I like to bring the following statistics to the kind notice of the commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices.
Price Indices of Coconut and some of its products with base year 1983
|YEAR||Coconut (WOH)||Price Index||Copra (Mill)||Price Index||Coconut oil||Price Index|
From the above table of price indices it is clear to note that when we take 1983 as the base year, for 1000 nuts WOH the price index for the current year is 338 indicating that the price increase noted on coconut for the current year is 3.38 times the price of their product for 1983. Similarly the price increase noticed on a quintal of milling copra for the current year is 307 indicating that the price increase for copra for the current year is 3.07 times the price of copra for 1983. The price increase noticed on one quintal of coconut oil for current year is 2.98 times the price of coconut oil for 1983.
Now we look with the wage/salary index category of Govt. servants and other workers. From office records one can easily observe that an Assistant in any university of Kerala would draw an initial basic pay of Rs. 675 carrying a DA of Rs. 112 with a total of Rs. 797 (excluding other allowances such as HRA, CCA which vary from place to place) during 1983 where as initial starting basic pay for the same post is Rs. 7990 carrying a DA of Rs. 3036 with a total of Rs. 11,026 during 2008. Thus the salary index of the salary of an Assistant who will enter in service during 2008 is 1383. Thus the salary increase noticed on the initial appointment as Assistant in an University during 2008 is 13.83 times that of 1983. From the diary records one could observe that the wage given to an agricultural labourer during 1983 would be Rs. 20 where as the wage given today is Rs. 250 which is around 12.5 tines the wage of 1983.
Look on the plight of the poor coconut farmers whose coconut products have shown a price growth of about 3 times over a period of 25 years whereas those of Govt. servants and other labourers attained a growth of 12.5 to 13.8 times. At this rate the economic condition of farmers who depend on coconut farms will only push them to suicidal point. The Govt. is appeasing very much its employees by giving revised salaries, DA’s and reducing the tax burden year after year.The agricultural and other labourers also by their trade union power get a reasonable growth in their wages., while the poor coconut farmers toil in the soil, shed their sweat and blood without getting reasonable price for their products.
What is the role of Govt. in the Country? It is sharing the major portion of its resorces among its functionaries? In the Gross State Domestic product of Kerala (at constant prices) data provided in ‘Statistics of planning 2005’ published by the department of Economics and Statistics, Govt. of Kerala the contribution from agricultural sector over the years 1998-99 to 2003-04 are as given below.
|GSDP Rs. in lakhs (Agriculture)||721098||733584||576701||562236||569124||547472|
The coconut farmers are really the most troubled lot in the farming sector. Their crop being a crop meant for 50 or more number of years, they cannot switch over easily to other crops. they cannot nurture their farms because of insufficient return. So the farm remain more and more unproductive contributing much of lower GDP. As rightly pointed out by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, the MSP should be atleast 50% more than the weighted average cost of production so that the net take home income of farmers will be comparable to some extent of those in civil servants and other labourers. Hence I strongly feel that MSP for milling copra should be rised to a more reasonable level than Rs. 4900/qtl so as to make a kick start of retarded farm sector of Kerala.
P. Yageen Thomas
Professor & head
Dept. of Statistics
University of Kerala