Practice Question – Judicious use of seeds and fertilizers is important to ensure increase in productivity in agriculture. What are the associated problems? Suggest remedial measures. – 250 words.

Replacement of Seeds– Ideally, seeds must be replaced every year for hybrid and every three years for non-hybrid varieties. In the former case, the optimum seed replacement rate (SRR) is 1 and in the latter case 33%. In India, seeds are replaced at rates below the optimum, especially in self-pollinated crops such as rice, wheat,pulses and oil seeds.

To bring the rate to the optimum: –

  • There is a need to enhance seed-research capacity as well as multiply stations.
  • Encourage private sector participation in seed production and distribution by removing the price control order of seed and other restrictions discouraging private investment in the seed sector.
  • A robust third party quality certification system for seeds should be encouraged.

Judicious and optimum use of fertilisers – Fertilisers supply three critical elements: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K). A common belief is that ideal mix of N, P and K is in ratio 4:2:1. While this may be an average,the actual optimum ratio and level of fertiliser use depends on soil and crop type and the amount of water used. This is why soil cards are important for customizing fertiliser use. Because urea is heavily subsidized in India, on average, there has been a tendency to overuse it. But it is important to remember that there is wide variation across regions with a study by the National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy pointing out that as many as two thirds of the largest 18 states use urea in below optimum quantity. There is need to create awareness of the optimal nutrient mix and optimal level of fertiliser use among farmers. The soil health card can be a good vehicle for accomplishing this objective.

Source: NITI AAYOG Three Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20.