The Gist of Kurukshetra: May - 2016

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The Gist of Kurukshetra: May 2016

Agriculture & Allied Sectors: Quantum Jump through New Initiatives

The first phase of transformation of Indian agriculture (1950-70) was mainly driven by the need to achieve self-sufficiency in food grains as India was importing a large quantity of cereals, for meeting domestic shortages in 1950s and 1960s. The growth in foodgrain production during the first two decades, following the country’s independence, was small.

Post independence era, the area under irrigation was low and there were frequent droughts and the prime objective at that time was to make adequate food supplies available to the increasing population and ensuring provision of raw materials for the expansion of industrial sector. This was to be achieved by way of - imports, reorganisation of the agricultural sector and a series of development measures encompassing expansion of irrigation and, extensive as well as intensive farming.

The advent of new high yielding varieties brought Green Revolution in late 1960s, which in combination with expansion in area under cultivation and usage of chemical fertilisers increased the output of cereals, mainly - wheat and rice, followed by other coarse cereals such as maize to a certain extent chiefly in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. The Green Revolution efforts were led by renowned agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan and team of scientists from Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). Thus a combination of technological development, significant investments as well as support by the government led to a significant increase in production of cereals.

White revolution follows Green revolution

The second phase of transformation (1970-1990) witnessed a play of a combination of expansion of the Green Revolution into new crops and areas and introduction of the ‘White Revolution’ or also known as Operation Flood, which laid the foundations for consolidation of gains made in first phase and led to enormous growth of milk production in the country during 1980 and 1990s. Led by Verghese Kurien, also known as ‘Milk Man of India’, the country’s milk output saw a huge increase through setting up cooperatives in various states. Since then the milk output has risen to 146.31 million tone in 2014 - 15 and India continues to top the list of major milk-producing countries in the world followed by the USA, China, Pakistan and Brazil.

The ‘Operation Flood’ programme used a combination of food-aid in the form of milk powder and butter oil from the European Economic Community to stabilise domestic prices of dairy products and develop dairy cooperatives by creating physical and institutional infrastructure for procurement, processing and marketing of milk and building linkages with the main cities of the country. This was followed up by financial aid from the World Bank during the second phase of Operation Flood in the 1980s to integrate efforts made by state governments into a national level prograramme.

There was a significant shift in the drivers of transformation which focused from the supply side factors to the demand side factors. Though there was a respectable growth in gross irrigated area the huge increase in the usage of fertilisers witnessed in earlier two phases also decelerated. Although there was an increase in the road network and electricity generation and investment in the agricultural and allied sectors also expanded. But the supplies of all main commodities like cereals, oilseeds and sugarcane did not show much increase. The only exceptions were fruits and vegetables and cotton, the supplies of which increased significantly during this period. Similarly supplies of livestock products - milk, eggs, and meat maintained their growth momentum.

According to fisheries census released recently, ‘the country’s fish production rose from a level of 0.75 ‘million tone in 1950 - 51 to more than 10 million tone in 2014 - 15. The total fish production comprises of 3.7 million tone of marine and 6.4 million tone for inland resources. The export earnings were to the tune of Rs 33,441 crore in 201415.

The country’s poultry sector represents one of the biggest success stories in the past few decades. India is the second largest egg producer and third largest broiler chicken producer in the world with production estimates of 65,000 million (2.8 million tones) eggs and 3 million tones of broiler meat per year.

The country’s horticultural production that surpassed its grains output for the first time in 2012-13 improved the lead to 10% last year, data released by agriculture ministry recently had stated. The production of horticulture crops that include mainly vegetables and fruits stood at an all-time high 283.47 million tone (MT) in 2014-15, compared with the grain volume of 257.07 MT.

According to an Agriculture Ministry official, the horticulture produce has surpassed foodgrain output in last few years mainly because of thrust given to horticultural crops in the 11th Plan (2007-2012) through NHM, Horticulture Mission for North East & Himalayan States (HMNEH), National Bamboo Mission (NBM), etc. Implementation of National Horticulture Mission paved the way for adoption of cluster-based approach for the development of horticulture crops through linking with creation of infrastructure for post harvest management and marketing.

The CACP discussion paper titled ‘Farm trade: tapping the hidden potential’ has stated that agricultural exports have increased more than 10 times from $3.5 billion in 1990-91 to $37.1 billion in 2011-12 - a healthy annual growth rate of 13.6%.

Agricultural experts also say that crop diversification is the best way for a farmer to manage the risks associated with the market and ensure that the crop is suited to the agricultural conditions. Besides prevailing the climate change issues impacting the crop output, the government thrust on providing crop insurance to farmers would be crucial support in terms of ensuring that farmers’ income is not hit hard. In order to provide relief to drought-hit farmers, the government has announced a new Rs 8,800 crore crop insurance scheme, with significantly lower premium, to cover for loss of crop to natural Calamities.

The government has approved continuation of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) during the Twelfth Plan whereby the funding will be routed into three components - production growth, infrastructure & assets and sub-schemes & flexi-fund. The proposed allocation for implementation of this scheme during 2015-16 was Rs 9954 crore.

The National Food Security Mission (NFSM) is being implemented with the new target of additional production of 25 million tones of foodgrains comprising 10 million tones rice, 8 million tones wheat, 4 million tones pulses and 3 million tones coarse cereals by the end of the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2016-17).

Since assuming office in 2014, the Prime Minister Sh. Narendra Modia had been advocating a ‘lab to land’ approach to increase agricultural productivity. The Prime Minister has repeatedly urged agricultural scientists to disseminate technologies to farmers in simple and acceptable manner and make ‘per drop, more crop’ a mantra to promote farming through optimum utilization of water. Thus use of technology mainly supported by the government would be key to ensuring Country’s food security as well as farmers’ Income security.

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