Strategies for Rural Transformation

Dr. Banarsi Lal

Agriculture is the largest sector of the Indian economy. Presently this sector contributes 19.9 per cent to the overall Gross DomesticProduct (GDP). This sector is very important for the social security in terms of food, nutrition and employment.This sector employs the largest workforce although there is less income as compared to services and industries. The farm sector is often confronted with the crops productivity shocks. The climate change has adverse impact on the farm sector and the farmers do not get adequate support. Extreme climatic events are on the rise and there is need of strenuous efforts for the well-being of the farmers. Several reforms are needed for the technology generation and technology dissemination so that the income of the farmers can be increased.
The rising demand of food grain production and other commodities should also be kept in mind. The food grains in 2021-22 was 315. 72 million tones. With the present status of food grain production, the demand of food grains is likely to be met except some deficiency in pulses, but a major deficiency is expected in edible oils and vegetables. In order to increase the crops productivity development efforts are needed. Agricultural efficiency and occupational diversification should be promoted. Special efforts are needed to build institutions and delivery system to develop different states as the food grain bowels. The farmers should be supported to mitigate the agricultural risks by diversifying the agriculture. The government of India has started innovative solutions to mitigate the problems of farmers. Government has included better production avenues with more area under irrigation and availability of quality agro-inputs. The focus has been given on farmers’ empowerment against risks of crops failure and price fluctuation with more incentives for crops insurance and national agriculture market. The diversification of agriculture with high value organic and natural farming, livestock, fishing and traditional farming is also on top priority of the government. Kisan TV Channel was launched by the government of India to update the farmers with the latest agricultural technologies. During the last few years’ various new schemes have been launched by the government of India for the betterment of the millions of the farmers of the country.
The Government of India launched Pardhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in Kharif 2016 by replacing the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme(NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme(MNAIS). In this scheme 2 per cent premium has been fixed for the Kharif food grains,pulses and oilseed crops,1.5 per cent has been fixed for the Rabi food graincrops, pulses and oilseed crops and 5 per cent for the horticultural and commercial crops. All the states are implementing these schemes for the insurance of different crops to provide benefit to the farmers. It is hoped that this scheme will bring relief to the farmers whose crops are damaged due to the natural calamities. In India 55 per cent of the area is under rainfed conditions.
The farmers well-being can be achieved by more Crop Per Drop and Har Khet Ko Pani.Recently government has launched a scheme known as Pardhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY). The priorities have been set up for the PMKSY. Many states have started innovative practices for water conservation and harvesting.Maharashtra government has started Jayukta Shivar Scheme which channelizes the funds of Corporate Social Responsibility for the creation and restoration of water bodies. Karnataka government has increased the subsidy on micro-irrigation by toping up the central subsidy to make it 100 per cent for the drip and sprinkler systems. Gujarat government has also institutionalized a unique system of hand holding with the farmers for micro-irrigation. Various other states have also implemented many innovative practices for water conservation, water harvesting and efficient use of water.
After Green Revolution the farmers across the nation indiscriminately used the chemical fertilizers.In the early 70 s,the average proportion of N, P and K was 6:1.9:1 and in 1996 it was 10:2.9:1. With the excessive use of fertilizers the soil health has been deteriorated.Soil health card helps to inform the farmers about nutrient level of his/her farm so that he/she can make the judicious use of the fertilizers. Soil Health Card scheme is an innovative scheme for the benefit of the farmers. In order to increase the yield in rainfed areas now government is promoting organic farming and natural farming. For this purpose, government has launched two important schemes.First is Parmparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana which will bring 5 lakhs acres’ area under organic farming in three years and second is Organic Value Chain Development.
The agricultural marketing systems suffers because of various distortions in the market.These markets are not transparent and uniform across the nation.There remain some serious restrictions on the movement of agricultural commodities. Karnataka government has developed a model which integrates a number of markets into a single licensing system with a joint venture of state government agency and NCDEX spot exchange which offers automated auction and post auction facilities.
Considering this model as a base, the government has launched a scheme known as National Agricultural Market (NAM) scheme through Agri-Tech Infrastructure Fund for implementation. This scheme provides the scope for a Pan-India Electronic Trading Portal which will network selected Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees market yards to create Unified National Market for Agricultural Commodities.
The e-platform will be implemented in selected 585 regulated whole sale markets across the nation.Agricultural prices are not stabilized. Price Stabilization Fund(PSF) scheme has been launched for the procurement and distribution of perishable agriculture and horticultural commodities.
Livestock contributes 25 per cent of Gross Value Added in agriculture sector and provides employment to about 21 millions of people.It is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture. Rashtriya Gokul Mission was launched by the government in 2014-15 for the conservation of indigenous breeds.The mission envisages establishment of Integrated Cattle Development centres to develop indigenous breeds. National Kamdhenu Breeding Centres for development,conservation and preservation of indigenous breeds are being set up in India to develop and conserve indigenous breeds in holistic manner.A nucleus herd of all the indigenous bovine breeds, Mithun and Yak will be conserved and developed with the objective of enhancing their productivity and upgrading genetic merit. The centre being a repository of indigenous germ-plasm will also be source of certified germ-plasm.Elite certified germplasm for artificial insemination and natural service, heifers,male and female calves,semen doses and embryos will be made available to farmers and breeding organizations.Keeping the scope of fisheries in view the scheme on Integrated Development of Fisheries has been launched under blue revolution. It is hoped that all these schemes will bring prosperity for the farmers and help in rural transformation.