Cabinet approves New Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan” (PM-AASHA)

Giving a major boost to the pro-farmer initiatives of the Government and in keeping with its commitment and dedication for the Annadata, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a new Umbrella Scheme “Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay SanraksHan Abhiyan’ (PM-AASHA).  The Scheme is aimed at ensuring remunerative prices to the farmers for their produce as announced in the Union Budget for 2018.

The umbrella scheme ‘PM-AASHA’ comprises three sub-schemes:

  • Price Support Scheme (PSS).
  • Price Deficiency Payment Scheme (PDPS).
  • Pilot of Private Procurement & Stockist Scheme (PPPS).

Price Support Scheme (PSS):

  • Under the scheme, the physical procurement of pulses, oilseeds, and Copra will be done by Central Nodal Agencies with the proactive role of the state governments.
  • Further, in addition to NAFED, the Food Cooperation of India (FCI) will take up PSS operations in states and districts.
  • The procurement expenditure and losses due to procurement will be borne by the Union Government as per norms.

Price Deficiency Payment Scheme this scheme (PDPS):

  • Under the scheme, it is proposed to cover all oilseeds for which minimum support price (MSP) is notified.
  • In this, direct payment of the difference between the MSP and the selling/modal price will be made to pre-registered farmers selling his produce in the notified market yard through a transparent auction process. All payments will be done directly into the registered bank account of the farmer.
  • This scheme does not involve any physical procurement of crops as farmers are paid the difference between the MSP price and sale or modal price on disposal in the notified market. The support of the central government for PDPS will be given as per norms.

For oilseeds, the states will have the option to roll out Private Procurement Stockist Scheme (PPSS) on a pilot basis in selected districts and Agricultural Produce Market Committee’s (APMC) of district involving the participation of private stockiest.

The pilot district and selected APMC(s) will cover one or more crop of oilseeds for which MSP is notified.

Since this is similar to the PSS scheme, as it involves physical procurement of the notified commodity, the scheme shall substitute PSS/PDPS in the pilot districts.

The selected private agency shall procure the commodity at MSP in the notified markets during the notified period from the registered farmers in accordance with the PPSS Guidelines, whenever the prices in the market fall below the notified MSP and whenever authorized by the state or UT government to enter the market. The maximum service charges up to 15% of the notified MSP will be payable.

Increasing MSP is not adequate and it is more important that farmers should get the full benefit of the announced MSP. For the same, it is essential that if the price of the agriculture produce market is less than MSP, then in that case state governments and the central government should purchase either at MSP or work in a manner to provide MSP for the farmers through some other mechanism.

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Only 23% of rural income from farming, reveals NABARD 2016-17 survey

 

AGRICULTURE GENERATES not even a quarter of rural household incomes in India. Even for so-called agricultural households, just over 43 percent of their average income comes from the cultivation of crops and rearing of animals, according to the National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development’s (NABARD) All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey 2016-17.

The survey reinforces a trend that has gathered momentum since the start of this century — of an increasingly less ‘Krishi’ in ‘Bharat’. While agriculture may, by definition, be largely rural, the converse, though, isn’t true. The NABARD survey estimates the total number of rural households in India for 2016-17 at 21.17 crore. The definition of “rural” is a broad one, covering revenue villages and semi-urban centers with a population of less than 50,000. Out of the 21.17 crore rural households, 10.07 crore, or under 48 percent, are “agricultural” — those with at least one member self-employed in farming and reporting an annual value of production at more than Rs 5,000. The remaining 11.10 crore households or 52 percent are “non-agricultural”.

According to the survey, whose reference period is 2015-16, the average net monthly income of Indian rural households — after deducting expenses incurred in the course of economic activity — was Rs 8,059. The highest share of this (Rs 3,504) was accounted for by wage labor (both farm and non-farm), which was followed by government or private service jobs (Rs 1,906). On the other hand, agriculture — i.e. income from crop cultivation and livestock rearing — contributed only Rs 1,832.

But what’s interesting is that even within “agricultural households”, the share of average income from cultivation and livestock rearing was just over 43 percent. The balance 57 percent income in their case, too, was from non-agricultural sources.

The NABARD survey not only reconfirms but magnifies, the findings of the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO) Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households conducted for 2012-13. That survey had estimated agricultural households to constitute 57.8 percent of all rural households. One reason for the higher share could be that the NSSO’s definition of “rural” did not extend to semi-urban centers with below 50,000 population, which made up 16 percent of households in the NABARD survey.

In the NSSO survey, 67.2 percent of the average income of agricultural households came from cultivation and livestock rearing. That share is even lower, at 43.1 percent, in the recent NABARD survey. The methodological differences notwithstanding, both surveys highlight the same fact — of rural India becoming less agricultural, both in terms of the share of families engaged in farming and a diversification of income sources even in their case.

The NSSO survey reckoned the average monthly net income of agricultural households in India for 2012-13 at Rs 6,426. That figure in the NABARD survey for 2015-16 is Rs 8,931, an increase of 39 percent over three years. A doubling of incomes would require this to go up to Rs 17,862 by 2021-22, the target date set by the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government. It is significant to note that the doubling is with reference to agricultural household incomes, which could be from both farm and non-farm sources.

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In knotty problems

The outcry and ban against plastic bags and single-use plastic packaging hold potential for the jute sector. But the more than a 100-year-old sector, supporting five million families at the farm and the industry-level, may not be in a position to benefit from this opportunity, right away

Challenges:

More than 100-year-old Jute sector, supporting five million families at the farm and the industry-level, may not be in a position to benefit from this opportunity, right away.

The availability of quality raw jute and shrinking acreage on the one hand and the failure of most jute mills to modernize has left the sector dependent on government-support like packaging reservations.

The sector is still primitive, involves labor-intensive cultivation methods and retting (drenching raw jute in water to extract the fiber) — a crucial determinant in raw jute quality — creates problems.

With raw jute prices remaining below the support price in 2017-18, area-under-cultivation may stagnate in 2018-19.

Efforts to support the sector:

A recent initiative called ‘The Jute Foundation’ (TJF) is trying to address many issues pertaining to the environment-friendly product. It is trying to engage all stakeholders –farmers, workers, mills, research organizations, and consumers.

The I-CARE programme unveiled by the National Jute Board and the Jute Corporation of India is planning to introduce a pilot project on retting technologies aimed at increasing farmers’ returns.

Jute Technology Mission (JTM):

Jute Technology Mission (JTM) was approved by the government of India in 2006 and it has 4 mini Missions. The Objectives of the JTM are as follows:

To strengthen agricultural research and technology achievements.

Development/extension of raw jute Ministry of and transfer of improved technology.

To develop efficient market linkages Ministry of for raw jute.

To modernize, technologically upgrade, improve productivity, Textiles diversify and develop human resource for the jute industry.

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Cabinet approves Three Year Action Plan of Agricultural Education Division & ICAR Institutes

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the continuation of the Three Year Action Plan (2017-2020) of the scheme for Agricultural Education Division and ICAR Institutes with an outlay of Rs.2225.46 crore [Rs. 2197.51 crore + Rs. 27.95 crore (State share) as salary component for AICRP-HS] for strengthening and developing higher agricultural education in India. It comprises of:

  1. “Strengthening and Development of Higher Agricultural Education in India – Rs. Rs.2050.00 crore;
  2. ICAR-National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) – Rs. 24.25 crore and
  3. ICAR – Central Institute of Women in Agriculture (CIWA) including All India Coordinated Research Project on Home Science (AICRP-HS) – Rs.151.21 crore.

The scheme is aimed to generate quality human resources from the institutions of higher agricultural education. It encompasses several new initiatives including, steps to attract talented students, reducing academic inbreeding and addressing faculty shortage.

It will also take care of green initiatives, mitigating faculty shortage, international ranking, alumni involvement, promoting innovations, inspired teacher network, reducing inbreeding, academia interface, technology-enabled learning, Post-doctoral Fellowships, Agriculture Education Portal, Scientific Social responsibility etc. for quality assurance ranking of the agricultural universities have been linked to the financial support under the scheme along with accreditation. Support for strengthening and modernization of infrastructure related to student and faculty amenities and capacity building of both faculty and students in cutting-edge areas through Niche Area of Excellence programme will improve teaching and encourage holistic development of the students.

This will lead to a generation of competitive and confident human resource. In addition, research on gender issues in agriculture and allied fields, formulating gender-equitable agricultural, policies/programmes and gender-sensitive agricultural-sector responses will be undertaken by ICAR-CIWA and capacity building needs of the human resources and stakeholders of the entire National Agricultural Research & Education System (NARES) will be catered leading to enhancing of competencies and capacities of the stakeholders including farmers, young scientists, students and agri-industry in NARES by ICAR-NAARM.

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) undertakes planning, development, coordination and quality assurance in higher agricultural education through a partnership with 75 Agricultural Universities (AUs) established across the country. The human resource developed by Agricultural Universities has played a pivotal role in transforming agricultural scenario to achieve self-sufficiency.

The approach is multipronged, addressing the issues of competence enhancement, attracting and retaining talented youth to agriculture education and to improve the overall infrastructure in terms of student and faculty amenities pertaining to teaching and learning.

The National Academy of Agricultural Research Management (NAARM) has played a key r in enhancing the capacities of individuals and institutions of National Agricultural Research and Education System (NARES) in agricultural research, education and technology management.

The Central Institute for Women in Agriculture has been providing a leadership role in empowering farm women as in the changing agricultural scenario the roles and responsibilities of women in agriculture are indispensable.

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Government finalises Model Contract Farming Act 2018

The Model Contract Act 2018, unveiled by Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh in Delhi brings in all services in the agriculture value chain, including pre-production, production and post-production services, under its ambit along with contract farming activity.

The act lays special emphasis on protecting the interests of the farmers, considering them as weaker of the two parties entering into a contract, the ministry states.

One of the key features of the Model Act, to be adopted and enacted by the states is that it brings contract farming outside the ambit of the APMC Act. It provides for a “Registering and Agreement Recording Committee” or an “Officer” at the district/block/taluka level for online registration of sponsor and recording of an agreement. The contracted produce will also be covered under crop/livestock insurance in operation.

Salient features of the Act:

  1. The act lays special emphasis on protecting the interests of the farmers, considering them as weaker of the two parties entering into a contract. It brings contract farming outside the ambit of the APMC Act.
  2. It provides for a “Registering and Agreement Recording Committee” or an “Officer” at the district/block/taluka level for online registration of sponsor and recording of an agreement. The contracted produce will also be covered under crop/livestock insurance in operation.
  3. In a bid to allay the fears of individual farmers, the act explicitly states that no permanent structure can be developed on farmers’ land/premises under such contracts.
  4. It gives no right, a title of an interest of the land to the sponsor. Similarly, no rights, title ownership or possession to be transferred or alienated or vested in the contract farming sponsor.
  5. The act provides for the promotion of Farmer Producer Organization (FPOs)/Farmer Producer Companies (FPC) to mobilize small and marginal farmers. The FPO/FPC can also be a contracting party if so authorized by the farmers.
  6. As per the law, the contracting party will be obliged to buy the entire pre-agreed quantity of one or more of agricultural produce, livestock or its product of contract farming producer as per contract.
  7. It also envisages the setting up of Contract Farming Facilitation Group (CFFG) for promoting contract farming and services at village/panchayat level.
  8. It also includes an accessible and simple dispute settlement mechanism at the lowest level possible for quick disposal of disputes.

The concept of Contract Farming (CF) refers to a system of farming, in which bulk purchasers including agro-processing/exporting or trading units enter into a contract with the farmer(s), to purchase a specified quantity of any agricultural commodity at a pre-agreed price.

Contract farming in India:

Although varied forms of contract farming existed in pockets in the country, the formal contract farming is not, however, widespread in India. By and large, cultivation of commercial crops like cotton, sugarcane, tobacco, tea, coffee, rubber, and dairy have had some elements of informal contract farming for a long time.

Currently, contract farming requires registration with the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) in few states.  This means that contractual agreements are recorded with the APMCs which can also resolve disputes arising out of these contracts.  Further, market fees and levies are paid to the APMC to undertake contract farming.  The Model APMC Act, 2003 provided for contract farming and was released to the states for them to use this as a reference while enacting their respective laws.  Consequently, 20 states have amended their APMC Acts to provide for contract farming, while Punjab has a separate law on contract farming.  However, only 14 states notified rules related to contract farming, as of October 2016.

Over the years, expert bodies have identified issues related to the implementation of contract farming.  These include (i) role of APMCs which are designated as an authority for registration and dispute settlement in most states, (ii) provisions of stockholding limits on produce under contract farming, and (iii) poor publicity of contract farming among the farmers about its benefits.

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‘Green Revolution — Krishonnati Yojana’

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the Umbrella Scheme, “Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana” in agriculture sector beyond 12th Five Year Plan for the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20 with the Central Share of Rs. 33,269.976 crore.

The Umbrella scheme comprises of 11 Schemes/Missions. These schemes look to develop the agriculture and allied sector in a holistic and scientific manner to increase the income of farmers by enhancing production, productivity and better returns on produce. The Schemes will be continued with an expenditure of Rs.33,269.976 crore for three financial years, i.e., 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

A Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) with a total central share of Rs. 7533.04 crore, MIDH aims to promote holistic growth of horticulture sector; to enhance horticulture production, improve nutritional security and income support to farm Households.

National Food Security Mission (NFSM), including National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm (NMOOP), with a total central share of Rs.6893.38 crore.  It aims to increase production of rice, wheat, pulses, coarse cereals and commercial crops, through area expansion and productivity enhancement in a suitable manner in the identified districts of the country, restoring soil fertility and productivity at the individual farm level and enhancing farm level economy.  It further aims to augment the availability of vegetable oils and to reduce the import of edible oils.

National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) with a total central share of Rs.3980.82 crore.  NMSA aims at promoting sustainable agriculture practices best suitable to the specific agro-ecology focusing on integrated farming, appropriate soil health management and synergizing resource conservation technology.

Submission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE) with a total central share of Rs.2961.26 crore.  SMAE aims to strengthen the ongoing extension mechanism of State Governments, local bodies etc., achieving food and nutritional security and socio-economic empowerment of farmers, to institutionalize programme planning and implementation mechanism, to forge effective linkages and synergy amongst various stakeholders, to support HRD interventions, to promote pervasive and innovative use of electronic / print media, interpersonal communication and ICT tools, etc.

Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP) with a total central share of Rs.920.6 crore.  SMSP aims to increase production of certified / quality seed, to increase SRR, to upgrade the quality of farm-saved seeds, to strengthen the seed multiplication chain, to promote new technologies and methodologies in seed production, processing, testing etc., to strengthen and modernizing infrastructure for seed production, storage, certification and quality etc.

Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM) with a total central share of Rs.3250 crore.  SMAM aims to increase the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to the regions where availability of farm power is low, to promote ‘Custom Hiring Centres’ to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to small landholding and high cost of individual ownership, to create hubs for hi-tech and high value farm equipment, to create awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building activities, and to ensure performance testing and certification at designated testing centers located all over the country.

Mission on Plant Protection and Plan Quarantine (SMPPQ) with a total central share of Rs.1022.67 crore.  SMPPQ aims to minimize loss to quality and yield of agricultural crops from the ravages of insect pests, diseases, weeds, nematodes, rodents, etc. and to shield our agricultural bio-security from the incursions and spread of alien species, to facilitate exports of Indian agricultural commodities  to global markets, and to promote good agricultural practices, particularly with respect to plant protection strategies and strategies.

Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics and Statistics (ISACES) with a total central share of Rs. 730.58 crore. It aims to undertake the agriculture census, study of the cost of cultivation of principal crops, to undertake research studies on agro-economic problems of the country, to fund conferences/workshops and seminars involving eminent economists, agricultural scientists, experts and to bring out papers to conduct short-term studies, to improve agricultural statistics methodology and to create a hierarchical information system on crop condition and crop production from sowing to harvest.

Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC) with a total central share of Rs. 1902.636 crore. It aims to provide financial assistance for improving the economic conditions of cooperatives, remove regional imbalances and to speed up –      cooperative development in agricultural marketing, processing, storage, computerization and weaker section programmes; to help cotton growers fetch remunerative price for their produce through value addition besides ensuring supply of quality yarn at reasonable rates to the decentralized weavers.

Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM) with a total central share of 3863.93 crores. ISAM aims to develop agricultural marketing infrastructure; to promote innovative and latest technologies and competitive alternatives in agriculture marketing infrastructure; to provide infrastructure facilities for grading, standardization and quality certification of agricultural produce; to establish a nation­wide marketing information network; to integrate markets through a common online market platform to facilitate pan-India trade in agricultural commodities, etc.

National e-Governance Plan (NeGP-A) with a total central share of 211.06 crore aims to bring farmer centricity & service orientation to the programmes; to enhance reach & impact of extension services; to improve access of farmers to information &services throughout crop-cycle; to build upon, enhance & integrate the existing ICT initiatives of Centre and States; and to enhance efficiency & effectiveness of programs through making available timely and relevant information to the farmers for increasing their agriculture productivity.

The Schemes/Missions focus on creating/strengthening of an infrastructure production, reducing production cost and marketing of agriculture and allied produce. These schemes/missions have been under implementation for varying duration during past few years.

All these schemes/missions were appraised and approved independently as separate scheme/mission. In 2017-18, it has been decided to club all these schemes/missions under one umbrella scheme ‘Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana’.

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