DMPQ-. The declining growth in agriculture owing to two consecutive drought years indicating a building up rural distress, discuss a roadmap to ensure complete agrarian transformation of sort to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the farmers and food security for the population?

The decline in agriculture growth is attributed to two consecutive drought years; as 60% of

Indian agriculture is rain-fed.

  • A target of 4% growth has been envisaged for agriculture and allied sectors for twelfth plan period, however, the growth was (-) 0.2 per cent in 2014-15 & 1.1% in 2015-16. The depressing situation of agriculture alone cannot be blamed on rain deficit alone.
  • Indian agriculture is suffering from many problems like productivity issues; infrastructural issues including irrigation, lack of mechanization, poor power supply, lack of quality rural roads; marketing & policy challenges and agriculture credit challenges.
  • An overhaul of agriculture is required for sustainable livelihood of India’s nearly 49% population, which depends on agriculture & for food security of entire population.

The following issues, if addressed with sustainable solutions can change the face of Indian agriculture.

  • The major challenge of Indian agriculture is low productivity, evident in modest average yields, especially in pulses; indiscriminate use of Urea & pesticides are deteriorating the health of soil & making it infertile. To improve the productivity, soil health need to be maintained, government’s initiative of soil health card for to monitor the micro & macro nutrition in the soil can play a significant role, farm mechanization & optimal use of fertilizers & pesticides can also add to the productivity. Use of Hybrid seeds, GM crops & biotechnology can help to develop the sustainable increase in productivity.
  • Infrastructure like Irrigation facility should be enhanced to cover 60% of rain-fed agriculture area. Irrigation capability & efficiency need to be improve using management of available water resources & irrigation technology like sprinkle, drip technology. Halophytic & drought resistant crops can be developed to overcome the dependency of agriculture on monsoon. Government’s Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yoyana, mapping of water resources using GIS & establishment of long term irrigation fund are moving forces, which can produce result, if implemented at ground level. Feeder separation for agriculture power supply can improve on its timely utility.
  • In India 40% of the funds of farmers still come from informal sources. Local money lenders account for almost 26 per cent share of total agricultural credit, enhancing access to institutional credit for farmers needs to be addressed. Affordable & timely availability of credit is the key to save the farmers from debt trap. The regional disparity in the distribution of agricultural credit also needs to be addressed. Financial inclusion through Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, increased allocation to agriculture credit, cess for farmer’s welfare initiatives like Krishi Kalyan Cess, can improve the formal finance to agriculture.
  • Reforms are required in agriculture marketing. Existing APMCs need to reform. Contract farming & national agriculture market, Model APMC is the need of the hour so that farmers get true value for their product.
  • Food processing & allied activities need to be promoted so that disguised labor from agriculture can be converted into productive one. This will also enhance the value addition retention & reduce the wastage of produce.
  • MSP for the pulses needs to be declared to incentivize the production of pulses; this will ensure the nutritional security & reduce the import of pulses. PDS system need to make more transparent & better targeting will ensure the least leakage & sustainable food security burden.

Finally, India need more focus on Research & development & extension activities. Discoveries in lab need to translate at field level. Demonstration activities, awareness campaigns & use of modern technology like ICT can enhance the knowledge base of farmers on how to approach agriculture in a scientific & more productive way.

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