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Submitted by IS on
As a development practioner, I am more concerned about the fact that there is movement of labour out of agriculture. For countries in South Asia, this is a serious matter, as our food security depends on our agriculture productivity. We must look at the reasons for the labour movement out of agriculture, and those reasons are due to the inability of farmers to earn a substantial income, due to the heavy costs they must incur as a result of the high price of agricultural inputs. Multi Nationals and Globalization have played a role in South Asian farmers being driven into debt and thus out of agriculture work. Perhaps what needs to be studied is how can agriculture be made productive so that farmers can continue to earn a steady income and still compete in the market. While it is important to look at efficiency in agriculture productivity, we must also look at how we protect our food soveriegnty and diversity. With GM seeds coming into the market, what we are seeing is the nutrition levels of families declining as they no longer receive a staple diet that used to consist of grains, millets etc. Thus, we need to change our outlook on how we view Agriculture. In terms of the second question, what I have seen is that rural producers do not have access to larger markets or the resources to compete in larger markets. The lack of good transportation facilities and access to quality materials are also factors that means firms remain small or informal. As a result rural producers must rely on middlemen to sell their products. Thus the profits are earned mainly by these middlemen, and not by the producers themselves. One method of ensuring that products can compete is to look at methods of creating cooperatives among local producres, whereby they are able to provide a steady supply of goods to larger urban markets. One of the key factors that can help rural producers break out of the informal sector is also education. Educating producers on obtaining credit facilities, branding, packaging, marketing and maintaining quality standards can all help towards enabling these producers to become more competitive. If you look at women who do household based production, one of the factors that prevent them from expanding their business is often the lack of mobility, and the fact that the division of labour between women and men mean that women do not have the time required to focus completely on their business, in order to make it competitive in a larger market. For women, the fact that they are burdened with other responsibilities means that their livelihoods will remain informal. In a globalized world, where often cheap imports enter a market, local products find it difficult to compete. Global products have the resources and capabilities to advertise and have the advantage of economies of scale, while local producers do not have the resources required to compete with these global products.