India’s growing farm crisis
October 8, 2018 -- Record high fuel prices and the surging costs of fertilisers are hitting India’s 263 million farmers and other agriculture workers, who together make up about half of India’s 1.3 billion people.
The hike in import costs could not have come at worse time for farmers, already hit by lower crop prices following abundant harvests.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also faces an election next year and needs the support of India’s farmers who voted overwhelmingly for him in 2014. A fall in rural incomes risks jeopardising their support next year.
Diesel prices have surged 18 per cent while the Indian rupee has fallen by 16.1 per cent, to an all-time low against the dollar, since January.
Meanwhile, the impact of a weak rupee has caused prices of essential fertilisers such as potash and phosphates to surge. Import costs have jumped by more than 11 and 13 per cent respectively since May -- India imports all its potash and 90 per cent of its phosphate needs.
Agriculture accounts for about 16% of India’s $2.6 trillion GDP.