Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Irrigation : A problem which needs to be solved now

More than 60 percent of the country's farmland depends on rain and groundwater.This combined with productivity of the farmland being at small percentage of the world's top producers ensures that the income from farming remains low.

An Indian farmer produces 3.3 tonnes of rice per hectare compared to a farmer in Australia who produces more than 10 tonnes per hectare. Imagine if the same productivity is reached by the Indian farmer and he is able to tap international markets. The income of that farmer is probably going to go up by 3 to 5 times. It is the same thing for wheat, mangoes or even eggs. If the productivity in all of these reached the top levels in the world, one can imagine what changes it would bring to the rural lifestyle.

It is not that the top countries in these various areas are unduly blessed with environmental bounty such as highly fertile land or abundant rainfall. Australia the topper in rice productivity is mainly a dry country, which is ironical considering that rice requires a lot of water to grow. Netherlands the topper in wheat productivity has lot of reclaimed land from the sea. Israel the topper in Okra and cotton productivity is mainly in a very dry area.

With Arable land in India only second to United States in hectares, there really is a big task here. But what can be done? If the Indian government can help the farmer as to which crop is most suitable for that farmers land and also setup clear directions as to how the productivity can be maximized, that would definitely help. That should not as difficult as clearly there are Panchayats in every village and this data can be easily found out.

The next thing needs to be that entire country needs to have irrigation which is independent of vagaries of monsoon. It is again a tough task but not impossible. It can easily be time bound project.

Rain water harvesting is mandatory in Tamil Nadu. It could be made mandatory all over the country, so that ground water is constantly replenished.

Finally the international market should be opened to the farmers without middlemen. This seems to be a problem even for the domestic markets. But farmer education would be required here.

Subsidy distortion is a problem which is not going to go away soon nationally or internationally, but again if that is set as a long term goal, it would help the finances of both the governments and individual farmers. It is simple, subsidies influence behavior, and farmer as a result may make a choice which is not the most beneficial to him.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why India should take $300 Billion from China for infrastructure and use their expertise

There have been several news articles that China has offered India $300 Billion investment to upgrade its infrastructure. If true, this would really be good news. Because not only does China know infrastructure, the infrastructure sector in India is suffering for lack of the right kind of investments. The debt available to most Indian infrastructure companies is not of long enough gestation to really make the investment projects in infrastructure projects attractive. It has often been said that never change a winning game and always change a losing game. This quote is attributed to Bill Tilden, but is true in all aspects, apart from sports. China is winning the infrastructure game, and India is definitely loosing it. China has high speed rail, and we have really not added a whole lot to our rail network since independence. They have high capacity ports and we have a long way to go there.

The folks who say that this is a bad idea citing security concerns are not completely out in the left field. But security concerns can be taken into considerations and appropriate measures can be taken to protect our security. It is just like FDI in  defense. Having a non thought out agenda, prevents us from getting the state of the art technology and makes us an aspiring superpower who is the largest importer of arms. Infrastructure actually helps in defense. The expressways in the United States were actually built for facilitating quick movement of the military ( Yes, United States did not always have these wonderful expressways). So if China were to help us build the expressways, one can be sure that they will help us defend our borders with them better. Indeed even their investment in India will probably help the cause of a stronger relationship.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Build it and they will come.

What is it and who are they? It is the roads and infrastructure and they are the affordable housing. The problem is that there is too little land with good title near good infrastructure. So it is a lot of money chasing the few properties who are set up nicely in such zones leading to expensive properties. What needs to happen is a lot of four lane roads need to be built leading outside the congested city. This will create a sprawl. There are many people who are against urban sprawl, but that actually eliminates congestion. Well, all those who need affordable housing will also need affordable transportation, so we have these four lane roads which can be used for public transportation. In addition if certain parts of the city center is made vehicle free ( These would be markets and downtown), the city can be really degongested and it might actually be fun to go downtown. The urban sprawl can also be better planned with residential, commercial and parking at better rates and with less congestion and less pollution.
But this needs a visionary politician regulator. Nobody wants to lay roads , water,sewer and electric lines which are not going anywhere.