Indian Agricultural-India is an agrarian economy and the agriculture sector is one of the major contributor to the GDP. Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood as 58% of population depend upon it directly or indirectly . India has largely achieved self-sufficiency in production of food grains, delivering strong and fast economic growth for past several years. The country has unique competitive advantages with the largest arable land area which is 60.44% of an estimated 179.8 million hectares and diverse agro-climatic conditions supporting the cultivation of various crops. The share of agriculture sector in the country’s total export is 11.76 % in 2018-19.
After Independence, agricultural development was given the top most priority to attain self-sufficiency in food grains to feed the rapidly increasing population. Several public policies and investment decisions were taken particularly with regard to irrigation, fertilizers, land reforms and community development. Adoption of Green Revolution in 1960s saw significant increase in food production and encouraged by the success of green revolution, successive governments have introduced many initiatives for agricultural sector. However soaring rate of suicides, distress migration from rural to urban areas and rural indebtness tells about the general state of agriculture in India. It is engulfed by many challenges.
Challenges to Indian Agriculture
Some of the challenges faced by Indian agriculture are as follow:
Dependency on Nature
India’s agriculture sector is highly dependent on monsoon which results in large imports of edible oils and pulses etc., whereas the exports of agriculture based products is very low.
Involvement of Middlemen
Middlemen are involved in the selling of farmer’s produce in the farmer’s market. This cuts down the profits which would have otherwise gone to the farmers. In many cases, the fertile lands are being sold to real estate builders for industrial purposes.
India’s agricultural sector is considered to be highly regulated with extensive involvement of government. In many cases, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fails to reach the farmer, who ultimately has to bear the loss of crop failure.
There are several restrictions on internal and external trade which has led to high cost marketing and trading options for the agricultural commodities. On a careful analysis, one can deduce that the investment of the private sector is comparatively low in the agricultural domain.
• Fragmentation of Land Holding In India the average size of land holding is declining. There is continuous sub-division and fragmentation of agricultural land due to increasing population.
There are two types of crops produced by the farmers such as food crop and cash crop. As cash crops have been more profitable than the food crops, hence, more land has been used for producing cash crop or commercial crops. It may lead to food crisis.
• Use of Traditional Farming Techniques Most of the farmers are still using the traditional tools and equipments like woodenplough. It results in low productivity.
•Lack of Proper Inputs Inputs like fertilizers, high yielding variety seeds are not used by Indian farmers in proper amount.
• Lack of Irrigation Facilities Indian agriculture still lacks artificial irrigation facilities. Thus, Indian farmers have to depend much on the rainfall which is neither regular nor even.
Lack of Organised Agricultural Marketing
Due to lack of proper organised markets, Indian farmers are facing the problem of low income. Agricultural marketing in India is facing the problem of marketing farmer’s produce due to inadequate transportation and communication facilities.
Highly Fluctuations in Agricultural Prices
Fluctuation in the prices of agricultural products poses a big threat to Indian agriculture. It promotes the habit of growing one or two crops which provides guaranteed return. It is detrimental for soil health as well as nutritional requirements of masses. For instance Rice and Wheat are preferred over coarse cereals such as millets.
It is one of the major problems of Indian agriculture. According to All India Rural Finances Survey 2016-18 conducted by NABARD, 52.5% of the agricultural households had an outstanding debt and their average outstanding debt is almost as high as the average annual income of agricultural households.
Measures Taken by Government
government, after taking cognizance of above challenges, has started many nitiatives which ensures that farmers are provided with quality seeds, better rigation and fertilizer facilities, credit and insurance support among others . The government of India has come up with many schemes and measures to address the faced by farmers. Some of the schemes launched and measures taken are iven below
• National Food Security Mission (NFSM) covers cluster demonstration of rice, wheat, pulses and coarse cereals, distribution of hybrid seed varieties, soil management methods, efficient water management and farm mechanisation.
• Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) focuses on providing quality seeds, product improvement techniques of horticulture plants like fruits, vegetables, spices, dry fruits, flowers and plantation crops like bamboo and coconut. National mission on oilseeds and oil crops aims to improve the yield of oilseeds crops by using agricultural techniques like intercropping and use of fallow land.
• National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) aims at making agriculture more productive and sustainable. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana is another new scheme which motivates groups of fifty or more farmers to switch to organic farming.
• Farmer’s often suffer as they are not able to get a fair price for their produce. The e-Nam or National Agriculture Market was launched to introduce market reforms in agriculture sector. It is an online platform for trading agricultural commodities in India.
The online market platform facilitates farmers, traders and buyers with online trading in agriculture commodities for better price discovery and provide facilities for smooth marketing of farmer’s valuable produce.
• Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) provides end-to-end solutions to irrigation related problems. It was launched with the motto of ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’ for providing an efficient irrigation supply to the farmers. Apart from assured irrigation, the scheme also focusses on creating protective irrigation by harnessing rain water at micro level through Jal Sanchay’ and Jal Sinchan’. Micro-irrigation forms an important component of the scheme with the aim of Per drop-More crop’ that will involve using micro irrigation techniques to improve irrigation efficiency and reduce the input cost of irrigation to the farmer.
• Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana was launched to ensure comprehensive crop insurance coverage from pre-sowing to post harvest losses againt non-preventable natural risks. In this scheme, premium rates are extremely low which are payable by farmers at 2% for Kharif crops, 1.5% for Rabi Crop and 5% for annual horticultural crops.
• Pradhan Mantri Kisan Maan-Dhan Yojana (PM-KMY), launched on August 2019, is an old age pension scheme for small and marginal farmers in the country. It ensure a monthly pension of 3000/- on attaining the age of 60 years.
• The new scheme of Mega Food Park started by Government of India is a robust mechanism to link agricultural production to the market by bringing together farmers, processors and retailers so as to ensure increased income of farmers. The Mega Food Park Scheme is based on cluster approach and envisages creation of state of the art support infrastructure in a well-defined agri/horticulture zone in rural areas.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Indian Agriculture is a way of life, a culture for a significant population of India“. The Indian Government has left no stone unturned in pursuance of doubling the farmer’s income. From increasing MSP prices to crop insurance, every component of agriculture is now focused upon. Further to enhance private investment in agriculture, model contract farming act has been enacted. Government is also working upon the model of Agricultural Export Zone (AEZ) based on the concept of Special Economic Zone (SEZ). A large population with rising middle class is further driving the demand. All this holds the key for ‘economic transformation of farmers and emergence of an Inclusive India’.
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