Agriculture Series – Part I

‘Agriculture’ is a hot topic for UPSC. Questions from this topic can be expected in the essay paper or any other general studies paper. Therefore, in order to cover various aspects and dimensions of this topic we bring to you a series of posts dedicated to this specific topic. We would be analysing the topic from multiple angles and at the same time provide data, quotes etc. related to the topic.

Wherever required, we will link the article with previous parts of the series. This will not only help a better understanding of the topic but also would help in revision.


1

Benefits of alternative cereals:

If Indian farmers were to switch from growing rice and wheat to ‘alternative cereals,’ such as maize, sorghum, and millet, it could reduce the demand for irrigation water by 33%. This could also improve nutritional availability to consumers.

As per the associated research, rice is the least water-efficient cereal when it came to producing nutrients, and was the main driver in increasing irrigation stresses. Replacing rice with maize, finger millet, pearl millet, or sorghum could save irrigation and improving production of nutrients such as iron by 27% and zinc by 13%.

Alternative cereal production can help distribute nutrient production across the country and reduce the impact of a single local climate shock to national grain production.

Source: The Hindu


2

Summary of farmers welfare schemes:

The Government has rolled out a number of new initiatives like Soil Health Card Scheme, Neem Coated Urea, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Interest Subvention Scheme.  These schemes are for the benefit of all farmers. The details of the schemes are as below:

  1. Soil health card scheme: Launched in 2015, the scheme has been introduced to assist State Governments to issue Soil Health Cards to all farmers in the country.  The Soil Health Cards provide information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil alongwith recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.
  2. Neem coated Urea: Scheme being promoted to regulate use of urea, enhance availability of nitrogen to the crop and reduce cost of fertilizer application.  NCU slows down the release of fertilizer and makes it available to the crop in an effective manner. The entire quantity of domestically manufactured and imported urea is now neem coated. The expected saving is 10% of urea consumption, thereby resulting in reduced cost of cultivation and improved soil health management.
  3. Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana: Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana is being implemented with a view to promote organic farming in the country.  This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer so as to realise premium prices.
  4. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY): Launched on 1st July, 2015 with the motto of ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’, the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) is being implemented to expand cultivated area with assured irrigation, reduce wastage of water and improve water use efficiency. PMKSY not only focuses on creating sources for assured irrigation, but also creating protective irrigation by harnessing rain water at micro level through ‘Jal Sanchay’ and ‘Jal Sinchan’.  Micro irrigation is also incentivized through subsidy to ensure ‘Per drop-More crop’.
  5. National Agriculture Market (e-NAM): The National Agriculture Market scheme (e-NAM) envisages initiation of e-marketing platform at national level and to support creation of infrastructure to enable e-marketing. This innovative market process is revolutionizing agri markets by ensuring better price discovery, bringing in transparency and competition to enable farmers to get improved remuneration for their produce moving towards ‘One Nation One Market’.
  6. Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)/ Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS)Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) & Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) were launched from Kharif 2016 to provide comprehensive crop insurance coverage from pre-sowing to post harvest losses against non-preventable natural risks.  These schemes are only risk mitigation tools available to farmers at extremely low premium rates payable by farmers at 2% for Kharif crops, 1.5% for Rabi Crop and 5% for annual commercial/horticultural crops.  The balance of actuarial premium is shared by the Central and State Governments on 50 : 50 basis.  The schemes are voluntary for States and available in areas and crops that are notified by the State Governments.    Further, the schemes are compulsory for loanee farmers and voluntary for non-loanee farmers.
  7. Interest Subvention Scheme: The Government provides interest subvention of 3% on short-term crop loans up to Rs.3.00 lakh.  Presently, loan is available to farmers at an interest rate of 7% per annum, which gets reduced to 4% on prompt repayment.  Further, under Interest Subvention Scheme 2016-17, in order to provide relief to the farmers on occurrence of natural calamities, the interest subvention of 2% shall continue to be available to banks for the first year on the restructured amount. In order to discourage distress sale by farmers and to encourage them to store their produce in warehouses against negotiable warehouse receipts, the benefit of interest subvention will be available to small and marginal farmers having Kisan Credit Card for a further period of upto six months post harvest on the same rate as available to crop loan.

Source: PIB