Agrarian · Falling farm income – Crop has failed

Agrarian Distress in India

Problems in the Indian Agriculture Sector

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·      
Productivity Levels are very low- The productivity levels primarily
determine the income of the farmers. Per unit area productivity of
Indian agriculture is much lower than other major crop producing countries.

·      
Inadequate irrigation facility

·      
Fragmentation of land holdings

·      
Lack of crop insurance mechanism to Farmers

·      
More spending on Subsidy

Post Harvest Losses of Farm Produce

·      
Paper put out by the Department of Industrial
Policy and Promotion had quoted data from agriculture ministry to say that
25-30 per cent of fruits and vegetables and 5-7 per cent of food grains in
India are wasted.

Poor performance of agriculture and rising farmer suicides are caused due
to-

·      
Falling farm income – Crop has failed in
multiple regions in last 2 years due to bad monsoon and other regions have very
low productivity

·      
Absence of credit for small marginal and
tenant farmers and rising expenditures on health and social ceremonies have put
farmers on heavy burden of debt.

·      
Poor price discovery – Lack of
commodities futures, fall in price of commodities and lack of government
support has led to high volatility in prices, hurting the farmers

·      
Rising cost of agriculture due to high
prices of seed and rising consumption of fertilizer and pesticides

Farming  becoming unattractive among
Youth: FAO

·      
In Africa, where 60% of the continent’s
population is under 24, the average age of farmers is 60.

·      
Agriculture productivity is already low in these
economies. With only aged population left to work in the sector the situation
will get worse. Direct impact on global food security.

Status of Indian Agriculture

NITI Aayog Report for creating more predictable and Equitable Price Regime

·      
 To
evaluate whether adoption of improved technology, appropriate investment and
rural infrastructure has been aided by MSP.

·      
 To
suggest measures for creating more effective MSP.

Problems noticed in the
implementation of MSP

·      
The procurement centres being far away resulting
into heavy transportation cost.

·      
Non-opening of Procurement centres timely.

·      
Lack of covered storage/godowns facility for
temporary storage of produces.

·      
 Lack of
electronic weighing equipment in some places, delays in payments.

CAG Report Findings on Crop Insurance Schemes

·      
Delayed payments: Delay at the state
level caused obstruction in providing financial aid to farmers.

·      
Low public awareness: It found that only
37 per cent of the farmers were aware of crop insurance schemes.

·      
Grievances redressal systems and monitoring
mechanisms for speedy settlement of farmers’ complaints at the central and
state level were not adequate.

·       Small
farmers not adequately covered

·      
Records missing: Whether the money
reached the beneficiaries cannot be ensured as the database of beneficiaries
was not maintained.

Women  in Agriculture

·      
Women constitute about 65% of all agricultural
workers and about 74% of the rural workforce.

·      
Despite their hard labour in the field, women
are not officially counted as farmers because they do not have a claim to land
under their name in official records.

Impact of Agriculture distress on Women

·      
The way in which agrarian distress impacts women
is still severely under-represented by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)
in its data on farmers’ suicides, which discounts the possibility of suicide
within such category unless the person has title to agricultural land.

·      
Women’s vulnerability with respect to their
position as workers, particularly in rural India and lack of effective control
over agricultural land does not get the emphasis that it should, partly due to
the ways in which official statistics under represent such problems in our
country.

·      
Women’s work in agriculture is also
underestimated indirectly due to the lack of clear differentiation between the
time and space in which domestic work and agricultural (and allied jobs) are
done.

Solutions
to Tackle the problem of Agricultural Distress

·      
 Provide
affordable health insurance and revitalize primary healthcare centres. The
National Rural Health Mission should be extended to suicide hotspot locations
on priority basis.

·      
 Set up
State level Farmers’ Commission with representation of farmers for ensuring
dynamic government response to farmers’ problems.

·      
Restructure microfinance policies to serve as
Livelihood Finance, i.e. credit coupled with support services in the areas of
technology, management and markets.

·       Cover
all crops by crop insurance with the village and not block as the unit for
assessment.

·      
Provide for a Social Security net with provision
for old age support and health insurance.

·      
Promote aquifer recharge and rain water
conservation. Decentralise water use planning and every village should aim at Jal
Swaraj with Gram Sabhas serving as Pani Panchayats.

·      
Ensure availability of quality seed and other
inputs at affordable costs and at the right time and place.

·      
Recommend low risk and low cost technologies
which can help to provide maximum income to farmers because they cannot cope
with the shock of crop failure, particularly those associated with high
cost technologies like Bt cotton.

·      
Set up Village Knowledge Centres (VKCs) or Gyan
Chaupals in the farmers’ distress hotspots. These can provide dynamic and
demand driven information on all aspects of agricultural and non-farm livelihoods
and also serve as guidance centres.

 Policy actions taken by the
Government

·      
To improve soil fertility on a sustainable basis
through the soil health card scheme.

·      
To support the organic farming scheme ‘Paramparagat
Krishi Vikas Yojana’

·      
Improved access to irrigation through ‘Pradhanmantri
Gram Sinchai Yojana’, enhanced water efficiency through `Per
Drop More Crop’.

·      
Continued support to MGNREGA.

·      
Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC): Under
the Ministry of Agriculture, it provides soft loans up to Rs 50 lakhs
for setting up small tissue culture labs by cooperative societies formed by
small scale farmers.

·      
State Level Incentives: The
states of Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are giving
financial assistance for setting up tissue culture units under the new agro-industrial
policy. Karnataka gives capital subsidy of 20 per cent on investments.

·      
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana,

·      
Paramparagat Krishi Yojana,

·      
BGREI

·      
RKVY

·      
Soil Health Card Scheme

·      
DD Kisan

·      
Pradhanmantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM)

·      
Launched in the year 2014-15 under National
Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology.

·      
 Launched
with an objective to promote agricultural mechanisation among small and
marginal farmers and in the areas where the level of mechanisation and
availability of power is very low.

·      
Apart from SMAM, farm mechanisation is also
promoted through various other schemes and programmes of the ministry such as RKVY,
NFSM, NHM, NMOOP etc.

Jute-ICARE project

·      
Launched in 2015, by National Jute Board for
better agronomic practices through;

·      
Distribution of quality certified seeds at 50%
subsidy

‘ARYA’ (Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture)

·      
ARYA (Attracting and Retaining Youth in
Agriculture) is an innovative program to check the migration of rural youth and
retain their interest in agriculture through creation of new employment
opportunities.

·      
This programme is being implemented by the
Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Capacity Building

·      
The government has initiated several schemes to
impart skills to workers both in agriculture related activities and other
fields.

·      
Project-LIFE under MGNREGA was mooted by the
government to develop skills among the workers and their families.

Financial Streamlining

·      
The DBT platform, combined with the
biometric-based UID program Aadhaar, effectively financial leakages through
middlemen and also eliminates the possibility of duplicity in records.

Saur Sujala Yojana  

·      
Government provide solar powered irrigation
pumps of 3HP and 5HP capacity at subsidized rates

·      
In  Villages
which do not have electricity as of now. The pumps will be distributed on the
priority basis.

e-Pashuhaat portal launched

·      
To connect farmers and breeders of bovine
animals.

·      
Launched on the occasion of birth anniversary of
the father of India’s White Revolution Verghese Kurien and National Milk Day
(November 26) platform for sell of bovines, including information on semen,
embryos and live animals with all the agencies and stake holders in the
country.

Sunandini Scheme

·      
 A two
year program under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana in which dairy farmer is
entitled for subsidized feed, healthcare and insurance coverage for two female
calves.

Loan Waiver Is Not The Solution

Necessity of Loan Waiver

·      
Necessary evil: The agriculture is facing vagaries of
monsoon therefore loan waiver is a necessary evil for farmers to keep them
motivated towards agriculture.

·      
Agriculture not remunerative: agriculture has not been
remunerative due to small landholdings.

·      
 Debt overhang problem: waiver.

·      
 Farmer’s suicide

Negatives Of Loan Waiver

·      
Problem of identification and disbursement:

·      
Rise in NPA

·      
FRBM target: The loan waiver leads to states violating FRBM
targets and make them fiscally irresponsible.

·      
Moral Hazard: Farm loan wavier leads to moral hazard in the the
waiver may not pay their current loans.

Doubling the Farmer Income by 2022

NATIONAL AGRICULTURE MARKET

·      
NAM is a “virtual” market but it has a physical
market (mandi) at the back end.

Need of NAM

·      
To Create a national market

·      
To ensure better prices to farmers

·      
To improve supply chain

·      
Reduce wastages

Advanatges of NAM

·      
Increase operational efficiency and transparency
in the mandi operations

·      
Enhance market access and more options for
farmers through warehouse based sales

·      
Larger national market for secondary trading for
the local trader in the mandi

·      
Reduction in intermediation costs for bulk
buyers, processors, exporters etc.

·      
Will lead to common procedures for issue of
licenses, levy of fee and movement of produce

·      
In 5-7 years, it will result into higher returns
for farmers, lower transaction costs to buyers and stable prices and
availability to consumers

·      
 It will
also help in emergence of value chains by promoting scientific storage and
movement of agricultural goods

 ‘Model law’ on contract farming

·      
This would enable farmers to legally enter into
long-term production and marketing arrangements with processors, retail chains
and other big buyers.

Hike in the corpus of the long-term irrigation fund (under NABARD)

·      
By another Rs 20,000 crore, taking the total
fund size to Rs 40,000 crore.

 

A dairy processing and infrastructure development
fund at NABARD

·      
 With a
corpus of Rs 8,000 crore over three years.

Horticulture

·      
 Mission
for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) scheme which provides better
planting materials, improved seed and protected cultivation, high-density
plantation, rejuvenation, and precision farming.

White Revolution  

·      
Conserving indigenous breeds under Rashtriya
Gokul Mission, improving genetic makeup, increasing milk production,
establishing Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund, generating
self-employment opportunities through Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme
.

Beekeeping

·      
Promoted through training large number of
farmers/beekeepers, registering bee keepers and honey
societies/companies/firms, establishing Integrated Bee Keeping Development
Centres (IBDC).

Mega Food Park

·      
To boost the Food Processing Sector by
facilitating creation of modern infrastructure for food processing with strong
forward and backward linkages through a cluster based approach.

·      
 Mechanism to link agricultural production to
the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers

ISOPOM (Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize)

·      
Under this, four schemes related to oilseeds,
pulses, oil palm and maize have been merged into one Centrally Sponsored
ISOPOM.

·      
Financial assistance is provided to farmers for
purchase of breeder seed, production of foundation seed, production and
distribution of certified seed etc.

Establishment of Land Bank

·      
Preventing distress sales of land by
farmers as farmer can sell their land to government whenever they required
and there will also be no forcible land acquisition.

Challenges In Doubling The Income

·      
Central government cannot reform State Mandis  because agriculture is in state list. Many
state APMC Act do not follow the Model APMC act of the union government

·      
?Agriculture will have to grow at 12 or 14% to
realise such rise in earnings. The growth rates stand around 3% during last
decade.

 

Technological  Initiatives

Biotech-KISAN (Krishi Innovation Science Application Network)

·      
Biotech-KISAN is a Farmer centric scheme
launched by of the Department of Biotechnology, where scientists will work in
sync with farmers to understand problems and find solutions.

Cattle Genomics

·      
Through this programme, the government aims to
improve the genetic health of the cattle population through genomic selection.

·      
 Genomic
selection will ensure high-yielding, disease-resistant, resilient livestock.

Farmers’ portal

·       One
stop shop for
farmers to access information on agriculture.

mKisan portal

·       Disseminating information
via SMSes
in local language + topical & seasonal advisories

Kisan call center

Fertilizer Quality Control System Portal

Kisan Vigyan Kendra

 

Reforms in Indian Agriculture

·      
Indian agriculture has the potential to grow
with 5% per annum against present range of 3.6-4% per annum.

·      
Farmer suicide rate has increased in last 2
years,2000 suicides in Telangana alone.

Reforms which need to be taken

·      
 Irrigation
– Irrigation is the best insurance against crop failure.

·      
 Encourage
crop diversification. This will act as natural insurance against failure on
one crop

·      
 Reform
in APMC Act – This will remove corruption and middle men and ensure better
prices for farmer’s produce

·      
 Land
reforms to increase average land farm size to boost mechanization.

·      
 Efficient
delivery of crop insurance against bad weather, disaster and post-harvest
losses.

·      
 Reform
in agricultural land lease – This will allow tenant farmers to avail
insurance and credit.

·      
 Provide
alternative sources of livelihood to needy farm households.

·      
 Ensuring
availability of good quality of seed at reasonable price

Way Forward

·      
Agriculture has to be linked to industry in such
a way that there are no middlemen and the profits are shared between the
farmers and the end-users. Till this becomes a reality, the farmers will be
forced to end their lives with a bearing upon their potential exit from
farming.

·      
Public and Private Sector Collaboration: PPP
model can be very helpful in promoting new technologies in horticulture. The
public institutions have the expertise while the private sector units have the
commercial temper, money and mind set to market viable products. Together, they
can ensure speedy delivery of technology.

·      
The recommendations of National Commission on
Farmers (to provide the minimum price of the total cost of production plus 50%)
must be implemented now.

·      
Availability of agriculture credit to women.
Nearly 50% of farmers are women, who often do not benefit from credit policies
as they do not have land titles in their name. Unless land titling recognises female
ownership of land for cultivation, half of India’s farmers cannot claim
institutional credit.

·      
Drought-proofing farming: Tackling climate
change and its potential impact requires a budget to safeguard farmers. Given
the drought and errant rainfall affecting farmers, the government’s step to
create five lakh more farm ponds that will work as a drought-proofing measure
in gram panchayats is welcome, but everything depends on how well the schemes
are executed on the ground.

·      
Changes in the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Bima Yojana
so that farmers can recover all losses during crop damage.

·      
Focus upon high value horticulture and dairy
sector as there is limit to augmenting farmers income through cereals.
Investment in food processing industry, cold storage, warehousing etc is
necessary in doubling the farmers income.

To improve Competitiveness of farmers-

1. Promotion of commodity-based farmers’
organisations such as Small Cotton Farmers’

2. Improvement in implementation of Minimum Support Price (MSP).

3. MSP
should be at least 50% more than the weighted average cost of production.

Role that upcoming startups can play in next green revolution:

·      
There is growing investor and corporate
confidence in nascent sector, known as farming-as-a-service, or FaaS.

·      
FaaS seeks to provide affordable solutions to
technical and mechanized farming. It makes the fixed costs variable for
farmers, thus making it more affordable for a majority of small farmers.

·      
Information sharing through SMS, phone calls
(interactive voice response systems), e-mail or mobile apps. The services
include alerts on weather, input and output market prices, real-time crop
monitoring.

Enhancing Farmers’ Income through Floriculture:

·      
India is enriched with diverse agro-climatic
conditions such as fertile land, suitable climate, abundant water supply, low
labour cost, availability of skilled manpower and the recent investment culture
of Indian corporate etc., which are the strengths of Indian floriculture and
are quite beneficial for growing a variety of flower plants throughout the
year.

·      
Apart from these, floriculture activity has also
evolved as a viable and profitable alternative for income generation and empowerment,
helping in sustaining livelihood of farmers in changing climate by using every inch
of their land for raising the flower and foliage crops.

MUSHROOM CULTIVATION

·      
Mushroom production is indoor activity using
vertical space. Hence, does not compete with agricultural land and thus well
suited to small farmers & landless labourers.

·      
Many of its agricultural wastes can be utilised
to produce quality food and organic manure for field crops.