What is good governance?

To understand what is good governance, we have have to first experience the benefits of the same.


Example: You are a small farmer

The sowing season is coming and farmers are preparing their fields. In the market there are numerous varieties of seeds available each one of them claiming to be the best and guaranteed to increase productivity.

The farmer has very little knowledge about different seed types and the finer details.  Earlier governments used to be the sole player but is no longer so. He often ends up buying seeds meant for irrigation land for his rainfed land. As a result his crop fails. The high input costs of the seeds mean that he ends up in severe debt.

The government cannot abdicate its responsibility in farming. It has to ensure that farmers receive the correct information and inputs at the right time. When the local government machinery is not able to provide the seeds and information then it is bad governance.


The farmer is able to get the correct information based on his farms and capacity.

To ensure that private players, with sole motive of profit maximisation doe not end up putting farmers in debt.

While farming is an individual activity, collective resilience and sustainability depend on the
way key resources for agriculture are managed across the agro-ecosystem. These resources
include both direct production requirements such as water, land, seed, fertilizer, know-how,
equipment and credit, and indirect requirements such as storage infrastructure, transport and
marketing. Technical approaches to sustainable intensification of crop production now
increasingly stress the need for a holistic approach, embracing conservation agriculture,
integrated pest management and integrated plant nutrient management, in conjunction with
efforts to improve storage, marketing and distribution. Just as technical approaches need to
converge and support each other, the system of governance for sustainable intensification will
need to be holistic to address the complex 21st century issues in agriculture.
Society has evolved rule systems to govern access to these resources and control their quality.
Water may be allocated or distributed through community-managed irrigation systems or
schemes. Land is allocated according to local land tenure customs and practice. Seeds and other
inputs are usually required to meet benchmarks for quality. New technologies introduced in
agro-ecosystems are usually subject to prior scrutiny to minimize risks. Farmers may have access
to shared community resources such as equipment or storage facilities. Rules may govern local
water quality levels where use of agricultural inputs can cause contamination of ground water.
These rules enshrined in laws, customs or practices can be described as a whole as the general
system of agricultural “governance”.
In the past, the system of governance of agriculture in developing countries tended to consist of a
patchwork of regulations and schemes. The result was often unsatisfactory with conflicting
objectives, contradictions and overlapping policies leading to confusion. On the other hand, as
science and technology have developed, new areas of governance have emerged, for instance for
GM crops, hybrid seeds and adaptation to climate change. However, it is widely believed that
agricultural governance, as substantially intended for the benefit of farmers, is a comparatively
recent phenomenon and still evolving.
The rapid spread of a market-led paradigm of economic development since the 1980s has placed
the issue of governance at centre stage in poverty reduction in developing countries. Agricultural
policies and strategies have tended to emphasize the need for pro-poor development and
improved sectoral governance.

Governance was also critical for setting benchmarks and enforcing quality standards of inputs
such as seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, he stated


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