Agriculture the Road Ahead (Yojana 2021) (Download PDF)

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Agriculture the Road Ahead

  • Bulk of the population engaged in crop agriculture and allied fields.
  • India has 1.3 billion people or approximately 17.9 % of the global population which lives on 2.4 % land and 5 % water resources of the world.
  • India ranks second in the world in agriculture production with 11 % of total global agriculture.
  • Leading producer of:
    • Food grains
    • Cotton
    • Cane
    • Horticultural crops
    • Dairy
    • Poultry
    • Aquaculture and spices
  • Agriculture production in 2019 was valued at USD 459 billion.
  • Agriculture GDP rose from USD 101 billion in 2001 to USD 459 billion in the recent years.
  • Workforce declined from 60 % in 2000 to 42 % in 2019 as the economy grew.

Agricultural production has been ever increasing touching new heights:

  • Food grains 297 MT horticulture
  • Cotton 37 million bales of 170 kg each
  • Milk 199 MT
  • Fish 13 MT
  • Poultry 4 MT
  • 103 billion egg production

Future Challenges

  • The growing population poses a challenge to food and nutritional securities.
  • There is a pressure on land due to urbanization, improved standard of living, changed food habits, etc. , generating great demand for diversified agricultural commodities.
  • Declining soil health.
  • Low nutrient content.
  • Occurrence of new biotic stresses.
  • Frequent droughts and floods due to climate change.
  • Erratic rainfall as nearly 62 % cultivated land is rain-fed.
  • Farmers are unable to get sufficient returns of their produce and hence being driven to poverty.
  • To meet the challenges the country must prepare for increasing land productivity by 3 times and labor output by 6 times.
  • Use of low carbon emission technology.

UNICEF

  • India was at 10th spot among countries with highest number of underweight children.
  • At 17th position for highest number of stunted children in world in 2019.
Underweight Children in India

The Road Ahead

Technology Innovation

  • Globally agriculture sciences are experiencing series of innovations.
  • Development of technologies that could mitigate the effects of climate change, better the yields, reduce the effects of salinity, drought, flooding, and biotic stresses, etc.
  • Many crops have been improved through genomics assisted breeding, transgenics, and now through the CRISPR-CaS 9 technology.
  • Several molecular breeding products have been commercialized.
  • Farmers are taking advantage of molecular breeding in rice, maize, wheat, chickpea, and groundnut.
  • Cotton the first biotic crop has brought the Indian cotton production at the top level in the world.

Important for mitigating the challenges of future agriculture:

  • Refining integrated crop management.
  • Systems like resource conservation.
  • Innovations in irrigation application.
  • Sustainable intensification.
  • Prevention of post-harvest losses.
  • New crop protection techniques.
  • Modern communication tools including social media.
  • ICT for updating farmers in rural areas.

Investment in Research and Development

  • Internal rate of return on investment in agricultural research is estimated to be more than 42 % much higher than any other sector.
  • Naturally strengthening research and development and innovations to create new technologies.
  • Series of policy changes needed to give emphasis on technology and skill intensive agriculture.
  • Suitable policy reforms will certainly act as the confidential building mechanism amongst all the stakeholders of agriculture.

Policy Options

  • Legislation of three major bills.
    • Farmers Produce and Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020 (Trade and Commerce Act) .
    • Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance
    • Farm Services Act, 2020 (Contract Farming Act) .
  • Necessary amendments to the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
  • Farmers are now free to from the designated markets and can sale their produce anywhere to get the maximum price.
  • The govt. restricts the scientists from commercializing their product through the genetic engineering technologies.
  • There is a need to alter the policies from input intensive to technology and skill intensive modes.

The Contract Farming Act

  • Provides for them to enter into agreements with companies, retailers, Agri firms, etc.
  • They can produce the crop for an agreed price so the current volatility in market will not affect the prices that the farmers are entitled to as per the contract.

Epilogue

  • Need to step up production of many commodities by around 30 % to feed the expected 1.7 billion people by 2050.
  • Naturally strengthening research and development and innovations to create new technologies will be an important step for Indian agriculture.
  • Series of policy changes needed to give emphasis on technology and skill-intensive agriculture.

- Published/Last Modified on: May 17, 2021

Science/Technology, Health, Agriculture/Agro Industries, Yojana

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