What has happened?
- Rate of growth in agriculture and allied activities is down from 4% per annum in the 11th plan period to 1.7% per annum in the first three years of 12th
- Over 3,00,000 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the last decade. Over 2000 such cases have been reported last year in Maharastra alone
- India is currently reeling under the impact of successive droughts with 302 districts declared drought hit
- 55% of cultivated area still has no access to irrigation
- According to national sample survey(NSS), 2011-12 36 illion workers have shifted from agriculture to non-agricultural sectors. As a result, share of agriculture in the total workforce has fallen below the 50% mark for the first time after Independence.
- Economic survey 2014-15 shows employment growth(1.40%) has lagged behind labour force growth(2.23%)
All of these above points have pushed the already precarious lives of smallholder farmers and agricultural labourers to the brink, leading to massive rural distress.
World Bank’s “world development report” 2008 shows that agricultural growth is twice as effective in reducing poverty compared to growth in non-agricultural sectors.
- Public Investment – indian agriculture is primarily rain fed. Hence, investment in irrigation, watershed projects and MGNREGA must be converged into one framework to fight droughts and its consequences.
- Reframing fertilizer subsidy regime – current fertilizer subsidy has led to the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and poor organic matter incorporation that has eroded the soil health in India. Non Pesticidal Management(NPM) needs to be promoted.
- Crop Diversification – needs to be promoted in order to ensure country’s food security. Pulses and millets form primary source of protein for the poor. Decentralised procurement of pulses and millets in states where they constitute major share of cropped area as MSP(minimum support price) has been beyond the reach of most farmers growing pulses and millets.
- Agricultural Research– public expenditure on agricultural research is only 0.7% of agricultural GDP. This must be raised to 3-4 times. Climate resilient cropping system must be developed.
- Agricultural Technology Management Agency(ATMA) and Krishi Vigyan Kendras must be energized
- Rural non-farm sector must be developed for more employment generation. E.g.agro-processing and value addition to agricultural produce offer huge scope for local employment.