The beauty of farm development lies in the scarcity of farm resources deployed; a farm land in Switzerland will deploy at best one or two resources, a tractor and a host of outsourced contracts for dealing with inbound and outbound logistics right up to where the sale will happen.
In contrast most developing farm lands the world over will have many hands and therefore many mouths to feed from whatever the farm surplus gets generated; sometimes in absence of any surplus the equity left in the reserves get fast depleted.
The equity of farmland is not entrenched in the numbers of skilled labor deployed or in the nutrients that the soil has inherited or in the weather that transfers the best blend of inputs needed to produce the crops ideally suited by the sum total of conditions.
The farm equity is built on the denominator which must be as slim as possible and that marks the productivity of farm produce. The equity or the surplus precludes the lightening of farm resources deployed.
Recently I was in Coonoor, the beautiful tourist spot cum tea plantation paradise and I was happy to see the coordination in fine balance, between those deployed in farm produce (in this case tea) and those who serve the broader economy of tourism around. No wonder the town is built on a fine balance of inter-dependence that both the economies of farm production and tourism provide to the stakeholders in Coonoor.
The lesson here is simple, you can never win the farm development gap in India if all the effort is diverted to farm produce alone, you must have a way to alternately employ large hordes of people into things which is completely disconnected with the farm land.
The question of diversification is so fundamental that it belies everything else that the development effort is directed at.
The question of development gap is simple, India engages 50% of its populace in agriculture to feed its people, the same in U.S. or Switzerland needs 2% and even recent examples like China has shown that mobility has been achieved by simply drawing people away from farmland, not devising ways of making farm attachment more efficient.
But this mobility of 50% to 2% would need massive urbanisation programs. India has cities bursting in their seams, so it would entail making of hundreds of them; housing will need an expansion that would need several times the output of cement and steel, which in turn would need logistics to be coordinated that would have to move stuff several billion ton kilometers.
Next time we celebrate or not celebrate our GDP growth, we must also see through the lost opportunities that alternate employment could have provided to the lower end of the economy. Growth could come without any change in this layer, but that is where all the attention needs to be spared.
Again, supply will lead the change, if only we have the wherewithal to move stuff and make stuff for these hordes of people who desperately need to join the mobility curve every day.
It seems that the numbers who become mobile equal the numbers who get clawed back into farmland.
This is where we need to win.