HE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 12 November 2018 (From Plate to Plough: Less crop per drop)

From Plate to Plough: Less crop per drop

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture
Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana
Mains level: Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices;


  •  Maharashtra’s chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis, has announced that the state has suffered a drought in 2018 and that it is seeking drought relief of Rs 7,000 crore from the Centre.

Irrigation Potential Created (IPC)

  •  It is defined as the area (taking into account multiple cropping) which can be provided irrigation through the facilities which have already been created.

Irrigation Potential Utilised (IPU)

  •  It is defined as the total gross area actually irrigated during the year under consideration

This raises several questions:

  •  First, what happened to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), which was supposed to compensate farmers in case of a drought year?
  •  Second, what happened to the massive irrigation investments that the state had been making over the last 15 years or so in drought-proofing its agriculture?
  •  Third, if Maharashtra is to be compensated from drought relief, why not the other states that have suffered similar drought, or even worse?
  •  Our analysis is limited upto 2013-14, as there is no information on IPC and IPU after 2013-14, even with the Central Water Commission or Ministry of Water Resources.
  •  While yearly expenditures are known, no one knows whether these have created any additional irrigation.
  •  Progress is measured by expenditures, not by whether farmers havereceived any water or not!

What they are seeking for ?

  •  While engineers and contractors are quick to announce IPC after construction of reservoirs and main canals, farmers benefit only when this potential created is converted to potential utilised, which is to be ensured by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
  •  These costs are so high that one is forced to think whether any investments in public irrigation in Maharashtra are worth making.
  •  We say this because the profitability in crop cultivation from public irrigation hardly matches with the opportunity cost of public irrigation.
  •  The question to ask is whether the existing farmers with access to public irrigation are making this much (Rs 1.6 lakh/ha) as netincome?

Way forward

  •  In sum, public irrigation needs major overhauling in the country, especially in states like Maharashtra.
  •  Also, there is the question of who uses how much of irrigation water.
  •  In Maharashtra, although about 19 per cent of gross cropped area is irrigated, in case of sugarcane, it is 100 per cent and, in case of cotton, just 3 per cent.
  •  Can the Fadnavis government take up this challenge and distribute irrigation water from public canals more equitably amongst farmers, on per ha basis?
  •  If everyone gets equal access to canal waters, it could lead to the emergence of water markets amongst farmers, encouraging efficient cropping patterns with respect to water.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Which among the following were the demands of the Congress under the moderates?
1. Development of agricultural banks to save peasants from money lenders.
2. Improvement in working conditions of plantation labourers.
3. Spread of primary education among the masses.
Select the correct answer using the code given below.
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Answer: D

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Can the Fadnavis government take up the challenge and distribute irrigation water from public canals more equitably amongst farmers?