Smart And Proper Agriculture: The Green Revolution, which started in India in the 1960s, made a significant contribution to the progress of agriculture and allied sectors by making the nation massively advanced in domestic food production. It has transformed India from a food-deficient country to a food-surplus and export-oriented country.
70% of rural households in India are still mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, out of which 82% are small and marginal farmers.
However now India is facing problems of second generation especially with regard to sustainability, nutrition, adoption of new agricultural techniques and income level of the population dependent on agriculture.
Importance of Agriculture in Indian Economy
Food Security and Driven Development of Industrial Sector:
- Rich agricultural production in India is the main factor for food security of the large Indian population.
- Agriculture ensures the supply of raw materials to various agro based industries like sugar, jute, cotton textile and vegetable industries. Similarly, the food processing industry is also dependent on agriculture.
- For industrial development, it is very important to increase rural purchasing power because two-thirds of India’s population lives in villages.
- With the increase in income after the Green Revolution, the purchasing power of large farmers increased substantially.
Source of Government Revenue:
- Agriculture is a major source of revenue for both the central and state governments of the country. The government is getting a significant income from the increase in land revenue.
- Some other sectors like railways, roadways are also getting a significant portion of their income from movement of agricultural commodities.
- Contribution to International Trade: Agriculture also plays an important role in international trade. Jute, tea, coffee and spices are well known traditional export products of the country.
Current challenges before Indian Agriculture
Deterioration in Soil Health:
- Wind and water erosion, deforestation, urbanization, natural vegetation degradation, conversion of forests into agricultural lands, etc. are causing deterioration in soil health in a big way.
- Analysis of the Soil Health Card Scheme confirms alarmingly low levels of Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) across the country. It is noteworthy that SOC is an important indicator of soil health.
Decreasing size of farms:
- Labor productivity is hampered due to the size of the land. The average size of farms in India continues to shrink, hampering labor productivity and limiting the economies of scale.
- Farm size of most of the rural households has reduced to unviable levels, prompting farmers to leave farming and migrate to cities in search of better employment opportunities.
More Cropped Per Drop:
- At the national level, only 52% of India’s Gross Cropped Area (GCA) is under irrigation.
- Despite the remarkable progress made since independence, a large proportion of the farms in India are dependent on monsoon for irrigation, which limits their ability to increase crop intensity.
Lack of convenient access to credit:
- Convenient credit is not available for small and marginal farmers. According to a survey conducted by NABARD in the year 2018, farmers owning small plot size had taken more loans from non-institutional lenders as compared to farmers owning large plot size (> 2 hectares).
- This indicates that small and marginal farmers are more dependent on informal sources of credit (which also charge higher interest) than large farmers.
- Despite the rapid commercialization of Indian agriculture, most farmers, especially small and marginal farmers, give more priority to cereal production (due to minimum support prices) and neglect crop diversification.
- Ineffectiveness of Policy Infusion: Land leasing laws in India have taken a form that discourages formal leasing agreements between the landlord and the lessee/tenant.
- There is a large number of informal leasing positions in the country. Due to the lack of identification of tenants, targeted benefits such as disaster relief and direct benefit transfers to tenants run the risk of being distributed to landowners as the landowner appears to be the tenant in official records.
Some major Initiatives of the government for the development of Agriculture sector
- E-NAM Portal
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beam Yojana (PMFBY)
- Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF)
Way of Solution
Combining traditional and cutting edge technologies:
- Traditional technologies have proved to be extremely useful and relevant in the field of rainwater harvesting and recycling of organic waste for plant nutrients, pest management etc.
- To produce a synergistic effect, traditional technologies should be combined with modern frontier technologies like tissue culture, genetic engineering to achieve higher productivity.
Inputs for Knowledge Intensive Agriculture:
- India is known for its diversity of agricultural practices. It is important to include diverse perspectives in the national level dialogue to find suitable solutions for the future.
- In addition, advanced nations are now moving towards precision farming where sensors and other scientific instruments are used for precise practices and applications of inputs.
- An efficient/smart and precise move towards hi-tech farming in India will reduce the average cost, increase the income of farmers and solve many other challenges of scale.
Investment in research and innovation:
- Increasing research and innovation in agriculture is essential to address the impact of climate change on agriculture and move towards sustainable agriculture.
- For example, the livestock sector contributes the most to carbon emissions within the agriculture sector in India, so it is important to assess their impacts to find sustainable solutions.
- Innovative technologies such as Geographical Information System (GIS) and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AIML) are advancing rapidly to lay the groundwork for a revolutionary era in agriculture.
- Since India is vulnerable to insect and weed attacks, there is a need for a strategic and integrated approach to deal with the risks posed to the life and health of animals and plants along with the food security of consumers.
- National Farmers Commission chairman M.S. Swaminathan also recommended setting up of a National Agricultural Biosecurity Program.
Upgradation of Crop Surplus Management:
- There is a need for an infrastructure up-gradation and development program for post-harvest management, quality regulation of seeds, fertilizers and agrochemicals.
- Along with this, it is also necessary to promote grading and standardization of procurement centres.
Leveraging wider leverage through market integration:
- Infrastructure and institutions should be established to streamline domestic markets and link local markets with national and global markets.
- In order to facilitate seamless integration between domestic and global markets and to manage trade liberalization more effectively, India needs a nodal institution that can closely monitor global and domestic price movements and in a timely manner to avoid major shocks. and take appropriate measures.
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