THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 25 March 2020 (Focus on horticulture and food processing(The Hindu))



Focus on horticulture and food processing(The Hindu)



Mains Paper 3:Economy 
Prelims level:  Horticulture and food processing
Mains level:Issues in horticulture and food processing and their disputes redressal

Context:

  • Horticulture is considered as a better alternative farming option for farmers in many areas due to several advantages. 
  • Besides the fact that it is more remunerative, horticulture saves water which is critical. 

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Major challenges:

  • Moreover, it can be done on dry and hilly land and has lower risks of failure. 
  • Farmers who shift to horticulture, however, do not have a safety net of selling at a minimum price in case of unforeseen problems and the case in point where farmers moved back to field crops is Punjab. 

Steps needed to improve: 

  • There is a need for the government to focus separately on horticulture and balance the incentives between field crops and horticultre.
  • To produce several export-feasible horticulture products like medicinal herbs, fruits, flowers and dry fruits which are high value and have the potential to deliver rich dividends to farmers and the country alike. 
  • The move to support districts to emerge as export hubs for a single crop is conceptually good but size, scale, infrastructure, quality and traceability need to be plugged before importing countries can open doors. 
  • The cutting down of MGNREGS allocation by 13 per cent has reduced its positive impact, which too has been compensated in the PM-KISAN scheme. 

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Proper utilisation of the government schemes: 

  • Moreover, the focus on Zero Budget Natural Farming has the potential to result in losses up to 20-25 per cent to farmers. 
  • A better implementation of Pradhan Mantri FasalBima Yojana should be facilitated in the near future through speedy and transparent processes allowing for timely disbursement of claims. 
  • This will enable farmers to claim losses in case of poor crop yields due to multiple reasons. Once optimised, this insurance scheme has the potential to provide a substantial safeguard to farmers and reduce their weather dependency.

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Food processing 

  • The processed food industry is still contingent on several uncharted risks.
  • Often it continues to be awaiting measures to live up to its full potential even though the sector plays an important role in helping farmers improve income and reduce risks. 
  • Processed foods companies working in this area directly engage with farmers to educate and enhance their knowledge on advancing technologies and develop new crops and product lines. 

Issues in food processing sector: 

  • A major issue for (especially SME) the food processing sector is inadequate access to credit from the banking sector. 
  • Unlike credit to agriculture, banks have no compulsion to lend to this sector since credit to food processing is subsumed within the 18 per cent mandated threshold for agriculture. 
  • The risks and dynamics of this sector are regrettably not understood holistically by the banks who often decline proposals or else apply onerous terms and conditions on them. 
  • Credit from banks to food processing is approximately 17 per cent of the sector size as against 45 per cent in agriculture even as the food processing sector has been growing and is projected to grow at over 12 per cent per annum in next five years due to the demographic factors. Even direct benefits to the sector such as subventions and incentivisation are minimal.

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Way ahead:

  • Overall, the improvement of the sector requires measures to enhance market efficiency by promoting more innovative platforms like ‘kisan mandis’ and other similar initiatives which create a planned and sustainable marketing infrastructure. 
  • There has been a shift in the needle. But the the government definitely needs to take bolder and more significant decisions that promote farmers’ livelihood and address not only recommendations of the Economic Survey but also on marketing the produce. 

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Conclusion:

  • Ultimately, we want the government’s ambitious scheme to ‘double farmer income’ to succeed as it will benefit over half the population in the country.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1)With reference to the Mission Solar Charkha, consider the following statements:
1. It is an initiative of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy.
2. It aims to ensure inclusive growth by generation of employment, especially for women and youth and sustainable development through solar charkha cluster in rural areas.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer........................

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Mains Questions:
Q.1)What are the major issues in food processing and agriculture sector? What are the steps needed to be taken to overcome the situation? Comment.


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