(The Gist of Kurukshetra) NEW
PROCUREMENT POLICY FOR ENHANCING FARMERS' INCOME
NEW PROCUREMENT POLICY FOR ENHANCING FARMERS' INCOME
It is an annual exercise that the commission for Agricultural
Costs and Prices announces the minimum support prices of two dozen of crops,
prior to their sowing, but only four are being procured by the Government,
at those announced prices.
Wheat and paddy are procured by Food Corporation of India along
with the State Agencies to maintain the buffer food stocks at the central
level. The cotton is procured by Cotton Corporation of India and Sugarcane
by the Sugar Mills of the State.
The Green Revolution was largely dependent on the assured
marketing, that proved a big gladiator to enhance the area and production of
wheat and paddy, the staple crops of the country. The total production of
food grains that was only 82.02 million tonnes in 1960-61 thrived to 129.59
million tonnes in 1980-81 and further rose to 271.96 million tonnes in
2016-17 that includes 163.29 million tonnes of Paddy and 96.64 million
tonnes of wheat. The production of paddy was only 51.87 million tonnes and
wheat was just 11.00 million tonnes in 1960-61.
The new high yielding varieties of wheat and paddy were developed
by the research Institutes and Agricultural Universities. As Paddy and
wheat, both require adequate quantity of water for irrigation, so the area
under those crops escalated much higher in Punjab, Haryana and U.P. which
had abundant water and particularly the groundwater on which, 60 percent of
the irrigation was dependent. The farmers of those states diverted towards
the cropping pattern of wheat and paddy. The Punjab and Haryana saw the
staggering results in the output of these crops that is why these two states
had been contributing about 80 percent in the total food stocks of the
Pulses and oilseeds are the high valued crops those could be
helpful to enhance the income of the farmers, but as shown by data concerned
with these crops where the area under pulses had increased marginally.
Since the inception of the minimum support price policy in
Agriculture, when the minimum support price (MSP) of both the pulses and
oilseeds were enhanced significantly, the area and output must have
increased accordingly. The new crop procurement policy announced by the
Central Government looks as a most prudent policy that would mitigate the
uncertainty as well as the fear of volatile and unfavourable prices of those
Key highlights of the new procurement policy
In this new Procurement Policy, the government has envisaged the
three alternatives. In first, the additional crops would be procured by the
Central Government with partnership of the concerned State Government.
In second case, the seller of those crops would be paid the balance of
M.S.P. and the market price by the government, but the farmers would have to
register themselves with the regulated market of the area.
In the third option, the private traders can procure those
products but those traders would have to pay the minimum support prices as
announced by the Central Government. While analysing the probable impact of
these three options the first one looks as the most prudent and appropriate
to enhance the confidence of the farmers because the Government either
Central or State, would be responsible to pay the announced minimum support
The sugarcane output of 30 million tonnes that is much higher than
the required sugarcane for the demand of sugar of the country that is
estimated to be 25 million tonnes. The area under paddy can be diverted for
high value crops without impacting the food stocks of the country.
India is a country of small farmers, the large number of holdings
belongs to marginal and small farmers below 2 hectares, those are 85.01
percent of the total holdings and holdings below 4 hectares are 95.05
percent of the total. Any agricultural policy must address the problems of
this large number of farmers where the assured marketing is a significant
imperative. As these farmers are to eke out their living by their farm
income, they can't adopt the crops those are involving even an iota of risk.
That is why all such farmers are opting for the wheat and paddy for their
assured marketing at the announced prices.
There are certain other high value crops which are being used for
medicines and for other necessities. The fruits and vegetables are also in
the list of high value crops, but those are affected by the big volatility
in their prices.
It has been observed that a few agro-processing units are
operating for value addition of agricultural products but availability
of raw material is an issue. Such impediments can be removed by encouraging
the contract farming between agro-processing unit and the farmers with the
prudent and suitable legal framework In the state. The rules to obtain the
material from the farmers and the disposal of their product to the
processing units must be justified, safeguarding the interest of the farmers
as well the processors for the smooth functioning of Agro Processing
It is never desirable that the nation may waste its precious
sources. The sources must be utilized to the maximum for the welfare and
uplift of the farmers and the general public. The contract farming, a sort
of assured procurement could be the best option. The new procurement policy
with the objective of assured marketing must boost the area under high value
The farm size is the most important factor of production, but area
cannot be enhanced rather the size of the holdings would further deplete by
division of land among family members.
The yield of the crop is already at its saturation point
particularly those of the principal crops, because of the application of the
Jaw of diminishing marginal returns. But yield of high value crops can be
enhanced being the new crops.
Even the new varieties of those crops can be evolved. The efforts
of the government in this direction is yielding positive results.
While analysing the overall situation of cropping pattern in the
country, it can be concluded that state procurement of some other high value
crops must have its favourable impact in the enhancement of the income of
the farmers particularly the small farmers, those are below 5 acres but
precautions to mitigate the challenges must be adopted, while implementing
this new procurement policy.
The main among them is that the cropping pattern may not get
drifted towards the high value crops, jeopardizing the food crops and food
stocks of the country.