Digitalisation in agriculture aimed at handing over sector to big corporates

Corporate houses have already changed the entire agricultural process from the time of planting of the seeds to transporting it to the market

Getty Images (Representative)
Getty Images (Representative)

Ravula Venkaiah

The Narendra Modi government recently signed an MoU and announced its intention to introduce a policy called digitalisation in the agriculture sector. What are the benefits of it? What are the losses? Discussions are going on.

Recently, a discussion forum was held in Delhi under the auspices of some voluntary organizations on November 21-22, 2022. More than 60 people from various farmers’ associations participated in it and expressed their views.

More than 60 percent of people in India depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Scientists say that there are more than 15 crore agricultural families.

While introducing major technologies like digitalisation in agrarian sector, farmers connected with the field were not even considered nor contacted for dialogue. They did not even inform this form of grassroots change to those who were depending on the sector for survival. The farmers’ representative associations were also kept at bay.

Agriculture is under the purview of the state government. At least those concerned states could have been taken into confidence.

The Central government is intensifying its efforts to hand over the agriculture sector to private corporate forces by digitalising it. In the past, the Modi government had introduced three ‘black laws’ in the agrarian sector, and as a result of large-scale agitation by farmers and farmers’ associations for more than a year, it was forced to withdraw them.

Now, initiatives are taken again to bring those laws in another form by introducing this digitalisation system to hand over agriculture to corporate forces.

Corporate houses have already changed the entire agricultural process from the time of planting of the seeds to transporting it to the market. This digitalisation process is an attempt to present it to the private companies.

More than 10 reputed conglomerates in India are involved as partners with these companies. For example, Amazon, owned by Walmart, accounts for over 90 percent of the seed sector’s cottonseeds transactions. There are more such agrarian products handled and represented by Mann Cent, as well as Bayer companies.

A majority of the marketing of agricultural products are in the fields of tobacco and few others.

There are also ITC like companies that are continuing as partners. There is also Patanjali run by Baba Ramdev, who plays a major role in marketing and sales of the other products as well, involved with this deal.

It is said that Microsoft Company is also involved. Companies like Uber and Ola that have already entered the transport sector are operating in all sectors beginning from buses to autos.

Also, there is the beginning of a practice that is spreading fast from currency notes to the form of digital money, from plane, train and bus tickets to retail businesses like coffee and tea shops. Internet services continue from near the car used by humans to the freezer.

In eight years of the Modi government, everything has been privatised. In the name of the monetisation pipeline, government assets and industries were sold cheaply. All-out efforts have started to collect 1.6 crore rupees in the financial year 2022-23. The process of sale of all assets related to power department, sports department, exchange department and coal mines has been accelerated.

The process of digitilisation of land records, survey records, has already started in the agriculture sector. The work of spreading fertilisers, seeds and pesticides through the drone system has started. This approach is intensified at the same rate as human labour is devalued and intellectualisation is increasingly emphasized.

70 to 80 percent of people in the agricultural sector are illiterate. This means that the main intention of this policy is to forcefully remove these small farmers from agriculture and transfer all the land to the corporate powers and then turn the farmers into labourers. All farmers should oppose this.

If at all it has to be introduced, it should be done not in the private sector but in the public sector with the participation of farmers and with the cooperation of various states. Farmers and farmer associations have to deliberate on the issue as a prime theme.

(IPA Service)

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