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Challenges Faced by Farm sector in India and Reforms Needed

 GS Paper 3

Context:  The farm sector faces the challenge of sharing growth gains sustainably, beyond just boosting productivity.

 

Significance of Agriculture Sector in Indian Economy:

SignificanceDescription
Contribution to GDPAgriculture contributes around 15-16% to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), showcasing its pivotal role in economic growth and development.
Resilience during Covid-19Despite economic downturns in other sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture remained resilient, contributing 18.8% to Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2021-22.
Employment GenerationThe farm sector employs over 45% of the country’s labour force, especially vital in rural areas where most engage in agricultural activities, according to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) report for 2021-22.
Food SecurityIndia’s agriculture sector plays a vital role in ensuring food security for its 1.3 billion population, producing staple crops like rice, wheat, pulses, and vegetables.
Foreign Exchange EarningsAgricultural exports contribute significantly to foreign exchange earnings, surpassing USD 56 billion in 2021. India ranks as the largest producer of milk and pulses, and the second-largest producer of wheat and rice globally.
Raw Material Provider for IndustriesAgriculture supplies raw materials for various industries such as cotton for textiles, sugarcane for sugar, and oilseeds for edible oils, fostering strong linkages within the economy and supporting the Ethanol Economy.
Strategic SignificanceA robust agricultural sector reduces dependence on imports, ensuring food security, especially vital for a populous nation like India.

 

challenges faced by farmers img
agriculture at the time of independence

 

Current Major Challenges Related to India’s Agriculture Sector:

  1. Fragmented Landholdings: 89.4% of agricultural households own less than two hectares of land.
  2. Menace of Climate Change: Erratic monsoon patterns and rising temperatures disrupt crop yields.
  3. Water Scarcity: Over-exploitation of groundwater and inadequate irrigation infrastructure limit productivity.
  4. Market Inefficiencies and Price Fluctuations: Lack of access to well-developed markets and fair pricing affects farmers. Middlemen and complex supply chains lead to price gaps.
  5. Inadequate Storage and Transportation Facilities: Poor storage infrastructure and transportation networks result in post-harvest losses. Around 74 million tonnes of food is lost annually in India.
  6. Limited Access to Credit and Insurance: Small farmers struggle to access affordable credit and crop insurance.
  7. Soil Degradation and Resource Depletion: Overuse of chemical fertilizers and inadequate soil conservation practices lead to soil degradation.
  8. Inefficient Agriculture Policy: Complex policies and ineffective implementation hinder progress. The gap between policy and reality is highlighted by controversies like Minimum Support Prices (MSPs).
  9. Stagnated Growth: Despite employing a significant labour force, agriculture’s contribution to GDP is low.

 

Agrarian Reforms role in driving Socio-Economic Change

  1. Land Redistribution: Reforms like the West Bengal Land Reforms Act aimed to redistribute land to landless farmers, reducing inequality and poverty in rural areas.
  2. Improved Credit Access: Initiatives like Kisan Credit Cards have enhanced farmers’ access to credit, boosting their purchasing power and stimulating rural economies.
  3. Promotion of Farmer Cooperatives: The establishment of AMUL (Anand Milk Union Limited) as a cooperative model has empowered farmers, ensuring fair prices and market access.
  4. Agricultural Insurance: The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) offers insurance against crop failures, providing economic stability to farmers.
  5. Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT): Schemes like PM-KISAN provide direct financial support to farmers, enhancing their economic status and reducing reliance on informal credit.
  6. Rural Infrastructure Development: Programs like the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) have improved rural infrastructure, facilitating better market access and socio-economic growth.

 

Agrarian Reforms serves as a Pivotal tool for  Agricultural Modernization

  1. Green Revolution: Introduced in the 1960s, it transformed India’s agriculture through high-yield crops and advanced farming techniques, significantly increasing food production.
  2. Water Management: Initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana focus on efficient water use, and improving irrigation and crop yields.
  3. Technological Advancements: The introduction of digital technologies through the Digital India movement enhances agricultural practices and information access.
  4. Crop Diversification: Government schemes promote diversification into high-value crops, reducing dependency on traditional crops and increasing income.
  5. Organic Farming: The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana encourages organic farming, reducing chemical usage and promoting sustainable agriculture.
  6. Skill Development: Programs like Skill India Mission provide agricultural training, enhancing farming skills and modernizing agricultural practices.

 

Government Initiatives:

InitiativeDescription
National Mission on Sustainable AgricultureAims to promote sustainable agriculture practices, and enhance soil health, and water efficiency.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)Promotes organic farming and supports farmers in adopting traditional farming methods.
Submission on AgroForestry (SMAF)Encourages the integration of trees into farming systems to enhance productivity and sustainability.
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas YojanaFocuses on improving agricultural productivity and ensuring the development of the agricultural sector.
AgriStackDigital platform to provide comprehensive information and services to farmers for better decision-making.
National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A)Aims to improve the efficiency and transparency of agricultural services through digital technology.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman NidhiProvides financial assistance to farmers in the form of direct income support.
Agriculture Infrastructure FundFacilitates the creation of agricultural infrastructure to improve productivity and competitiveness.
World’s largest grain storage planThe plan aims to transform Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) into Multi-Service Societies. The pilot project, implemented in 11 states, focuses on creating agricultural infrastructure at the PACS level, including warehouses and processing units, through various government schemes.

 

 

The potential of AI in Agricultural Reforms:

  1. Precision Farming: AI algorithms can analyze soil data, weather patterns, and crop health to tailor fertilizer and water application, maximizing yields and minimizing waste.
  2. Pest and Disease Control: AI-powered drones can survey fields, identify early signs of infestations, and recommend targeted interventions, reducing crop losses and reliance on harmful pesticides.
  3. Market Analytics: AI can analyze market trends and predict prices, helping farmers choose the right crops and negotiate better deals, leading to improved income and reduced vulnerability.
  4. Automation and Labor Efficiency: AI-powered robots can handle tedious tasks like weeding and harvesting, freeing up valuable time for farmers to focus on other aspects of their operations and potentially alleviating the labour shortage in agriculture.
  5. Climate Resilience: AI models can predict weather patterns and advise farmers on adaptation strategies, making agriculture more resilient to climate change and extreme weather events.

 

Way Forward and Conclusion 

To revitalize India’s agriculture sector, several measures can be adopted. Implementing agroecological intensification methods like permaculture and regenerative agriculture can enhance biodiversity and resilience. Establishing agricultural innovation clusters fosters collaboration among research institutions, startups, and farmers. Drone-based precision agriculture improves efficiency and reduces resource wastage. Genetic editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas9 offer precise crop improvements. Public-private partnerships in agricultural extension services can provide localized support. Developing agri-logistics and cold chain infrastructure minimizes post-harvest losses. A model agricultural policy can guide sustainable practices and empower farmers. Placing agriculture marketing in the Concurrent list and forming an inter-ministerial committee can ensure better oversight and responsiveness to market dynamics.

  

Insta Links: 

  

Mains Links:

How is science interwoven deeply with our lives? What are the striking changes in agriculture triggered by science-based technologies? (USPC 2020)

Given the vulnerability of Indian agriculture to vagaries of nature, discuss the need for crop insurance and bring out the salient features of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). (UPSC 2016)

  

Prelims links:

Under the Kisan Credit Card scheme, short-term credit support is given to farmers for which of the following purposes? (UPSC 2020)

  1. Working capital for maintenance of farm assets
  2. Purchase of combine harvesters, tractors and mini trucks
  3. Consumption requirements of farm households
  4. Post-harvest expenses
  5. Construction of family house and setting up of village cold storage facility

 

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1, 2 and 5 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2, 3, 4 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

Ans: (b)

 

  1. Consider the following statements: (UPSC 2017)
  2. The nation-wide ‘Soil Health Card Scheme’ aims at expanding the cultivable area under irrigation.
  3. Enabling the banks to assess the quantum of loans to be granted to farmers on the basis of soil quality.
  4. Checking the overuse of fertilizers in farmlands.

 

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

 

Ans: (b)

Source: Th