(The Gist of Kurukshetra) NEW PRIORITIES FOR AGRICULTURE
NEW PRIORITIES FOR AGRICULTURE
Accelerating growth in agriculture is the most desirable option for
sustaining a high rate of growth of 8 10% in GDP, as is being aimed at. In the
context of the current production levels, doubling food production in the next
five years will be a great challenge and test of our capacity to successfully
employ all possible growth-inducing measures. Doubling the country’s food
production as well as farmers' income is an imperative that we cannot ignore.
Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Nearly 55 per cent of the
population is engaged in agriculture and allied activities contributing 17.4 per
cent to the country’s Gross Value added. Therefore, the growth of agriculture
and allied sectors is a critical factor in improving the performance of Indian
economy. The growth of the agriculture and allied sectors decreased from 7.0 per
cent in 2010-11 to 2.8 per cent in 2011-12, and to 2.1 per cent in the first
half of the current financial year. This deceleration is perhaps reflective of
the challenging economic scenario, but this situation can be reversed quickly
through improved farm technologies. We have envisaged the agriculture sector to
grow at 4 per cent and above per annum. As demand for major crops are projected
to slow down, we will have to rely primarily on productivity gains to attain the
targeted growth. Agriculture ought to be an effective agent of change in rural
economy in India.
1. Soil Health Card Scheme: To address the issue of poor soil health,
“Soil Health Card” (SHC) scheme was launched with an outlay of Rs. 568.54 crore
to provide information on soil fertility status to each one of the 140 million
farmers of the country once in a cycle of 3 years on a continuous basis.
2. Promotion of Organic manure: Ten lakh compost pits for production
of organic manure will be taken up by making productive use of the allocations
Promotion of City Compost: The government initiated a scheme to
produce city compost and made it mandatory to ensure its sale through fertilizer
industry along with fertilizers to improve soil health. In the first phase,
fertilizer companies will co-market city compost for increasing the efficacy of
chemical fertilizers. This scheme has been connected with ‘Swochh Bharat Abhiyan’.
The fertilizer industry will get incentive @ Rs. 1500/ per ton for the sale of
Incentives to Fertilizer Industry for Soil and Seed Testing: Two
thousand model retail outlets of fertilizer companies will be provided with soil
and seed testing facilities during the next three years.
Rationalizing NPK Pricing to Minimize Subsidy Burden: Government is
making available fertilizers (Urea and 21 grades of P&K fertilizers)to farmers
at subsidized prices through fertilizer manufacturers and importers. Fertilizer
subsidy and rationalizing the NPK pricing for optimizing NPK ratio and better
application technologies to improve efficiency and reduce fertilizer subsidy by
Rs.25,000-30,000 crores annually is essentially important.
3. Enhancement of Pulses Production: Incentives are being given for
enhancement of pulses production. Rs. 500 crores under National Food Security
Mission has been assigned to pulses. The number of districts covered has been
increased to 622.
4. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana: Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana"
is an elaborated component of Soil Health Management (SHM) of major project
National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). Under PKVY, Organic farming
is promoted through adoption of organic village by cluster approach and P65
certification. The Scheme envisages promotion of commercial organic production
through certified organic farming.
5. Farmers Inter-State Exposure Visits and Training: Budget on Farmers
Inter-State Exposure Visits and Training Scheme of Ministry of Agriculture will
prove as a powerful tool towards helping Farmer Bridge the yield gap. Crop
productivity can be significantly increased by managing soil health and adopting
the best management practices.
6. Development of Rainfed Agriculture: The production problems and
risks associated with rainfed farming have been articulated since the IV Five
year Plan. It is known that rainfed agriculture produces more than half of
India’s food grains. Rainfed farming communities ensure food security. They
cultivate a significant share of area devoted to crops like pulses (77 per
cent), oilseeds (66 per cent), and coarse cereals (85 per cent). They rear 78
per cent of the goats in the country. According to the National Rainfed Area
Authority (NRAA), these farmers produce over 34 predominant crops (compared to
the 3 or 4 crops in irrigated tracts), handle diverse crop livestock
combinations and inland fisheries thereby maintaining India’s rich
bio-diversity. Today, it is acknowledged that even with full coverage of the
irrigation potential, about 50 per cent of arable land will continue to depend
on rainfall. Farmers need decentralized location specific natural resource based
knowledge and inputs for their farming systems. They are wary of the centralized
supply driven input intensive commodity production technologies. Many of these
technologies (though subsidized) were expensive and also depleting and
deteriorating their land water and biological resources and driving them to
7. Irrigation: Irrigation is a critical input for increasing
agriculture production and productivity. Out of 141 million hectares of net
cultivated area in the country, only 46 per cent is covered with irrigation. The
government is serious not only to increase irrigated area, but also to enhance
water use efficiency. A brief description of various initiatives taken by the
Government for irrigation development is given below.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): The major objectives of
the PMKSY is to achieve convergence of investment in irrigation at the field
level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water
use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of irrigation,
and adoption of water saving technologies (More Crop Per Drop), enhance recharge
of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practices by exploring
the feasibility of reusing treated municipal based water for peri-urban
agriculture and attract greater private investment in precision irrigation
system. The ’Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojano’ has been strengthened and
will be implemented in mission mode. 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under
irrigation under this Scheme.
Long Term Irrigation Fund: A dedicated Long Term irrigation Fund will
be created in NABARD with an initial corpus of about Rs 20,000 crore. To achieve
all these, a total provision of Rs.12,517 crore has been made through budgetary
support and market borrowings in 2016-17.
Sustainable Management of Ground Water Resources: Simultaneously, a
major programme for sustainable management of ground water resources has been
prepared with an estimated cost of Rs. 6,000 crore and proposed for multilateral
Promoting Scientific Agriculture through Micro-Irrigation: Promoting
micro-irrigation (drip and sprinkler system) and fertigation, on a very large
scale, can be highly efficient towards increasing water and nutrient use
efficiency. Priority should, therefore, be given to empower farmers with
micro-irrigation. Advanced concept of Precision Agriculture need to be promoted
on a large scale, emulating the success of Tamil Nadu Precision Farming Project
(TNPFP). A National Project on Precision Agriculture on the pattern of TNPFP
should be launched with an integrated approach from advance production
technologies to formation of FPOs and linking them with the markets. Studies
done by LSE, Harvard, IIM-A and other premier global institutions show an
increase of 80% to 600% extra yields in different crops under Tamil Nadu
Precision farming Project.
8. Reducing Crop Losses from Pests: Crop losses in India are huge and
estimates range from Rs. 90,000 to Rs. 1.50 lac crores annually, Pesticides play
an important role not only in crop productivity, cost reduction and quality
improvement, but also in protecting crops from pests and diseases. The cost
benefit ratio in using pesticides is heavily in favour of farmers. The
Government however, needs to check flood of spurious pesticides in market by
fly-by-night operators by regulating registrations, strengthening quality
enforcement and tackling corruption through provisions of joint testing of
9. Biotechnology: Biotechnology has the potential to increase
productivity in crop sand facilitate incorporation of genes for resistance to
pests, diseases and abiotic stresses and is set to play a critical role in crop
and livestock production by enhancing yields, nutritional profile, stress
tolerance and crop protection. India must have a clear vision of the GM crops.
As per studies, BT cotton alone has contributed more than Rs. 80,000 crores of
additional output value to farmers. Similar potential many other crops may have
for Indian agriculture and towards enhancing farmers profitability.
10. Farm Mechanization: Farm Mechanization in India has been a story
of tractorization. Time has come for promoting efficient equipments and tools
and small engine driven tractors to address small farm requirements adequately.
Through a mix of specialized CHCs and with State Agros, Cooperatives and input
dealers developing and custom hiring facility in farm mechanization should be
given high focus. Through MANAGE network of ACABCs, Custom Hiring Centres can be
promoted effectively by enhanced incentivization and by provisioning to hire
agribusiness consulting companies by MANAGE/States for Promoting CHCs among
11. Agricultural Credit: Suicide by the farmers after having failed in
breaking the credit net of local financers is very often heard of. To improve
credit support, government has increased the target of agricultural funding Rs.
50,000 cr. to 8.5 lakh crore (cr). For 2015-16, the NABARD had projected an
annual credit potential of Rs. 47,756.43 cr. pre for some of the priority
sectors including water resources, land development, farm mechanization, dairy,
poultry, fishery, construction of storage go-downs and market yards and
promoting renewable sources of energy and waste management.
12. Farm Insurance: The government has initiated new insurance scheme
wherein, the farmer would be able to at least recover the basic inputs that he
puts in, in the event of uncertainties created by more than one reasons.
Towards Doubling Farmers' Income By 2022:
It is to be noted that at this point of economic history, "Doubling Farmers
income" is imperative rather than being an option and it has been one of the
most important activities of the present day government. The budgetary
allocation of the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry for 2018-19 has been
kept at Rs. 58,080 crore as against Rs. 51,576 crore for 2017-18, for the
emancipation of the sector this year, but there are many wings of this sole bird
To double the income of farmers by 2022, in nominal (numerical) terms, which
do not take inflation into account, would require a 15% compounded income growth
rate, which is a marginal increase over the achieved increase from 2003 to 2013.
However, to increase the income real terms would imply restructuring agriculture
processes and policy interventions. There is, however, almost unanimity that the
net income of farmers can surely be doubled well within the period of four
years. A total of 40 recommendations for increasing incomes of farmers, have
been divided into five parts, as under:
1. Increasing incomes by improving crop productivity.
2. Water and agriculture input policies.
3. Integrated Farming System.
4. Better market price realization.
5. Special Policy Measures.
Based on the recommendations of National Commission on Farmers, Government
announced measuring agricultural progress by real income of farmers and not by
gross production of agricultural commodities. The Finance Minister in his Budget
2016 Speech mentioned about doubling farm incomes. Later, the Prime Minister
gave a clarion call to the nation of doubling farmers' by 2022 by spelling out
5-point strategy. Accordingly a Task Group has been formed by the Ministry of
Agriculture to come out with a detailed plan and it’s Operationalization. ln
this context, Indian Council of Food and Agriculture organized a national
consultation on 30 April, 2016 in New Delhi, involving top experts from the
Government, industry, research and academic bodies, farmers organizations,
parliamentarians and NGOs. The meet was chaired by Prof. MS Swaminathan. Let us
explore the various fronts as summarized below:
1. Diversification of Agriculture:
Diversification of agriculture in the First Green Revolution areas such as
Punjab, Haryana and Western U.P. seems to be the need of the hour. To promote
diversification on ecological principles, will require making monetary
equivalence (profit margin) between the replaced crop/commodity and enterprise
with the ones planned to be introduced. Farmer is mainly concerned with the
profit he gets from a particular crop or commodity. Crops like maize, soybean,
pulses, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables have the potential to replace rice and
wheat in this area. Upward push in MSP in favour of proposed diversification
crops will be a practical option to achieve this objective.
2. Promotion of Intensive Vegetable Production:
Promotion of intensive vegetable production using improved varieties, organic
manure and drip irrigation, can provide five times higher annual income, to the
tune of Rs. 2 lakhs per acre (BAIF’s experience in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and
Maharashtra). Farmers in semiarid areas with 2-3 cows or 8-10 goats and
cultivating dual purpose food grain crops on 0.4 ha land, have been earning Rs.
60,000-75,000 per annum. With efficient watershed development, land use planning
and selecting of suitable crops, the income of the farmers can go up by 80-100%
to generate an annual income of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000.
3. Integrated Farming System:
The promotion of Integrated farming System Approach involving synergic
blending of crops, horticulture, dairy, fisheries, poultry, apiculture,
sericulture, goatary, piggery, mushroom cultivation etc. seems viable option to
provide regular income and at site employment to small land holder, decreasing
cultivation cost through multiple use of resources and providing much needed
resilience for predicted climate change scenario. Model Farms @ Rs. 200 lacs
each need to be established in each district with 100% Gol funds for farmers to
learn and adopt.
4. Dairy Husbandry and Fisheries:
To meet the working capital needs of small and marginal farmers in fisheries
and animal husbandry sector, the government has extended the facility of Kisan
Credit Cards (KCC) to the sector. This would give benefit of crop loan and
interest subvention, so far available to agriculture sector only under Kisan
Credit Cards (KCC), for rearing of cattle, buffalo, goat, sheep, poultry and
fisheries. For Setting up of Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure
Development Fund in fisheries sector and an Animal Husbandry, Infrastructure
Development Fund for financing infrastructure requirement of animal husbandry
sector has been allocated. Total Corpus of these two new Funds would be
5. Better Market Price Realization (MSP):
Taking into cognizance the recommendations of the “National Commission on
Farmers”, Indian Council of Food and Agriculture involving top experts from the
Government, industry, research and academic bodies, farmers organizations,
parliamentarians and NGOs, several recommendations were made including pricing
of agricultural produce. One of the most welcomed and appreciated points in this
year’s budget are the announcement of 1.5 times the expenses borne by farmers.
The support price of the kharif crops has been increased aiming to increase the
incomes from farm.
6. Operation Greens
This addresses price volatility of perishable commodities such as potatoes,
tomatoes and onions at an outlay of 500 crore. This shall promote FPO, agri
logistics and processing facilities and professional management in the sector. A
100% deduction in respect of profits to farmer producer companies having a turn
over upto 100 crore for a period of 5 years from the Financial Year 201849 has
been announced in order to encourage professionalism in post-harvest value
addition in agriculture.
7. Development of Warehouses for Reducing Post Harvest Losses:
Reducing post-harvest losses by strengthening grain storage infrastructure,
cool chain systems for perishables, post-harvest processing and value addition,
transport, marketing, commerce and trade is essentially important. It was
recommended to strengthen Agri infrastructure, storage systems and market yards.
More multipurpose market yard complexes, comprised of godowns, cold storage,
farmers service center etc. needs to be set up for farmers to directly
participate, especially online in NAM. Enabling policy provisions can be done
for large scale play of corporate in agricultural marketing and storage
operations. The NABARD aims to create scientific storage space of 9.23 lakh ton
by construction of godowns and warehouses by PG.
8. Revision of the APMC Act:
It was recommended to amend APMC act by all the states to encourage
competitive marketing environment and participation in NAM. Direct marketing and
contract farming should be made easy for the farmers. Also to encourage the
States for contract farming under which the buyer can provide the farmer access
to modern technology, quality inputs, other support and a guaranteed price. A
few experiments of direct procurement backed with technical support have shown
to benefit the farmers in some States. Reforms to the APMC Acts to permit pan-indie
trades. Electronic auctions and trading in warehousing receipts assume
importance. Enactment of policies that enforce the standardization of
agricultural produce such that graded product would have a form of a logo or
label mandatorily attached to it to signify that the product meets all the
standardization and grading requirement for packing, sealing etc., and only
traders who are willing to follow the regulation are given “Certificate of
9. Launch of e-Nam :
The government would strengthen e-NAM, the e-trading platform for the
National Agriculture Market and would expand cover age of e-NAM to 585
Agriculture Produce Marketing Companies (APMCs). Out of that, 470 APMCs have
already been connected to the e-NAM network and the rest were proposed to be
connected by March 2018. Also, an agri-infrastructure fund with a corpus of
$2,000 crore will be set up for developing and upgrading agricultural marketing
infrastructure in the 22,000 grameen (rural)agricultural markets and 585 APMCs”.
Upgradation of 22,000 rural haats into grain agricultural markets is another
appreciable attempt. Indian Council of Food and Agriculture recommended that
launch of NAM requires easing of norms of licensing to enable seamless
participation of buyers from across the country, movements of goods without
restriction, harmonization of tax laws(including a uniform GST), standardization
of grades and recognition of electronic trades. Exchanges would also have to
widen the participation by facilitating farmers to take positions through
cooperative or other aggregators such FPOs.
The agriculture centric rural development is the key to transforming rural
lives. To achieve this, all out efforts are needed to enhance crop productivity
through adoption of improved farm technologies in a holistic way and ensuring
reasonable price of the farm produce. Diversification of agriculture on the
principle of Integrated Farming involving agriculture and allied sector (dairy,
fisheries, bee keeping, sericulture, goatery, piggery, mushrooms, food
processing, fruit preservation)etc. would be essential and inevitable.