India is faced with its worst agrarian crisis. It isn't the spate of farmer's suicides, on an upswing and still counting that made the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to admit the magnitude of agrarian crisis that prevails. The unforeseen slump in agriculture growth rate – slipping between 1 to 2 per cent – in turn affected the industrial growth rate, which restricted quantum jumps in the national economy made the government to sit back and take notice.

In what appears to be a desperate move to prop up agriculture growth, the Prime Minister has called for reversing the declining trend in investment in agriculture; and among the measures mentioned stepping up credit flow to farmers; talked of creating a 'single market' for agricultural produce and to provide the latest technology to farmers.

Unless the cropping pattern is rectified no measures to protect and preserve water resources will be effective. There is no justification for Rajasthan to grow sugarcane.

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Strikingly similar to the faulty Vision 2020 that the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Chandrababu Naidu, had unsuccessfully applied, and was therefore routed out in the last state elections, Prime Minister's approach may also end up compounding the already existing crisis in farming.

Despite the government's projections the fact remains majority of farmers are keen to abandon agriculture and move into the urban centres looking for menial jobs. Agricultural lands have become unproductive. There is therefore a desperate need to revitalise agriculture, restore the natural resource base and provide for sustainable livelihoods. Any development alternative to ensure long-term food security has to be linked to sustainable agriculture.

Let me therefore draw the outline of the sustainable farming systems that the country needs to focus on. This is the overall framework under which location-specific alterations and adaptations need to be tried. What is needed is a fresh approach that takes the ground realities into consideration before embarking upon any policy imperatives. I am presenting a collection of five of the important rational decisions, which would certainly initiate the revival of Indian agriculture:

Sustainable farming

Indian agriculture faces an unprecedented crisis in sustainability. Foodgrain productivity in the food bowl, comprising Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh, is on the decline. The green revolution areas are encountering serious bottlenecks to growth and productivity. The dryland areas (comprising nearly 70 per cent of the cultivable lands) continue to drown in misery and apathy. Excessive mining of soil nutrients and groundwater have already brought in soil sickness. Indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides has done serious harm to environment, human health and ecology.

There is therefore a need to immediately:

a) Draw a balance sheet of the collapse of Green Revolution. We need to know what went wrong with agriculture, so that we don't repeat the same mistakes. A post mortem of Green Revolution is absolutely necessary.

b) Investments and increased outlays for agricultural research that is based on external chemical inputs like fertiliser and pesticides need to be phased out. Instead, financial allocation should be made for reviving low-input agriculture, which uses cheap and locally available technology and in turn improves production, reduces cost of production and protects environment.

Pesticides were promoted blindly on rice. The International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines now says that pesticides on rice were a waste of time and effort in Asia.