Tuesday, March 30, 2010

UPFA agricultural policies are wrong, self serving, politically expedient, patronizing and most of all destructive- read on

The mess our agriculture is in due to the populist agenda that fools the people

I speak with considerable experience having been mired in both dry zone and wet zone agriculture for the past 6 years and being the only person in Sri Lanka who farms at the same minimal peasant allotments of between 5 and 10 acres, and produces about 50 different food items, including milk, eggs and coconut oil, that I transport personally, (me being the driver) and delivers to my shop and direct to consumers homes, I work through the day and drive through the night in order to keep my small business alive and the mouths fed.(about 35 directly)

I am harassed and delayed at night, by traffic cops seeking bakshish, checkpoints because I am easier to stop than a speeding Pajero, by security forces personnel just having to check someone to justify their enormous pay in comparison to farm workers who work harder for little reward.

I challenge all comers to a debate on the nuances of marginal agriculture that 90% of the so called farmers engage in, and the perpetuation of their poverty, by the current agricultural policies of the government with well meaning slogans that are blatantly wrong misleading and downright patronizing to the hardworking people of this country who are being completely fooled, bamboozled and coerced into voting for the wrong ideals, and subjecting them into a permanent poverty trap, to be exploited by these very same politicians pretending to be their saviors.

This government has been the bane of productive farmers by only assisting unproductive ones with wasteful subsidies and false promises of help. We need a complete policy shift that can benefit the vast majority of the people in this country and the government just does not get it. The people who know no better, believe in the parroted lies hoping to find relief in promises that realistically cannot be fulfilled unless there is a complete change of emphasis and direction aimed at productivity and excellence along with the tools to do so.

We produce agriculture graduates, to be government servants as extension officers who are the bane of the farmers as they know nothing and pretend to work, whilst we are in dire need of dedicated and trained agriculturists to run and manage larger units using their knowledge, coupled with the experience of growing in more productive units using the latest techniques with access to adequate funding.

Daily, I see this humongous fertilizer subsidy washed down the fields, by uneducated incompetent farmers whose costs, if their labor is fairly priced, far exceed the selling price of their products. The larger more productive farms that could use the subsidy wisely don’t get it and they still make a profit.

The biggest political lie is that we have convinced half the electorate that they are farmers, when they are not. A farmer is someone who produces a surplus of food over and above what he consumes. Only about 10% of those classified as farmers fall into this category. The others just happen to live on productive farmland in villas and think they are poor, but work as bureaucrats, policemen, hospital staff, bus drivers and shop keepers to name just a fraction of the areas that not just supplement their income but provide most of their income.

We continue with giving land to landless to keep them mired in poverty and beholden to the politicians for giving this land, instead of making better use of this agricultural land in a productive sense, and giving people housing nearer urban areas, so they can more usefully be able to reduce the commute times and costs, and have closer access to schools and hospitals in their inevitable jobs that cannot be sustained by farming. Give them 10 perches please and not three acres.

Only 10% of the heads of households in my area would be considered worthy of being called “knowledgeable farmers”. They lack productive land as useless wastrels living on government largesse (thugs, goons, party men who got free govt. land but live elsewhere, moonshine distillers, and those looking to make a buck out of exploitation of others) are occupying prime property, received by them or their ancestors free of charge.

I have a plan that will double the nation’s food output, with no extra inputs (this will reduce imports and increase exports) reduce the wastage and reduce the price of food for the consumer, while at the same time reducing the marginal so called farmer to be more productive in other fields where his abilities can be better rewarded. We cannot afford to give farming to the least educated, but should gradually encourage the most educated as it is the vocation with greatest risk, and thereby potentially the greatest reward, which people at the margin cannot hope to understand and therefore exploit for personal gain.

If you are in any doubt as to the practicality of what I propose, read the hundreds of pages in this blog which are devoted to all the aspects of improvements, which I have through personal suffering experienced and feel is needed if we are to get ahead. I am involved in almost all varieties of agricultural production in a practical sense including tea in the green and black tea production as well as organic and non organic methods. Just to add a little more power to my words, I am the only person in Sri Lanka that grows 6 varieties of paddy and has 15 varieties of my own rice, to sell direct to my customers, who I supply myself, albeit in a very limited scale as my land extent is small and I have very marginal land to grown in.

Sadly no one in this country has the guts to take on this monolothic giant that is unpatriotic, bent on keeping the people in serfdom so they can be autocratic rulers. Worst of all when they receive an overwhelming plebiscite they will actually believe they are right, when it is the slogans that did it.


Magerata said...

Hi Rajarata,
I think I understand your your pain. But I doubt that fault lies on UPFA, Most of the farm lands were given even before there ever was a UPFA.
It would have more correct if you substitute UPFA with "System". Who ever comes to power will continue the same practice. Because it is easier.
I think it would be best if you put your plan into action, even at a small scale. Once you are successful, people will notice and follow. Some may even say it tis their idea.
If you have any doubt of success, look up Nandisiri Wanninayaka, a teacher from Wanni, who stand shoulder to shoulder with young world leaders. He may not be as rich as Mark Zuckerberg from facebook, but they are in the same group of leaders.
Harassment on the roads are minor annoyances, even Americans are facing check points (many) in Arizona now by Homeland Security looking for illegal Mexican immigrants!

Anonymous said...

The powers that be should take cogniznnce of this analysis of our agricultural policy, invite the writer to a discussion,aquaint themselves with the relavant details necessary for development as otherwise we will still be in this plight in the years to come.
This analysis shows that wittingly or otherwise, the decision makers appear not to be in a position to solving our problem.
I think it is essential for us all to have an analysis of our failures and map ot a policy for the future. Otherwise history will merely repeat itself.

Rajaratarala said...

the three deleted comments are just repeats of the second comment that probably had been posted repetitively, as I don't as a rule delete any comments I receive, be they good or bad as I let the reader judge for him or herself the content of the blog and the comments unedited.

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