rural poverty reduction will not be achieved unless people-centred, pro-poor agricultural and rural development policies are designed and implemented to enhance the access of the rural poor to productive assets, technology, financial services and markets". FAO further added.
As for hunger in the Asia today, there is plenty of it. Unfortunately, under capitalism, "the consumer is king", and under autocractic governments the hierarchy takes care of itself first, so people born in more favorable environments with ability and motivation will get a big share of the food while those in less favored environments will go hungry.
Governments temper the inequalities somewhat by redistributing income from the rich to the poor, but these efforts do not close the inequality gap sufficiently to prevent hunger. Therefore, there will be continued famines in the world including in Asia. Today, humanitarian organizations, such as the U.N., the U.S., and other NGOs redistribute food, but in insufficient quantities to keep famines from occurring as a result of wars, revolutions and crop failures.
If the government increases farmers' participation in market management genuinely poor farmers would able to sell their goods more effectively. Because farmers in Asia can produce saleable surpluses, they have to struggle to gain sales in the rich markets.
Farmers need more aid, and meaningful steps to eradicate extreme poverty. Farmers must have a right to be involved in all economic processes and development at all levels. They must be empowered at all levels of decision-making power. All of these are fundamentals to the whole approach when it comes to agricultural development.
To manage the existing farmers problem, the root causes should be addressed in order to take the problem to a logical end.
Kamala Sarup is an editor of http://peacejournalism.com/