The Gist of Kurukshetra: July 2016
Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare: New Initiatives and Challenges
The Union Government has taken a number of initiatives in the
area of agricultural development and farmers’ welfare to boost the productivity
and raise income of the farmers in the country. These initiatives may be seen in
the background of low agricultural growth, a fallout of two consecutive drought
years. It is also evident from the facts and figures released by Central
Statistical Office (CSO) which show that the agricultural growth rate is
plummeting, causing much concern among policy makers.
The new initiatives taken by the government are aimed at
correcting this distortion. Finance Minister in his budget speech stressed that
there is a need to think beyond ‘food security’ and give farmers a sense of
‘income security’. In order to achieve it, government is reorienting its
interventions in the farm and non- farm sectors to double the farmers’ income by
2022. To achieve this, total allocation for agriculture and farmers’ welfare
were raised to Rs. 35,984 crore. The new initiatives taken by the present
government have been designed to economise the inputs for getting more
production from less.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana
The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) is a new scheme
to develop organic clusters and make available chemical free inputs to farmers,
and to improve soil health in the fields, with an outlay of Rs. 300 crore. It
has open a new era for organic production system by allocating separate funds
for this purpose. The PKVY will be implemented through the State Governments.
It is proposed under the scheme that groups of 50 or more
farmers, having 50 acre land, would be motivated to take up organic farming
under PKVY. In the next three years, it plans to target 10,000 clusters covering
5 lakh acres. To make the scheme attractive for the farmers, it is designed to
provide Rs. 20,000 per acre as subsidy to every farmer in the cluster for three
years towards adoption of organic farming besides market assistance.
It is interesting to note that a special scheme with an allocation of Rs. 125
crore has been launched in North-Eastern Region for promotion of organic farming
and export of organic produce.
Pradhan Mantr; Krishi Sinchai Yojana
The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) has been
launched to ensure the water security in the country with the aim of ‘Har Khet
Ko Paani’ (water for each field). The Scheme is based on three pronged strategy-
- Creating sources of assured irrigation
- Per drop-more crop
- Harnessing rain water at micro level through ‘jat-sanchay’ and
In this way, the scheme lays stress on end-to-end solutions
in irrigation supply chain which includes water sources, distribution network
and farm level applications. A total of Rs 5300 crore has been allocated for the
year 2015-16 to roll-out the scheme.
Soil Health Card Scheme
The Soil Health Card Scheme is now being implemented with
greater vigour. Farmers will get information about nutrient level of the soil
and thus will be able to make judicious use of fertilizers. The target is to
cover all 14 crore farm holdings by March 2017. Under the Scheme, Rs 368 crore
have been provided for National Project on Management of Soil Health and
Fertility. In addition, 2,000 model retail outlets of fertilizer companies will
be provided with ‘soil, seeds testing facilities’ during the next three years.
National Agriculture Market
The agricultural markets are fragmented not only among the
states but even at inter-state level into different market areas, each governed
by separate Marketing Committee. This poses the problems of requirement of
multiple licenses for trading, levy of market fee at multiple points and other
monopolistic and restrictive market practices. This not only hinders the proper
market access by the farmers but also the development of required infrastructure
for handling the produce in the markets.
To overcome these problems of marketing the agricultural
produce, the government has taken the initiative to set up a National
Agriculture Market (NAM). For this purpose, the Department of Agriculture and
Cooperation (DAC) is constantly in dialogue with states and UTs to carry out
reforms in their Agri Market Laws. These reforms include doing away with the
concept of market area and enforcing single license which is valid across the
state, single point levy of market fee and electronic auction as a mode of price
Strengthening of Research
Government initiated the process to establish two new
Agriculture Universities in Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan, and two new
Horticulture Universities in Telangana and Haryana with initial budget of Rs.
200 crore. In order to give thrust to biotechnology in agriculture, Indian
Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology is being established in Ranchi. National
Research Centre on Integrated Farming System is to be established in Bihar.
National institute of High Security Animal Diseases has been established at
Bhopal to address the emergence of exotic and trans-boundary animal and zoonotic
diseases. Similarly, National Institute of Veterinary Epidemiology and Disease
informatics has been established in Bengaluru to study the changing pattern of
emerging and re-emerging animal diseases.
The performance of Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) has been
examined by a High Level Committee with a view to make them more relevant and
progressive for agricultural development. The recommendations of the Committee
include- upgradation of facilities such as soil testing, integrated farming
system, improved seed production and processing, water harvesting and
micro-irrigation, ensuring availability of electrical/solar power backup,
regular and systematic monitoring and third party evaluation. Action has been
initiated to implement the recommendations of the Committee.
Five new KVKs were opened in Baksa, Morigaon and Bongaigaon
in Assam, Raigarh in Jharkhand and Banaskantha in Gujarat. Each KVK will
organize pre-Kharif and pre- Rabi Kisan Sammelan with the consent and
participation of local Member of Parliament.
It is well known that the indigenous bovine breeds of India
are robust and possess the genetic potential to play an important role in the
economy. However, in the absence of a specific programme for development and
conservation of indigenous breeds, their potentials has also not been optimally
utilized and their population has been declining.
In view of the above, National Gokul Mission, a new
initiatives under ‘National Programme for Bovine Breeding and Dairy development’
(NPBBDD) has been launched to conserve and develop indigenous bovine breeds in a
focused and scientific manner with an outlay of Rs. 500 crore. For this purpose,
integrated cattle development centres named as ‘Gokul Grams’ will be developed.
The Gokul Grams will be established in the native breeding tracks and near
metropolitan cites for housing the urban-cattle. Gokal Grams which will act as
Centre for Development of Indigenous Breeds and a dependable source for supply
of high genetic breeding stock. Under the scheme 25 projects from 24 states have
Under Atal Pension Yojana (APY), farmers who have opened their bank account
under the Jan-Dhan Yojana, can get benefits of monthly pension. Salient features
of the APY are given below-
The Scheme is applicable for citizens between the age group of 18 and 40
The Government of India will pay 50 per cent of the premium subject to an
upper limit of Rs. 1,000 per year, and remaining 50 per cent would be borne by
On attaining the age of 60 years, the beneficiary farmers would get a
monthly· pension ranging from Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 5000, depending upon their
In order to get monthly pension between Rs. 1,000 and Rs.
5,000 per month, the subscriber has to contribute on monthly basis between Rs.
42 and Rs. 210, if he or she joins at the age of 18 years. For the same fixed
pension levels, the contribution would range between Rs. 291and Rs. 1,454 if the
subscriber joins at the age of 40 years.
A new crop insurance scheme named as Pradhan Mantri Fasal
Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has been launched from Kharif-2016 season in place of
existing National Crop Insurance Scheme, which had some shortcomings like- high
premium for the farmers, reduced claims due to capping in premium, delay in
payment of claims, its complex provisions, etc. Main features of PMFBY are as
- The maximum limit of the farmers’ share of premium as token premium is
capped at 2 per cent for kharif crops, 1.5 per cent for rabi crops and 5 per
cent for annual commercial / horticultural crops. Remaining amount will be
borne by the Government.
- Uniform premium for the crop in the country against the earlier
different premium in different districts
- Claims on full sum insured
- Enhanced coverage of risks-coverage of additional risks of inundation
risks, risks of post harvest losses
- Target to double the agri insurance coverage in 2-3 years from the
present 23 per cent to 50 per cent. Special attention on non-loa nee farmers
- Localised assessment at individual farm from area approach
- Provision for assessment of loss at individual farm level on account of
losses due to hailstorm, landslide, inundation, cyclone or cyclonic rain and
unseasonal rains after harvesting
- Use of technology like mobile, satellite etc inc the accurate assessment
of loss and early payment.
Two-third of our population depends on agriculture directly
or indirectly for their livelihoods and thus agriculture and farmers form the
backbone of our economy. Strengthening this backbone is the ultimate objective
of new initiatives of the government. The deceleration in the agriculture growth
rate is mainly due to three reasons-
- inputs intensive farming like water and fertilizers
- lack of infrastructural investment and
- lack of unified market
The new initiatives by the government aim to redress above problems. But,
there are some challenges in achieving these objectives, which have been
There were initial reactions that budget allocation under
Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare was increased. But this was not the fact
because increase in agriculture budget was more an account adjustment of
Another challenge is that the Centrally Sponsored Schemes
are to be financed as per the re-structured way where, the State Governments
would be more involved in implementation of the schemes.
The centralised approach adopted in the implementation of
the schemes of agricultural production, insurance, irrigation in a country
which is heterogeneous and different in agro-climatic zones, may be a
The benefits of various initiatives in the form of
credit, direct benefit transfer, insurance, etc is dependent on the tenancy
reforms and modernisation of land records as commented by the Niti Aayog.
Because at present, the benefits of various schemes are going to the owners
of the landholdings and not to the operators (tenants) of the landholding2J
In fact, the operators are bearing risks and reward is enjoyed by the owner
of the holdings. It gives disincentive to de-facto farmers.
The benefits under various insurance schemes are useful
for farming community as they reduce the risk in undertaking various
agricultural activities. But that is only possible if the farmers have their
accounts in banks as well as operating them regularly.
Agricultural research is very important for the success
of lab-to-land programme in the countryside. In this sector, situation is as
commented by the Economic Survey 2015-16, “In more recent years, however,
agricultural research has been plagued by severe under investment and
neglect.” During 12th Five Year Plan, the entire budget allocation in
different years for the Education and Extension has not been spent by the
Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
Given the significance of agriculture sector in the
economy and society, the government of India has initiated several steps for
its sustainable development and to enhance the income of the farmers in the
country by way of improving soil fertility, improved access efficiency of
irrigation, insurance cover to farmers and unified national agriculture
market. Different stockholders have to be involved to put these initiatives
into action in a sustainable mode. The challenges mentioned in this paper
may be addressed so that the expectations of the people may be fulfilled.