Agricultural problems and action taken : Civil Services Mentor Magazine: DECEMBER - 2017

::Agricultural problems and action taken::

Socio economic caste census revealed that out of 24.39 crore households in India, 17.91 crore live in villages. Agriculture is backbone of rural India and in that way majority of India's population depend upon the agriculture. Socio economic caste census alsoputs a disturbing picture of 10.69 crore deprived households. Agriculture can also help in bringing these deprived households out of deprivation. According to World bank, agriculture raises income of poor households 2.5 times as much as growth in other sectors does. Over the years Indian agriculture sector has faced various challenges like stagnent productivity, declining profitability, insecurity, drought etc.

There are various reasons for the problems which agriculture sector is facing. Real price of agriculture commodities are not increasing in tune with the increasing cost of the inputs in agriculture like fertilizers, labour etc. Indian farmers also face the problem of poor quality seeds. This leads to poor productivity compared to other countries. Indian farm productivity for most commodities is 40-50 percent of the international average. Yield needs to be increased in order to provide food security to large population of India in the future. Other challenges include lack of mechanisation, soil erosion, degrradation in soil, poor harvest losses and inefficient agriculture marketing system. The job potential or employment opportunities and the earnings in the agriculture sector are not high. However, as per 2011 Census, nearly 54.6 per cent of the total workers are still engaged in agricultural activities, mainly in subsistence farming. This is partly due to the manufacturing and industrial sector not generating adequate employment opportunities to absorb the labour force from the agriculture sector and partly due to the lower level of education and skills of the labour force in the agriculture sector which find it difficult to migrate to other sectors.

Over the last year government has taken various steps to solve the problem of agriculture sector. Important among them include:

  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY);
  • Soil Health Card Scheme;
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY) ;
  • National Agricultural Market ;
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA);
  • National Crop Insurance Programme (NCIP).

Along with the regular problems associated with agriculture last two years have seen drought across India due to the effects of el-nino. In order to solve the problem of drought this year government has taken various steps. Important among them are given below:

  • Allocation of additional days of work under MGNREGA to households in drought affected areas: The Government has decided to provide an additional 50 days of unskilled manual work in the financial year over and above the 100 days assured to job card holders in such rural areas where drought or natural calamities has been notified. This will enable States to provide additional wage employment to rural poor in drought affected areas.
  • Diesel Subsidy Scheme for farmers in affected areas : It has been decided to provide diesel subsidy to the farmers to enable them to provide life saving irrigation through diesel pump sets in the drought and deficit rainfall areas to protect the standing crops (allocation of Rs.100 cr). The farmers in the affected regions will be covered during the current SouthWest monsoon period till 30th September, 2015.
  • Enhancement of ceiling on Seed subsidy. In order to compensate the farmers in the drought affected districts for the additional expenditure incurred in the sowing and /or purchasing appropriate varieties of drought resistant seeds it has been decided to raise the extant ceiling on seed subsidy by 50% over existing levels for distribution in drought notified districts. The enhancement is valid till 31.12.2015.
  • Interventions for saving perennial horticulture crops: Appropriate input support measures will be provided to rejuvenate water stressed horticulture crops, with an additional allocation of Rs.150 crore. The scheme is to be implemented in all drought affected districts / blocks in the country which are covered under Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), being implemented by Dept. of Agriculture, Cooperation& Farmers Welfare.
  • Flexible allocation under RKVY and other centrally sponsored schemes: States have been advised to keep aside about 5 to 10% of fund allocated under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) for undertaking appropriate interventions, if the situation so warrants, to minimize the advance impact of an aberrant monsoon on the agriculture sector.
  • Advisories to the states: State Governments have already been advised to initiate advance remedial action e.g. constructing water harvesting structures under MGNREGA and other such schemes, promoting agronomic practices for moisture conservation, promoting cultivation of less water consuming crops and restoring irrigation infrastructure by desilting canals, energizing tubewells, replacing/repairing faulty pumps.
  • Availability of seeds and other inputs for kharif, 2015 : Availability of seeds and other inputs is being monitored / reviewed on a continuous basis in the weekly Crop Weather Watch Group (CWWG) Meetings being held in the Department of Agriculture. Weekly video conference with States is also being held to get firsthand information about State’s preparedness and to advise States appropriately whenever needed.
  • Crisis management plan for drought for the year 2015: A Crisis Management Plan (CMP) for Drought has been in place and is available at the website of Dept. of Agriculture & Cooperation, Min. of Agriculture. The plan has also been updated recently in consultation with Stakeholder Ministries/Departments.
  • SDRF/NDRF funds First Instalment of SDRF released : The State Government is primarily responsible for providing necessary relief in the wake of natural calamities. Government of India supplements the efforts of state Governments with financial assistance. For undertaking relief measures, funds are available with the State Governments in the form of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF). Additional financial assistance, over and above SDRF, is considered from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) for natural calamities of severe nature and is approved on the basis of Memorandum received from State Government in accordance with established procedure, keeping in view items and norms in vogue for assistance.

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