As we all know current state of agriculture in India is result of green revolution which is in place since late 1960’s, which was heavily backed by government. It has delivered India food security and sufficiency which was critical at that time. This progress and security had its own costs in terms of environment and economic viability. Green revolution rampantly used fertilizers and other chemicals, which made food and water, toxic to some extent. It supported indiscriminate use of water as rice was main target of revolution. India’s 80% of fresh water is consumed by agriculture, more particularly by rice farming.
Further, in past GR constantly increased yields per hectare of various food crops. Originally yield per hectare for rice was merely 1 ton and now it stands over 3 tons. In case of wheat it’s around 2.4 tons. This increase was incremental over all these years, as more and more cultivated area kept coming under irrigation, high yield varieties and fertilizers. But in recent past, these measures are showing fatigue and yield growths are flattening up. We have seen in last articles that increasing costs of fertilizers are pushing agro costs upwards and turning food unaffordable for masses. Also, due to indiscriminate use of fertilizers, nutrients in the soil are depleting rapidly.
In short, it is being realized that original means adopted by green revolution are to some extent exhausted. As yields on Indian lands are still far below world average, our policy makers will have to look somewhere else, to bring it at par with world average. Current state of agriculture is not sustainable at all. Consequently, new agriculture policy of India aims at sustainable agriculture, which is popularly called ‘second green revolution’ or ‘Evergreen Revolution’.
Almost every current policy can be covered under category of second green revolution. It aims at information technology revolution, bio technology revolution, R&D and targeting of specific crops etc. Information Technology will create awareness in farmers, introduce them with more cost efficient technologies and enable them to choose among different alternatives. It is, in fact a support service like customer care, where information deficit on part of farmer will be addressed. We tried to cover this at length in previous article.
Bio technology revolution aims at improving genetic traits of crops, by making them draught, pest, weed, climate resistant. This is to be done by genetically engineered crops, by continuously improving them. However use of GMO crops and its benefits are controversial and this issue was also covered in previous article. Another aspect of bio tech revolution is use of bio pesticides and bio fertilizers. This is actually part of bigger strategy targeted towards organic farming.
Organic Farming in India
Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time. It is a method of farming which is primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (bio fertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an ecofriendly pollution free environment.
To promote organic farming a central scheme named ‘National Project on Organic Farming’ is in place. Apart from general things (creating awareness, promoting organic fertilizers, training, capacity building etc.) scheme provides financial assistance through Capital Investment Subsidy Scheme for agro-waste compost production units, bio-fertilizers/bio-pesticides production units, development and implementation of quality control regime, human resource development, etc.
It is worth mentioning that, north eastern India has highest potential for organic farming. It has distinct agro- climatic zone and its soil is immensely rich in organic matter. Further, it was aloof of any green revolution and consequently farmers there still use traditional methods. All this obviously is perfect opportunity for promoting organic farming rigorously in the north east. There is ‘Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan States’ under which financial assistance is provided for adopting organic farming and setting up of vermin compost unit. Note that scheme is also available in other Himalayan states.
Also, there is ‘Indo Israel Agricultural cooperation action plan’ in which Israel shares its expertise (mainly in organic farming & related technologies) with India. This cooperation includes structured interactions between governments, experts and most important – farmers. This comprises of bilateral sharing of knowledge and technologies, establishment of Centers of Excellence in various agriculture sectors across India, exchange visits of experts and farmers and Post-doctoral scholarships for Indian agriculture researchers in Israel.
Two Centers of Excellence have already been made fully operational – one for vegetables in Gharaunda (Karnal) and the other for fruits in Mangiana (Sirsa) — in Haryana while work is in progress to establish three such centers in Maharashtra- a citrus centre in Nagpur, a pomegranate centre in Rahuri and a Kaisar mango centre in Aurangabad.
Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)
It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for the holistic growth of the horticulture sector covering fruits, vegetables, root & tuber crops, mushrooms, spices, flowers, aromatic plants, coconut, cashew, cocoa and bamboo. Scheme took off in 2014. While Government of India (GOI) contributes 85% of total outlay for developmental programs in all the states except the states in North East and Himalayas, 15% share is contributed by State Governments. In the case of North Eastern States and Himalayan States, GOI contribution is 100%. National Horticulture and Bamboo mission are integrated under this mission. These both come under National Horticulture Board.
National Horticulture Mission
National Horticulture Mission, a centrally sponsored scheme is in place since 2005-06. The objective of this scheme is to provide holistic growth of horticulture sector in India and to enhance horticulture production.
All the States and Union Territories are covered under the Mission except the eight North Eastern States including Sikkim and the States of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, which are covered under previously mentioned separate mission. The assistance from Government of India will be 85% with 15% contribution by the State Government. All crops except coconut and medicinal plants are covered under NHM.
National Bamboo Mission
Mission envisages promoting holistic growth of bamboo sector by adopting area based, regionally differentiated strategy and to increase the area under bamboo cultivation and marketing. Steps have been taken to increase availability of quality planting material by supporting setting up of new nurseries and strengthening of existing ones. It addresses forward integration by taking steps toward marketing of bamboo products, particularly of handicraft items. Here also biggest potential lies in north eastern India.
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna
Introduced in 2007 as a new ‘Additional Central Assistance scheme’ to incentivize States to draw up plans for their agriculture sector more comprehensively, taking agro-climatic conditions, natural resource issues and technology into account, and integrating livestock, poultry and fisheries more fully. This involves new schemes for Additional Central Assistance to State Plans, administered by the Union Ministry of Agriculture over and above its existing Centrally Sponsored schemes, to supplement the State-specific strategies including special schemes for beneficiaries of land reforms. There are no. of sub schemes under RKVY, some of them are–
- Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India –Specifically targets improvement in rice productivity in 7 eastern states viz. Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh as original green revolution brought a little impact here. It includes some components of green revolution, such as irrigation and also focuses on water harvesting/conservation etc.
- National Saffron Mission – Kashmir valley’s Karewa soils are perfect for growth of saffron which is considered as one of the most expensive cash crop. However area under saffron cultivation and yield per hectare are on constant decline. To arrest this decline National Saffron Mission was initiated in 2010.
The objective (as in other missions) of the Saffron National Mission is to improve the overall production of saffron, enhancing quality of saffron, enhancement of research and extension capability and develop appropriate system for organized marketing for the growers.
- Nutri-cereals – To promote production of millets viz. Jowar, Bajra, Ragi etc. through better technologies and creating awareness about their health benefits. These crops are more nutrient and protein rich then rice and wheat, but less remunerative to farmers.
- Accelerated Fodder Development Program – Targets fodder development through technologies. It is quite important for Animal Rearing sector as it is getting short of fodder.
- Promotion of oil palm
- National Mission for protein supplements – To promote animal based protein production through livestock development, dairy farming, piggery, goat rearing etc.
- Rainfed Area Development program – Improve quality of life of small and marginal farmers in rainfed areas.
- Crop diversification in Original green revolution states- States of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are involved in ‘Intensive farming’ of rice and wheat which is causing depletion of soil nutrients. To stop this it is very important to diversify cultivation towards horticulture, which is precisely aimed by the scheme.
National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
It is one of the eight Missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change and seeks to address issues regarding ‘Sustainable Agriculture’ in the context of risks associated with climate change by devising appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies for
- ensuring food security,
- equitable access to food resources,
- enhancing livelihood opportunities and
- Contributing to economic stability at the national level.
It seeks to transform Indian agriculture into a climate resilient production system in the domain of crops and animal husbandry. These interventions would be embedded in research and development activities, absorption of improved technology and best practices, creation of physical and financial infrastructure and institutional framework, facilitating access to information and promoting capacity building.
Promotion of dryland agriculture would receive prime importance by way of developing suitable drought and pest resistant crop varieties.
The Mission would also expand its coverage to rainfed areas for integrating farming systems with management of livestock and fisheries, so that agricultural production continues to grow in a sustainable manner. Under integrated farming system, agriculture, horticulture or animal husbandry is integrated, to develop a system which derives synergies from each other. An example, Poultry waste can be fed to fishes hence saving costs and it can also be used as effective manure for horticulture.
National Food Security Mission
Food Security Mission was launched in 2007, which comprised rice, wheat and pulses to increase the production of rice by 10 million tons, wheat by 8 million tons and pulses by 2 million tons by the end of the Eleventh Plan. (Targets were duly achieved). The Mission is continued during 12th Five Year Plan with new targets of additional production of food grains of 25 million tons of food grains comprising of 10 million tons rice, 8 million tons of wheat, 4 million tons of pulses and 3 million tons of coarse cereals by the end of 12th Five Year Plan. Mission also aims at improving soil fertility and improving employment opportunities.
(Note that in 12th FYP, it includes coarse cereals and commercial crops too.)
Mission during 12th FYP has five components
- NFSM- Rice
- NFSM-Pulses: This mission is further supplemented by Accelerated Pulses Production Program (A3P). India is biggest producer of pulses at 25% of world’s production and still it has to import pulses. This is mainly because of low yields. A3P aims at Integrated Nutrient Management and Plant protection to enhance yields and productivity.
- NFSM-Coarse cereals
- NFSM-Commercial Crops
Integrated Pest Management
The term IPM refers to – “the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms”
Scheme with such name is in place since 1985. Read more here
Integrated Scheme for Oilseed, Pulses, Oil Palm and Maize (ISOPOM)
Four erstwhile schemes of Oilseeds Production Program, Oil palm Development Program, National Pulses Development Program and Accelerated Maize Development Program – have been merged into one Centrally Sponsored ‘Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil palm and Maize’ (ISOPOM) being implemented from 1.4.2004.
Different components (i.e. pulses, oil palm etc.) of scheme are in force in different states as per dominant cropping pattern of the state. For e.g. for oil palm it is applicable in 9 major oil palm producing states. It aims to promote crop diversification and provides focused approach by giving financial assistance in purchase of various agriculture inputs such as seeds, agro chemicals, technology, expertise, infra etc.
Note- Pulses component of ISOPOM was merged with National Food Security Mission
Subsidy is funded by Central and state government in 75:25 ratio.
Technology Mission on Cotton
The Govt. of India launched Technology Mission on Cotton in February 2000. The objective of TMC was as under:
- To improve the yield and quality of cotton, particularly in respect of staple length, micronnaire, strength, etc. through development of better cotton varieties as well as through improved seeds, and integrated water, nutrient and pest management technologies.
- To increase the income of the cotton growers by reducing the cost of cultivation as well as by increasing the yield per hectare through proper transfer of technology to the growers.
- To improve the quality of processing of cotton, particularly in respect of trash, contamination, etc. by improving the infrastructure in the market yards for cotton and by modernizing the existing ginning & pressing factories and setting up new units.
Right now India is at second position behind china in cotton production and it is expected to overtake china this year. After this mission there has been constant increase in cotton production on back of high yield variety and GMO seeds.
Initiatives in Budget 2014
- Price Stabilization Fund – a Rs. 500 crore fund was announced to compensate farmers when there is fall in agricultural prices.
The Price Stabilization Fund Scheme for the Plantation crops (Tea, Coffee and Rubber) was already there since 2003 with the objective of providing financial relief to growers on account of fall in the prices of commodities below a specified level.
A Price Stabilization Fund for agricultural commodities has been announced in the Union Budget 2014-15 with a view to mitigate volatility in the prices of agricultural produce.
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
The Government has proposed to initiate the scheme “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana”. It is proposed to meet the need to provide assured irrigation to mitigate risk to the farmer since bulk of the farm lands are rainfed and depend on monsoon. This scheme would facilitate access to irrigation. A sum of Rs.1000 crores is being set aside for this scheme.
- Kisan Vikas Patra Re-Introduced
Kisan Vikas Patra is being re-introduced to encourage people, who may have banked and unbanked savings to invest in this instrument. Kisan Vikas Patra is a saving scheme that doubles the money invested in eight years and seven months. The Directorate of Small Savings Government of India sells these saving bonds through all Post Offices in the country so that the scheme can be accessed by citizens from all over the country. A KVP can be encashed after two and a half years from the date of issue at the value it has been bought and the interest accrued for the period.
Kisan in this doesn’t mean that only farmers are eligible to invest. Anybody except a business entity, HUFs and NRIs can invest. Proceeds of the scheme will be utilized for benefit of farmers.
- Soil Health Card
One of the most serious problems of Indian agriculture is bad targeting of inputs, be it water, fertilizer or choice of crops to be grown. Soil of different farmlands differ in their nutrient composition and can support (or not) different specific suppose. If farmer is aware which crop to grow and how much and which nutrient to supply, then he will save enormous costs and at same time get better yields. For this Scheme of Soil health card is initiated on pilot basis. Under this mobile soil testing laboratories will be set up which will do soil certification and farmers will be issued a soil health card.
State Governments have adopted innovative practices like involvement of agricultural students, NGOs and private sector in soil testing, determining average soil health of villages, etc., to issue Soil Health Cards.
This is prerequisite for effective ‘integrated nutrient management’
Given the problems of chemical based agriculture, second green revolution is quite important that prefers organic farming. It is true that heavy current dependence upon chemicals and water intensive techniques, gives little room for any remarkable change in near future. But as time passes, conventional means will get even more expensive and this coupled with growing concern for water security will force farmers to adopt sustainable methods. Of late farmers are showing their interest in organic farming. Its advantages are many – environment friendly, nontoxic, its value is significantly higher than normal crops. Interestingly, this sector is attracting investments from non-farmers too. Further, R&D is focusing on developing water efficient technologies. One such technology developed is ‘system of rice intensification‘ which not only saves water significantly, but also increases yield of rice.