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Kurukshetra Summary Oct 2019

 

Current Affairs UPSC CSE

Kurukshetra Summary Oct 2019

Towards Doubling Farmers’ Income

 

At present the Government is implementing various schemes and adopting policy measures to synchronize with higher gains for the farmers:

  1. For Higher Production Through Productivity Gains:
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM)-for cereals, pulses, oilseeds, nutria-rich cereals, commercial crops.
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) for high growth rate of horticulture crops.
  • National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP) launched in 2014-15 for increasing production of oilseeds and Oil Palm.

 

  1. For Reduction In Cost of Cultivation:
  • Soil Health Card (SHC) to ensure judicious and optimal use of fertilizer application thus saving the input cost for farmers.
  • Neem Coated Urea (NCU) is being promoted to regulate use of urea, enhance availability of nitrogen to the crop and reduce cost of superfluous fertilizer application.
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) micro irrigation component (1.2 million ha/yr target) with the motto of ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’ for providing end-to-end solutions in irrigation supply chain, comprising water sources, distribution network and farm level application.

 

  1. For Providing Assistance To Small and Marginal Farmers
  • Government of India has launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM KISAN) scheme with an aim to provide assistance to small and marginal farmer families with an amount of Rs. 6000/- per year.
    • The scheme initially covered only small and marginal farmer families with land holding up to 2 hectares as beneficiaries, subject to certain exclusion criteria for higher income status but now the Union Government has extended the scheme to all farmer families irrespective of land holding size, subject to applicable exclusions.
    • State Government and UT Administration identify the farmer families who are eligible for support as the scheme guidelines. The fund will be directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
    • Till date, PM KISAN has over 6.37 crore beneficiaries and Rs. 20,520 crores have been transferred as direct benefit to farmer families.
  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana (PM-KMY) has been launched which provides:
    • A payment of a minimum pension of Rs. 3000/- per month to eligible small and marginal farmers on attaining the age of 60 years.
    • It is a voluntary and contributory pension scheme, with entry age of 18 to 40 years.
    • The monthly contribution by farmers ranges between Rs. 55 to 200 depending on their age.
    •  Central Government will contribute an equal amount in this contributory pension scheme.

 

  1. To Ensure Remunerative Returns:
  • National Agriculture Market Scheme (e-NAM) is an innovative market process to revolutionize agri-markets by ensuring real-time better price discovery, bringing in transparency and competition to enable farmers to get improved remuneration for their produce, moving towards ‘One Nation One Market’.
  • Farmer Producer Organization (FPOs) have been on-boarded on e-NAM portal and they have started uploading their produce for trading from their premise.
  • The Model Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Promotion & Facilitation Act, 2017 has been released on 24th April, 2017 for its adoption by States/UTs, to promote alternative competitive marketing channels for better pricing for farmers and to encourage private investment in developing efficient marketing infrastructure and value chain. The provisions under the Act include setting up of private markets, direct marketing, farmer-consumer markets, special commodity markets and declaring warehouses/silos/cold storages or such structures as market sub yards.\
  • Existing 22,000 rural haats to be developed and upgraded into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs). These GrAMs, electronically linked to e-NAM portal and exempted from regulations of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) will provide farmers, the facility to make direct sale to consumers and bulk purchasers.
  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) is notified by the Government for certain crops periodically. Giving a major boost for the farmers’ income, the Government has recently approved the increase in the MSP for all Kharif crops for 2019-20 season.
  • Procurement of oilseeds, pulses and cotton are undertaken by central agencies at MSP under Price Support Scheme (PSS) at the request of the State Government concerned.
  • Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for procurement of agriculture & horticulture products, which are perishable in nature and are not covered under PSS.

 

  1. For Risk Management and Sustainable Practices
  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) & Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RMCIS) provides insurance cover at all stages of the crop cycle including post-harvest risks in specified instances and available to the farmers at very low rates of premium.
  • Government provides total interest subvention up to 5 per cent (inclusive of 3 per cent prompt repayment incentive) on short-term crop loans up to Rs. 3.00lakh. Thus, loan is available to farmers at a reduced rate of 4 per cent per annum on prompt repayment.
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PMVY) is being implemented with a view to promote organic farming in the country. This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realize premium prices.
  • Mission Organic Farming in North-East-MoVCD (NE) for realizing the potential of organic farming in the North Eastern Region of the country.

 

  1. Allied Activities:
  • ‘Har Medh Par Ped’ launched during 2016-17 to encourage tree plantation on farm land along with crops/cropping system. Implementation of the Scheme has been started in the states were liberalized transit regulations for transport of timber have been notified. Agro forestry will not only help in increasing soil organic carbon but also in creating additional source of income to farmers.
  • National Bamboo Mission has been announced in the Union Budget 2018-19 for value chain based holistic development of this sector as a supplement to farm income.
  • Bee-Keeping has been promoted under Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) to increase the productivity of crops through pollination, and increase the honey production as additional income to the farmers.
  • For dairy development, there are three important schemes: National Dairy Plan-1 (NDP-1), National Dairy Development Program (NPDD) and Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme.
  • Foreseeing high potential in fisheries sector, a Blue Revolution with multi dimensional activities mainly focusing on fisheries production, both inland and marine is being implemented.
  • Rashtriya Gokul Mission launched in December 2014 for gene pool of indigenous cattle and buffaloes.
  • National Livestock Mission launched in 2014-15 to ensure intensive development of livestock especially small livestock (sheep/goat, poultry, etc.) along with adequate availability of quality feed and fodder.

 

Initiatives In Agriculture Sector

Keeping in view, the importance of agriculture in socio-economic fabric of India, the Government has given special emphasis and attention to this sector.

Key Challenges Facing the Indian Agriculture Sector

  • Decreasing size of agricultural land holdings
  • Poor transport infrastructure
  • Poor storage facilities
  • Lack of use of modern technology
  • Lack of proper irrigation facilities
  • Inadequate access to irrigation which result in over dependence on monsoons
  • Loss of soil fertility
  • Inadequate access to agricultural credit
  • Lack of marketing support

 

Government Schemes for Enhancing The Socio-Economic Status of Agriculture

  • Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN): PM-KISAN is a Central Sector scheme launched on 01.12.2018 with full funding from Government of India. Under this scheme, an amount of 6000/- under three equal installments is provided to farmer families. The amount is being transferred to the beneficiaries directly in their bank accounts. However, farmers who do not own land are not eligible for applying through this scheme. The scheme was initially launched to augment he income of small and marginal farmers having cultivable land holding up to 2hectares. However, in its second phase, the scheme has been expanded, by bringing all land holding farmer families under its purview. This scheme has been extremely beneficial for small farmers. The amount given to the farmers serves as a source of investment for the farmers and also as a buffer from any unforeseen incident.

 

  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY): Earlier programme such as Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Scheme, Har Khet ko Paani, Per Drop More Crop and Watershed Development have been brought under one umbrella scheme, which is Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana. The major objectives of PMKSY are to increase cultivable area under irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency by reducing wastage of water, enhance and encourage the use of precision irrigation and promote various water conservation practices to conserve water.

 

  • Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): The scheme was launched in 2016 with the aim to protect farmers from any financial loss due to natural calamities. In this scheme, farmers have to pay an annual premium of 2 per cent for Kharif crop, 5 per cent for Rabi and oilseed crops and 5 per cent for commercial/horticulture crops. The rest of the premium amount is being borne equally by Central and respective State/UT Governments. The scheme also has a very robust claim settlement procedure. Owing to nature of Indian agriculture, which is predominantly monsoon dependent, this scheme has been very well received by the agricultural community.

 

  • Interest Subvention Scheme of Ministry of Agriculture: The Government has introduced an interest subvention scheme for short term crop loans up to Rs.3 Lakhs at a reduced interest rate of 7 per cent p.a. This scheme provides interest subvention of 2 per cent per annum to Banks on the use of their own resources. Additional 3 per cent incentive is also given to the farmers for prompt repayment of the loan, resulting in reduction of the effective rate of interest to 4 per cent. Under this scheme, the interest subvention (2 per cent) on crop loan continues to be available to banks for the first year on the restructured amount, to provide temporary relief to the farmers.

 

  • Kisan Credit Card: To encourage digital payments and also to provide adequate credit facility for purchasing necessary inputs for agricultural and other requirements, Kisan Credit Card scheme was launched. This Scheme has been further simplified and converted into ATM enabled RuPay debit card.

 

  • Soil Health Card: Fertility of soil is essential for high yield and productivity. To ensure crop fertility, soil health card has been introduced which would evaluate the fertility of soil across the country with respect to several parameters. The farmers are fully aware of the conditions of the soil they are working on from the soil health card and hence to get the best yields out of it, they can use fertilizers at the recommended dose. This scheme has dual benefit. One, yields are higher due to efficient use of ingredients and secondly, the use of fertilizer can also be restricted through this process.

 

  • e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM): Marketing of agriculture produce has always been one of the biggest challenges owing to its perishable nature. To facilitate better marketing opportunities and expose the farmers to greater number of markets, e-NAM has been launched in 2016. This platform provides wider market access to the farmers and also ensures better price for the produce.

 

  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) was launched in 2014-15 with the primary objective of holistic improvement of agriculture by making it more productive, sustainable, remunerative and climate resilient through the process of implementation of location specific integrated/ composite farming systems; soil and moisture conservation measures; comprehensive soil health management; efficient water management practices and mainstreaming rainfed technologies.
    • Rainfed Area Development Programme is an important component undet National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture and focuses on Integrated Farming System for enhancing productivity and minimizing risks associated with climatic variability by integrating crops with activities like horticulture, livestock, fishery, vermi-organic composing etc. This is particularly beneficial from socio-economic point of view, as it allows farmers to maximize their returns for sustained livelihood and also reduce the impacts associated with natural calamities such as drought, flood etc.

 

Best Farming Techniques in Indian Scenario

Best management practices are essential to increase agricultural productivity and livelihood of farmers, especially marginal and small farmers who make the major chunk of our country. There are many such practices which are able to sustain production and productivity without deteriorating soil health and environment.

 

Conservation Agriculture (CA)

Conservation Agriculture is defined as a sustainable agriculture production system comprising a set of farming practices adapted to the requirements of crops and local conditions of each region, whose farming and soil management techniques protect the soil from erosion and degradation, improve its quality and biodiversity, and contribute to the preservation of the natural resources, water and air, while optimizing yields. This novel resource conservation practice encompasses no or minimum soil disturbance, providing a vegetative soil cover through crop residues or other cover crops, and crop rotations for achieving higher productivity and reducing adverse environmental impacts.
  • Conservation Agriculture (CA) has been viewed as an important strategy against food security challenges posed by climate change, deterioration and depletion of soil health, reducing or stagnating crop yields, land degradation and environmental pollution.
  • Currently, CA has spread to about 8 per cent of world’s crop lands and has also gained some ground in India over last one and half decades.
  • The rice-wheat dominated region is also surrounded by rice/sugarcane-wheat growing regions, western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, where a huge amount of rice and wheat crop residues are generated but due to a low population of dairy/draught animals their disposal is a problem.
  • Thus framers burn the crop residues in-situ to clear the fields and make them ready for the next crop, which cause a very serious atmospheric pollution problem, particularly during November-December months when rice crop residue is burnt in large quantities. Heat and moisture stress are other serious issues of crop production.
  • Thus, conservation agriculture has a good scope in this geographically important region. Any sound research efforts made here can be easily shown/demonstrated or disseminated to a large number of targeted groups or clientele.
  • The CA shouldered by three major pillaring principles, viz., i) minimum soil disturbance; ii) maintenance of permanent soil covers and iii) cropping system diversity, crop rotations, which must be fulfilled to CA objectives.
  • Regarding minimum soil disturbance, there can be no-tillage (NT) or reduced tillage (RT) restrictive to primary tillage only. These three related core principles must be concurrently applied to create synergies.
  • All three principles show lot of promises in alleviating problems like sustaining soil health, conserving natural resources, fulfilling basic needs for cereals, pulses, oilseeds and vegetables, regulating farm income, securing food and nutritional security, reducing the use of external inputs, ensuring environmental safety and creating employment opportunity.

 

Integrated farming systems (IFS)

Under irrigated areas the following IFS models are most suitable to maintain soil fertility and productivity.

  • Intensification and diversification of crop component of farming system
  • Diversification of other components of farming system for higher income.
  • IFS proves it’s tremendous potential for developing farms to their optimum levels by integrating different enterprises in a farming system mode to make agriculture a profitable venture for farmers under different agro-climatic and ecological situations.

 

Precise Nutrient Management and Soil Health Cards

  • The following nutrient management strategies are the most efficient methods to enhance nutrient use efficiency in the field crops.
  • Use of neem coated prilled urea and zinc sulphate-coated urea is beneficial in increasing grain yield, yield attributes, agronomic efficiency and apparent nitrogen recovery of field crops.
  • Production of hundred per cent neem coated urea for improvement in soil health and reduction in the attack of pests and diseased. This leads to decrease in the use of plant protection chemicals, overall increase in crop yield and the reduction in use of urea for non-agricultural purposes.
  • Use of bio fertilizers like the application Phosphate Solubilising Bacteria (PSB) and Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhizae (VAM) along with rock phosphate provide higher productivity of field crops. These bio-fertilizers enhance root length, root volume and root dry weight which results in robust plant growth and higher yield.
  • Application of NPK fertilizers is adjusted to the location and time as per the needs of the crops based on Soil Health Card.
  • Leaf Colour Chart (LCC), Chlorophyll meters and Green Seeker based nitrogen management which ensures that nitrogen is applied at the right time and in right amount as needed by the crop, which reduces wastage of N-fertilizer.
  • Integration with other Integrated Crop Management (ICM) practices such as the use of quality seeds, optimum plant population and efficient water management.
  • Fertigation is the most efficient method of fertilizer application, as it ensures uniform application of water and fertilizers directly to the plant roots as per the crop demand. Since both water and nutrients reach directly to the rooting zone, it has tremendous effect on resource saving.
  • Use of software-based skills like – Nutrient Experts, Crop Manager, Geographical Information System (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) in monitoring and application of nutrients.

 

Efficient Water Management

  • With the mission of ‘per drop more crop’, the Government of India has allocated more funds under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) so that more area can be covered under irrigation by encouraging drip and sprinkler irrigation and development of small water sources like farm ponds.
  • In arid and semi-arid regions, where precipitation is low or infrequent during the dry season, it is necessary to store the maximum amount of rainwater during the wet season for use at a later time, especially for agricultural water supply.
  • Uses of collected water include provision of drinking water, water for livestock and irrigation, diversion of run-off water for infiltration in water-scarce cropping areas, and refill of aquifers (ground water recharge).
  • For this, both in-situ and ex-situ rain water management play crucial roles for increasing and sustaining the crop productivity.
  • In the union budget of 2018, under the ‘Har Khet Ko Pani’ a component of PMKSY scheme, the ground water irrigation scheme was implemented in 96 districts, where less than 30 per cent land is currently getting an assured irrigation facility.
  • The pressurized micro irrigation systems not only save water in food grain production but also contribute to higher productivity, cost effectiveness, higher water productivity and energy use efficiency compared to conventional irrigation methods.

 

Organic Farming

The main objectives of organic farming or paramparagat kheti are the following:

  • To promote the use of natural resources based on integrated, sustainable and climate-friendly farming practices.
  • Reducing the dependence of farmers on external inputs, promotion of soil fertility, natural resource protection and nutrient recycling.
  • Reducing the cost of agricultural production of farmers so that per unit income can be increased.
  • Protecting the environment from hazardous Inorganic chemicals by adopting conventional techniques and farm-friendly technologies, which are cost effective.

 

Crop Diversification

  • Crop Diversification proved to be of paramount importance in mitigating the environmental problems arising on account of monoculture.
  • Inclusion of certain crops in sequential and intercropping systems has been found to reduce some obnoxious weeds to considerable extent, thereby reducing the need of herbicides to great extent in areas where such weeds have assumed alarming problem.
  • Inclusion of legumes in cropping systems has been found to be effective in reducing the nitrate leaching in lower profiles.
  • Legume intercropping in cereals grown with wider row spacing has been found beneficial. There is need to diversify crop cultivation with pulses, oilseeds, fibre crops along with high value crops like fruits, vegetables, flowers, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices, etc as per agro-climatic conditions and resourcefulness of the farmers for efficient management of natural resources and higher productivity and profitability.
  • The adoption of suitable agro-forestry options would certainly enhance the productivity of the farm along with soil health and farm income.

 

Resource Conservation Technologies (RCTs)

  • RCTs refer to those practices that conserve resources and ensure their optimal utilization and enhance input use efficiency.
  • These techniques include:
    • zero or minimum tillage (save fuel)
    • permanent or semi-permanent residue cover
    • new varieties that use nitrogen more efficiently
    • laser land leveling that save irrigation water
    • system of Rice Intensification (SRI)
    • Direct Seeded Rice (DSR)
    • Use of Leaf Colour Chart (LCC) for precision application of nitrogen
    • Brown manuring helpful in suppressing weeds
    • Increasing the yield

 

Integrated Crop Management (ICM)

  • ICM is an alternative system of crop production, which conserves and enhances natural resources while producing quality food on an economically viable and sustainable foundation.
  • It also covers integrated tillage and water management approaches in a holistic manner.
  • It combines the best of traditional methods with appropriate modern technology for balancing the economic production of crops with positive environmental management.
  • ICM is particularly beneficial for small and marginal farmers because it aims to minimize dependence inputs while utilizing on-farm resources.

 

Small-Farm Mechanisation

  • Timeliness of operations has significant role for increased germination and required plant population, good crop stand and sustained productivity of crops.
  • Large areas remain fallow or planted late due to poor access to farm machinery which results in low crop productivity.
  • Therefore, improved access to the farm machinery for sowing, harvesting and other operations is an important adaptation strategy to deal with climatic variability such as late onset of monsoon, mid-season and terminal droughts and contributes to timely sowing of post-rainy crops.
  • For the first time, a systematic attempt has been made under the National Innovations on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) to setup one custom-hiring centre each at the 130 climatically vulnerable villages across the country.

 

Climate Smart Cropping

  • In the changing climate scenario, developing cultivars resistant to climate change may become important adaptive mechanism for maximizing resource-use efficiency.
  • For example, crop varieties those are resistant to lodging (e.g., short rice cultivars), may withstand strong winds during the sensitive stage of crop growth, are viable alternative.
  • Similarly, change of planting dates to minimize the effect of temperature increase and reducing spikelet sterility can be used to enhace yield stability by avoiding the flowering period to coincide with the hottest period.
  • Such adaptive measures like change in crop calendar to reduce the negative effects of increased climatic variability in arid and semi-arid tropics prove advantageous in avoiding extreme weather events (e.g. typhoons and storms) during the growing season.

 

Protected Cultivation

  • It is also known as Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) and is highly productive, encourages water and land conservation as well as protects the environment.
  • The technology involves cultivation of horticultural crops in a controlled environment where in factors like the temperature, humidity, light, soil, water, fertilizers etc. are manipulated to attain the maximum produce as well as allow a regular supply of them even during off-season.
  • The main purpose of protected cultivation is to create a favourable environment for the sustained growth of crop, so as to realize its maximum potential even in adverse climatic conditions.
  • Protected cultivation technology offers several advantages to produce vegetables, flowers, hybrid seeds of high quality with minimum risks that arise due to uncertainty of weather while at the same time ensuring efficient use of resources.
  • This becomes relevant to farmers having small land holdings who would be benefited by a technology, which helps them to produce more crops each year from their land, particularly during off-season when the prices are higher.
  • This kind of crop production system could be adopted as a profitable agro-enterprise, especially in peri-urban areas.
  • At present, there is a large gap between the demand and production of these crops to meet both quantitative and qualitative needs of domestic and export markets which are difficult to be bridged with the traditional cultivation practices.
  • Thus, protected high-value horticultural crops have great potential to enhance income especially of small farmers in India if appropriate technological interventions are made.

 

Empowering Women Farmers

  • With a view of creating a women sensitization module encompassing ‘pro woman initiatives’ consisting of a compendium of special provisons and a set of assistance that women agriculturists can claim under various on-going missions and schemes, the National Gender Resource Centre in Agriculture (NGRCA) was setup in the DAC&FW in 2005-06.
  • The “Women Farmer Friendly Handbook” enumerates the special provisions that empower women in multifarious ways, some of them include –
  • Support for Women Food Security Groups (FSGs) Women farmer groups are recognized under ATMA Cafeteria as a compulsory activity at Rs.0.10 lakh per group/year for attaining food security at the domestic or the household level, by setting up of kitchen garden, promoting off-farm activities with cattle (activities that otherwise evade the GDP computation).
  • Procurement of Agricultural Machinery & Equipments (Subsidy Pattern) Women farmers can avail benefits in tandem with, or over and above the benefits offered to men. For purchasing an essential agricultural equipment, say, tractor (up to 20 PTO HP), women get additional benefits, subsides and cost reduction, for instance, 35 per cent of the subsidy to the total cost, as compared with 25 per cent of cost for men.
  • Representation of Women Farmers It is imperative for women farmers to be included in the decision making bodies – the State, District, Block Farmer Advisory Committees, ATMA governing committees etc.
  • Promoting Women Groups Women’s groups, Cooperative, Self Help Groups (SHGs) to be incorporated by the States for the distribution of Certified Seeds (under the aegis of the National Mission on Oilseeds & Oil Palm (NMOOP).
  • Integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing (ISAM) Women are endowed with subsidies for storage infrastructure that includes a 33.33 per cent subsidy (on capital cost) for women as compared to 25 per cent for men.
  • Agricultural Insurance Safeguarding coverage of women farmers along with a budget allocation and utilization in accordance with the population proportion.

 

Ways To Enhance Agriculture Production

Efficient Management of Resources

  • Sustainable management of soil health is a key area of concern for raising productivity of farms.
  • In 2014-15, the Government launched an ambitious Soil Health Card scheme under which the soil of every operational land holding is being tested for major nutrients and micronutrients.
  • Soil Health Card recommends suitable fertilizer mix as well as micronutrients for use in the specific farm.
  • Since 2015, nearly 15.50 crore soil health cards have been distributed to farmers across the country.
  • Similarly, promotion and use of neem-coated urea also optimized its consumption and decreased cost of fertilizers. As per Government decision, the entire quantity of the domestic and imported urea is now available in neem-coated form only.
  • During 2014-15, the Government launched Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) to ensure assured irrigation to every field, that is ‘har khet ko pani’, and also to realize the vision of ‘more crop per drop’.
  • To extend irrigated area, special effort is being made to operationalize 99 major/medium irrigation projects by December this year.
  • When in action, these projects will put over 76 lakhs hectare land under irrigation giving way to increase crop intensity and productivity. On the front of water use efficiency, micro-irrigation is being promoted in a big way through a dedicated corpus fund of Rs.5,000 crore.
  • Corpus among various technologies, drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation are the most popular ones due to their suitability for a range of cereal and horticultural crops.
  • Besides water use efficiency, micro-irrigation increases productivity in the range of 40 per cent-50 per cent and also adds value to crop quality therby raising its market value.
  • On general, it increases farmers’ income to the tune of 40 per cent. Additionally, micro-irrigation cuts farming cost by saving energy, fertilizers and labour.

 

New Crops-New Ways

  • In view of the impeding danger of climate change, new varieties are being developed with special features, such as drought/flood tolerance, heat tolerance, etc. These varieties secure livelihood of farmers with higher income and sustainability.
  • One such challenge is regular and timely supply of quality seeds to farmers at affordable price.
  • It is estimated that quality seeds contributes to around a quarter of the overall increase in productivity. Efficacy and impact of all other agricultural inputs is largely determined by the quality of seeds used.
  • Hence, a mission mode approach is underway to supply quality seeds to farmers. Breeder, foundation and certified seeds are being produced jointly by private sector.
  • Farmers are important stakeholders in this effort playing double role as producers of seeds, and user of seeds.
  • Recently, the initiative of creating seed hubs in villages has shown remarkable success in providing high quality seeds at farmers’ doorstep.
  • Mechanization and energy management in agriculture is another core sector with excellent potential to increase productivity and farmers’ income.
  • Over the years, Research and Development efforts have resulted in development of many agricultural machines and implements that ensure timely operations at a lower cost with enhanced efficiency and accuracy.
  • But, procurement and use of these machines was financially difficult for farmers.
  • Hence, under different sponsored schemes, Government, distributed over 29 lakhs machines to farmers across India during 2014-19. Nearly 14,000 Custom Hiring Centers have also been established during this period to provide machines to farmers at a reasonable hire charges.
  • Modern machinery, such as laser land levelers, precision seeders and planters, and practices like precision farming, zero tillage, ridge plantation etc. also have potential to raise production and income of farmers substantially.
  • But, these technologies require strong extension system and support for the adoption by farmers.

 

Crop Diversity-Crop Intensity

  • Diversification towards high value crops is important way out for doubling farmers’ income.
  • The aim of crop diversification is to increase crop portfolio so that farmers are not dependent on a single crop to generate their income.
  • Diversification also manages price risk appropriately because all products will not suffer low market prices at the same time.
  • Scope also exists to raise farmers’ income by diversifying towards other allied enterprises like forestry, beekeeping, mushroom cultivation, sericulture etc. Similarly, increasing crop intensity is another area with potential to increase farmers’ income.
  • Recently, the Government has reviewed its commitment for transforming farmers into energy providers. A specific scheme ‘KUSUM’ has been launched this year to support establishment of solar power plants on barren lands or agricultural lands.
  • Promotion of value chains across crops and livestock products will raise farmers’ income by developing direct market linkages with wholesalers, supermarkets or exporters.
  • We need to find ways to integrate small producers into modern value chains, both domestic and export oriented.
  • In this regard, Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) can play a seminal role by taking up marketing responsibilities as a group and safeguarding interests of farmers. Current Union Budget (2019-20) has proposed to form 10,000 new FPOs over the next five years.
  • FPOs enable farmers to enhance productivity through efficient, cost-effective and sustainable resources use and realize higher returns for their produce.
  • Additionally, Electronic National Agricultural Market is ensuring best market prices to farmers by providing on-line and transparent trading of commodities across the country.
  • Progressive market reforms, such as revised APMC Act, Model Contract Farming Act, Upgradation of Gramin Haats as Centres of Aggregation are also contributing significantly in raising the income of farmers.
  • Recently, the Government has aligned its business-oriented schemes, such as SFURTI and ASPIRE, with agricultural activities to boost business prospects in agriculture sector.

Integrated Farming System for Multiplying Gains

Integrated Farming System (IFS) is an innovative approach wherein solo agriculture systems are integrated with livestock, aquaculture, or other inter-related set of enterprises to multiply gains and reduce input cost. Waste from one enterprise becomes an input for other, thus cost is reduced, production is increased and the ultimate Income gets multiplied. IFS models are especially developed to suit small-sized farms that have resource crunch due to economic resources. Scientists, are the basis of research works conducted across the country, have concluded that multicomponent farming is the only way of efficient resource cycling, increased profitability, and sustainability. Due to these advantages, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India has laid major emphasis on IFS while planning for doubling farmers’ income by 2020.

IFS models with various combinations and permutations have been developed for different agro-climate zones and terrains for specific size of land holdings. Although these models are highly location specific, but choice of a model varies from place to place and even farmer to farmer in the same area. Net return from an IFS also varies depending on the selected model, characteristics of soil, input of resources etc. However, an extensive study in a district of Karnataka revealed that IFS can increase net farm income in the rage of 25 per cent to 150 per cent depending on the local conditions. It can be further enhanced to 40 per cent to 170 per cent by adopting new technologies. In this context, the India Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has partnered with 25 Central Agricultural Universities and one Central University and has so far developed over 45 IFS models suitable to 23 states and one Union Territory. These models are being disseminated to small and marginal farmers through the nation-wide chain of ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs).

 

Livestock of Livelihood

  • Despite being top milk producer of the world, productivity of milk producing animals and other livestock is low compared to world averages.
  • Breed improvement, better feed and nutrition, animal health, and better heard composition are some of the important measures that can raise livestock productivity and farmers’ income.
  • The Government has understood its importance and has launched several schemes for betterment of animal health and improvement in productivity.
  • Moving towards fresh waters and seas, Government has launched mission ‘Blue Revolution’ to make fisheries sector more remunerative and attractive for fish farmers.
  • Plans are ready to launch a dynamic Pradhan Mantri Matasya Sampada Yojana to establish a robust fisheries management framework.
  • Vigorous efforts with vision and policy support are chasing the goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

e-NAM: Game Changer in Agricultural Marketing

  • E-NAM or Electronic National Agriculture Market is a pan-India trading portal launched in April 2016.
  • It is a trading portal for farm produce which aims to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities by integrating Agriculture Produce Market Committees (APMC).
  • E-NAM is a device to create a national network of mandis which can be accessed online. It seeks to influence the physical infrastructure of the mandis through an online trading portal. It also enables buyers situated in state or even outside the state to participate in trading.
  • The main aim of e-NAM is to improve the marketing aspect of the agriculture sector with one license for the entire state and with single point levy.
  • Through e-NAM an entire state becomes a market for sellers and the market fragmentation within the same state gets abolished.
  • Working with e-NAM improves the supply chain of commodities and reduces wastages which can be seen in some states involve in online trading.
  • e-NAM driving agricultural trade towards the remunerative prices for farmers by plugging the trade malpractices in mandis.
  • While the farmer is the primary stakeholder, e-NAM also provides traders, commission agents and exporters better business opportunities through a unified and extensive marketplace. At the mandis across the country, farmers are slowly but surely getting a better deal.

 

Performance of e-NAM

  • e-NAM provides a simple technological way to the farmers as it allows trading of commodities at mandis through mobile and web applications.
  • For faultless operations, it makes three major changes in the agricultural marketing laws of states like provides electronic trading, single trading licences that are valid in all mandis in a state and a single-window levy of transaction fees which makes e-NAM a transparent system for regulated fair trade.
  • Farmers get fair payments and are spared the tricks employed by unscrupulous traders to manipulate the prices.
  • Online payments are picking up, the mobile app is seeing more users by the day and traders are gradually shifting from traditional auctioning practices to e-NAM, indicating a growing acceptance of new technology.
  • Finally, the mandis become farmer-friendly.

 

e-NAM: A Step Forward              

  • e-NAM is a great solution for all stakeholders. NAM provides the farmers more options for sell of their produce at nearest mandi or even in interstate.
  • For the traders, NAM offers the opportunity to access a larger national market. Bulk buyers, processors, exporters etc. benefited by being able to participate directly in trading at the local mandi level through the NAM platform, thereby reducing their intermediation costs.
  • Taking National Agriculture Market or eNAM, a step forward, a farmer from any state sold their crops to the traders in other state.
  • Similar inter-State transactions between e-NAM mandis in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh in vegetable crops such as potatoes, brinjal and cauliflower since 2019 have commenced.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare continuously conducted a series of coordination meetings with the States and Mandi board officials to facilitate inter State trade between the e-NAM States.
  • As a result of these meetings the States have now facilitated licensing of traders of each other for inter-State trade on the e-NAM portal.
  • One of the major issues that hinders seamless transaction on eNAM is the non-availability of a trading license for traders other than those from the home State.
  • The Government has been pushing the States to adopt a universal license for uninterrupted trading between states.
  • With the gradual integration of all the major mandis of states into NAM ensuring common procedures for issue of licences, single levy of fee and movement of produce.
  • By integrating more stakeholders with NAM in future, we can expect significant benefits through higher returns to farmers, lower transaction costs to buyers and stable prices and availability to consumers.
  • But this process needs more use of e-NAM by farmers and traders. Higher number of traders would help in creating a more competitive environment which in turn would secure higher incomes for the farmers.
  • For the farmers, reduced cost of transporting and licensing would directly benefit them. To increase its adoptability, many initiatives have been undertaken by the government such as:
    • Simplifying registration of farmers on the portal
    • Intensifying payment options
    • Extending e-NAM trading in six languages with availability of portal in 8 languages.

e-NAM: Advantages

 

Many advantages of e-NAM which can change Indian agriculture trade sector for ever:

  • No middlemen involved in buying-selling of agri-products; hence better deal for farmers
  • Less transaction cost
  • Single license valid across all connected mandis
  • Single point levy of all products
  • Quality testing procedure introduced for buyers and sellers.

 

e-NAM: Improvements

  • Niti Ayog’s review on e-NAM has found that many mandis are ill-equipped to access the quality of produce.
  • Without quality assaying quality assurance could not be provided to the potential buyers.
  • It has also been reported that at some mandis auctions were occurring in the traditional way and data was entered into the e-NAM portal after the complete transaction.
  • This defeats the purpose of an online portal.
  • Therefore, a need to improve the assaying bodies for quality assurance to the buyers and also timely interaction is needed for changing tradition way of auction to e auction on e-NAM.

 

Public-Private Partnership in Agriculture Sector

  • A public-private partnership (PPP, 3P or P3) is a long-term cooperative arrangement between two or more public and private sectors.
  • Historically, such a mix of public and private endeavours is used by the government. However, a greater use of various PPP arrangements by the governments across the globe has been observed since late 20th century and early 21st
  • There is no consensus definition of PPP. They can be realized both as a governance mechanism and a language game.
  • When understood as a language game or brand, hundreds of different types of long-term contracts with a wide range of risk allocations, funding arrangements and transparency requirements are covered under the PPP.
  • And as a brand, the PPP concept is closely associated with concepts like privatization and the contracting out of government services.

 

PPP Approach in various facets of agriculture

PPPs in Research

  • Many of the studies on PPPs focused on agricultural biotechnology, biosafety regulation, IPR and ways in technology transfer in support of pro-poor in developing countries.
  • Several research programmes in India actively sought increased links with private stakeholders as partners and research users which need variety of institutional innovations and incentives for better coordination of PPP leading to greater ownership of outputs and their effective promotion.
  • Few of such initiatives are:
    • Agriculture Biotechnology Support Programme
    • Insect Management of Brassicas in Asia and Africa
    • World Band funded NAIP project of ICAR
    • Vaccines using recombinant technology
    • Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay (ELISA) testing kits for disease detection
    • Gene silencing
    • Stem Cell
    • Gene Therapy
    • PPP for gender mainstreaming in agriculture

PPPs in Extension

  • Extension reforms with PPP are recommended to reach the unreached.
  • It is difficult to get immediate results as PPP in extension will take considerable time for change in the mindset of the farmers in terms of participation, adoption and acceptance.
  • Partners of PPP in extension should have the rapid and sustainable rapport with the targets continuously until the objective of the study is achieved.
  • Institutions should actually come forward to share their knowledge, technology and resources with others voluntarily, since PPP is a win-win approach.

 

PPPs in Market and Infrastructure Development

  • The Model APMS Act of Government of India encourages direct marketing to enable the farmers get the best price for their produce and create partnerships with banks, finance and logistics companies for lowest cost financing and marketing. This attracts private investment in creation of much needed marketing infrastructure, create competition and ensure better service to the farmers.
  • Direct marketing like ITC e-choupal and the National Dairy Development Board model of public-private partnership provides viable alternative for small farmers.
  • To overcome the shortcomings and challenges in the storage of food grains, the government, through FCI, adopted a phased implementation plan to build modern steel grain silos with a capacity of 10 million metric tons by 2020 through PPPs.
  • PPP can facilitate the use of micro-irrigation resulting in enhanced irrigation efficiency. Integrated micro-irrigation networks are being developed through PPs.

 

Impact of PPP models in Agriculture

  • The impact of PPP depends on involvement of institutions in collaborating and combining all available public and private skills.
  • The impact of PPP has been realized through positive changes in marketing aspects of farm produce, reduction of risks and uncertainties, social mobilization, capacity building of farm families, and economic empowerment of farmers.

 

Knowledge management

  • Knowledge management strategies in the context of PPP could result in increased production and better service delivery.

 

High End Technologies Development

  • PPPs have facilitated the development of high-end technologies, which have improved efficiency in management and institutional intellectual property management skills and information database on available technologies in the public sector.
  • This approach has facilitated the development of super sorghum through partnership of nine globally reputed institutions and completion of rice genome sequencing in 2004.

 

Farmer’s Resilience to Environmental shocks, minimisng risks and uncertainties

  • PPPs help the agricultural sector to deal with weather shocks, and enable farmers to de-risk themselves through insurance, etc.
  • Risks and uncertainties related to crop failure, natural calamities, pest and diseases infestation and natural resource management can be minimized through PPP.

 

Farm mechanization

  • PPP also helps to promote mechanized farming in remote and tribal regions like John Deere a leading farm implements manufacturing company has established eight Agricultural Resource Centers in Gujarat.

 

Social Mobilization

  • Agricultural Technology Management Agencies facilitated creation of large number of Farmer’s Interest Groups in different states in India which collaborate with private extension players resulting in direct marketing of many farm produce.

 

Productivity Enhancement

  • ICAR and Department of Biotechnology, Government of India have initiated the dialogue with Monsanto for transfer of Bt Cotton technology in India.
  • Subsequently, Mahyco partnered with Monsanto and introduced BT cotton in India.
  • It resulted in an increase of area and productivity of cotton and real cost of production reduced.

 

Economic Empowerment of Farm Women

  • Various PPP approaching in various states of India has increased the income level of farm women and resulted in improved knowledge level and productivity.

 

Investing in Smarter Value Chains

  • Food-processing industry, one of the sunrise sectors within the agricultural domain, supported by investments by government and the private sector can provide farm extension services, enhance price realization, cut out intermediaries and improve the supply chain through forward and backward linkages.
  • Government of India is developing pilot PPP projects to streamline post-harvest supply chains of major perishable agriculture and horticulture commodities through a “hub and spoke” model consisting of farm collection points and primary processing centres, backed by institutional mechanisms for forward and backward linkages.

 

Limitations of PPP Models in Agriculture

  • Lack of capital to finance agro-processing infrastructure haunts poor farmers
  • Lack of Cooperation and coordination between partners
  • Private extension services focus only on
    • Resourceful areas
    • Resource endowed farmers
    • Profitable crops and reas

 

Challenges and Way Forward

  • A reasonable time is imperative to assess the effects and impact of any economic phenomenon.
  • It is difficult to standardize a PPP format because of the parameters used in structuring of PPP cannot be the same every time.
  • The role, responsibility and risk sharing of the central and state governments are circumstantial and are likely to vary from one contract to another.
  • The lack of transparency is one of the most discussed problems related to PPP.
  • The long time taken for creation of PPP arrangement and number of formalities required to follow happen to be another issue in implementation of PPP approach.
  • A PPP project has to mainly pass through four main phases viz. Project preparation, procurement, project development and operations.
  • Each of these stages require a careful handling, planning and clear cut demarcating lines of work.
  • The formal contracts can define only the formal mechanisms, however it is difficult to foresee the steps and solutions to unforeseen problems and/or circumstantial issues which may crop up while the project is underway in a PPP contract.

 

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