The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu has called for the introduction of structural changes through policy interventions to bring in a positive bias towards agriculture and make it resilient, sustainable and profitable.
- Agriculture sector accounts for 18 percent of India’s GDP and provides employment to 50 percent of the workforce of the country.
- The Gross Value Added by agriculture, forestry, and fishing is estimated at Rs 17.67 trillion (US$ 274.23 billion) in FY18.
- During the 2017-18 crop year, food grain production is estimated at a record of 284.83 million tonnes.
- The introduction of high yielding varieties, irrigation facilities, increased input flow through fertilizers and pesticides, farm mechanization, credit facilities, price support, and other rural infrastructure facilities ushered the green revolution over the past few decades.
- The growth of Agricultural sector is important for inclusive growth and poverty alleviation.
- Need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to find long term solution to various challenges faced by the Agricultural sector, Loan waiver is only a temporary relief but proves futile in long run in addressing Farmers concerns
- India today is not only self-sufficient in respect of demand for food but is also a net exporter of agri-products occupying seventh position globally. It is one of the top producers of cereals (wheat & rice), pulses, fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, and marine fish. However, we are still facing a deficit of pulses and oilseeds. Although the availability of fruits, vegetables, milk, meat, and fish has increased, the most important aspect is to ensure access and affordability to a vast majority of Indians, including farmers.
Food processing industry
- Plays a critical role in improving the agrarian economy, raising farm incomes, reducing wastages, ensuring value addition, promoting crop diversification and generating employment opportunities as well as export earnings.
- The vital link between agriculture and industry.
- The Indian food and grocery market is the world’s sixth largest.
- The Indian food processing industry accounts for 32 percent of the country’s total food market, one of the largest industries in India.
- India holds a unique position among 172 countries practicing organic agriculture.
- India is home to 30 percent of the total organic producers in the world but accounts for just 2.59 percent (1.5 million hectares) of the total organic cultivation area of 57.8 million hectares.
- leading horticultural country of the world with a total annual fruits and vegetable production of 306.82 million tonnes during 2017-18
- India is the second largest fruit producer in the world.
- Has been growing faster than the crop sector.
- The contribution of livestock output to the total output of the agriculture sector has significantly increased from 15 percent in 1981-82 to 29 percent in 2015-16
- Acts as cushion and engine for agricultural growth.
- India is also the world’s second largest milk producer and is emerging as a major exporter now.
- It is contributing around 26 percent to total agriculture GDP.
- Climate change, fragmented land holding, increase in demand for food, stagnating farm incomes, declining productivity, diminishing and declining natural resources etc.
- Lack of favorable terms of trade, vagaries of monsoon, technology not reaching farmers in time, the absence of proper marketing strategies etc.
- 85 percent of farmers are small and marginal with land holding of fewer than 2 hectares.
- Linking these small farmers with the market is another major challenge in our system.
- To enhance the farmers’ income, it is necessary to link them with marketers, traders, and exporters.
- Challenges for food security in the 21st century is not only improving productivity but also yield stability through the development of crops which are disease-resistant, pest-resistant and adaptable to climate change.
Solution to address the challenges
- Some ways to address the issues – accord top priority to farmer-oriented marketing, providing adequate cold storage facilities and refrigerator vans, focusing on food processing through value addition, extending timely and affordable credit to farmers and ensuring that innovations and technologies reach the farmers, researchers and farm experts to come out with solutions to the multi-dimensional problems faced by the farming sector.
- United efforts by governments, the scientific community, Krishi Vigyana Kendras, and farmers to realize the ambitious goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
- Students pursuing agri courses must spend at least six months with farmers to have a first-hand understanding of the problems faced by the latter.
- Adopt the latest technologies from seeds to post-harvest management to marketing and to improve productivity on par with the other leading nations.
- The use of Information Technology, Space Technology, Geo-Informatics, Internet of Things (IoT), Block Chain Technology, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data Analytics and their first-mile connectivity to farmers is vital for enhancing farm incomes. Digital technologies can also help in countering vagaries in farming and optimizing the resources.
- Improve soil fertility on a sustainable basis through the soil health card scheme.
- Provide improved access to irrigation and enhanced water efficiency through Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY).
- Support organic farming through Paramparagat KrishiVikasYojana (PKVY).
- Creation of a unified national agriculture market to boost the income of farmers.
- To mitigate risk in the agriculture sector, “Pradhan Mantri Fasal BimaYojana (PMFBY) has been launched for implementation from Kharif 2016.
- Focusing on irrigation with schemes like “Per Drop More Crop”, provision of quality seeds and nutrients based on soil health, setting up warehouses and cold chains to prevent post-harvest crop losses, promoting value addition through food processing, creating a National Farm Market, removing distortions and e-platform across 585 Stations.
- To achieve the target of doubling farmer income by 2022 increasing investments in agricultural R&D and rolling out efficient institutional reforms are vital to tackle the emerging challenges in agriculture, including food and nutrition security both at national and regional levels.