6 Challenges to Combat Kharif 2017
India has attained an estimated record production of about 272 million metric tonnes in foodgrains and 33.6 million tonnes oilseeds. Pulses production is very encouraging. To keep the momentum on, a Kharif campaign 2017 is expected to rope in all States f
Capitalising good monsoon, India attained record Kharif production in 2016 and production estimates are very encouraging for 2017 as well. Prediction of a near normal monsoon has brought smile on the faces of the farmers. The government has once again geared up to keep the momentum on with effective implementation of several schemes and roped in the states to stragetise proper availability of inputs and other facilities to the farmers.
The Kharif season has began, therefore, it is imperative for the state governments to make plans to procure high-quality seeds of several types of crops and fertilisers for the farmers. The state governments should ensure that there is no scarcity of inputs during the cropping season.
1. Maintaining Higher Production Targets
It was indeed combined efforts of the Central and State Governments that resulted in attaining an estimated record production of about 272 million metric tonnes in foodgrains and 33.6 million
tonnes oilseeds. Pulses production jumped remarkably. According to the Second Advance Estimates of the Agriculture Ministry, pulses production was estimated at a record breaking 22.14 million metric tonnes. First stage forecast of the South West monsoon during Kharif 2017 has certainly added fuel to the fire and the Centre promptly exhorted the States to make all necessary arrangements of agricultural inputs for the farmers.
The Centre is making all efforts to fulfill its commitment to double the income of farmers by the year 2022 and several initiatives have been taken by the Centre towards this end. A roadmap has been prepared to scale up pulses production to 24 MMTs by 2021. Focus is also on achieving the target of delivery of soil health cards to all farmers and the first phase is expected to be completed by June-end. According to a senior official of the Ministry the second cycle of the Soil Health Card scheme will commence in May 2017.
2. Efficacy of Schemes
The government has launched various schemes for the farmers. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Management, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, E-Nam, Agroforestry (Medh Par Ped) and Neem coated Urea to name a few.
The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and Irrigation schemes are likely to be the game changer. It is expected that with higher and adequate allocations for the current year, the States will further expand the coverage. Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan, on several occasions including a recently held national conference on Kharif Campaign encouraged States to implement the Paramparagat Krishi Yojana in a mission mode to promote organic farming, particularly in the rainfed and hilly areas. He also reiterated the need to introduce marketing reforms in agriculture sector to enable farmers a better price realisation.
The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana was launched from Kharif, 2016. Under this new scheme, comprehensive risk coverage from pre-sowing to post-harvest losses has been provided. Now the States need to leverage technology in the implementation of the scheme and achieve the targets for insurance
coverage of 40 percent and 50 percent of the total cropped area/ farmers during 2017-18 and 201920 respectively. It was absolutely imperative that all flagship schemes of the Centre are given the highest priority to bring about material improvements in the lives of the farmers.
Agriculture Secretary, Shobhana K. Pattanayak pointed out the multi-pronged strategy needed to double farmers’ income by 2022. For funding the sector through Rural Infrastructure Development Fund or Dedicated Irrigation fund under NABARD, he said, “The Centre will go by the choices of the States and the way they want to get and utilise the fund. The states should take initiatives to reduce cost of production, bridging the yield gaps in productivity and ensuring better price realisation for the farmers.”
While emphasising on the necessity for adoption of technology, he assured the States “We ( the Centre) will go by your mind.”
3. Kharif Campaign 2017 & the States
The centre is giving priority to agriculture sector by allocating maximum funds for the farmers’ welfare. Inaugurating a National Conference on Agriculture for Kharif Campaign-2017 Singh said, “The government aims at increasing the agriculture production, determining productivity and boosting dairy/ livestock/fisheries while promoting agriculture education, research and extension organisation.”
Discussion at the conference was centred on last year’s agricultural production, how to increase the production of the coming Kharif crop, raising agricultural productivity in consultation with the state governments, ensuring the availability of inputs before the cropping season, implementation of technology and new innovations in the agriculture sector. The Agriculture Ministry has written letters to the state governments urging them to strategise and work on it. While strategising, the state governments will have to closely monitor agricultural production and agricultural products processing activities.
The 2nd advance estimates predict about 271.98 MT production of food grain, which is
Radha Mohan Singh Union Agriculture Minister The government aims at increasing the agricultural production, determining productivity and boosting dairy, livestock, fisheries while promoting agriculture education, research and extension
8.11 percent higher as compared to the year 2015-16. The production of the foodgrains is 5.82 percent more than the last five years’ average production. There was a record foodgrains production in 2013-14, however, this year’s yield was 2.61 percent higher as compared to 2013-14.
4. The NFSM
The National Food Security Mission (NFSM), one of the most important schemes of the agriculture ministry covers rice, wheat, pulses, cereals and other main crops. Before the current government came to the power, NFSM was being implemented in 482 districts of 19 states. When the NDA government came to the power, the implementation of NFSM was extended to 638 districts of 29 states. Apart from that, 2.70 lakh hectare area is being used for organic farming. While ensuring the overall growth of agriculture and allied sectors, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana or RKVY’s aims at achieving annual growth and maintaining the same during the 12th Plan.
India needs to focus on the production and productivity of oilseeds and equal attention should be given to the fruits, vegetables and horticulture.
The government is also focusing on quality and availability of seeds. National Seed Mission provides grants for seed processing, seed storage, improving the quality of seeds and storing of seeds for the emergency.
5. NABARD : Expanding Coverage
Irrigation remains a major challenge. the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) has disbursed Rs 9,000 crore to finance long term irrigation projects particularly to projects where work was still in progress. For FY18, Nabard plans to increase its lending to over Rs 10 lakh crore. It will also refinance between Rs 7,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore through a government owned special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). The government has earmarked Rs 3,500 crore as capital for Nabard in FY’18 versus Rs 1,400 crore last year.
With the government initiating several steps on the rural front, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) is getting ready to raise around Rs 60,000 crore from the market, almost 50 per cent more than last year. Nabard chairman Harsh Kumar Bhanwala said the longterm irrigation fund has been augmented by Rs 20,000 crore taking the corpus to Rs 40,000 crore. An allocation of Rs 5,000 crore has been made for setting up a dedicated fund for enhancing irrigation efficiency which will bring us closer to the ‘More crop per drop’ idea.
“Out of Rs 20,000 crore earmarked for the current year, we have already disbursed Rs 5,600 crore. By the year end, probably we will be able to lend around Rs 11,000 crore. This is based on the projects in the states. This is being monitored on mission mode by Niti Aayog and Ministry of Water Resources. It is a milestone-based funding. We will not disburse the next amount unless the earlier fund has been utilised,” he added.
6. Pricing is the key
To safeguard the farmers’ interest, it is absolutely imperative that they get a fair price for their produce. The government is trying to safeguard farmers’ interest by announcing a minimum support price for main agricultural commodities. The thrust of the policy is to create a balanced and integrated structure to meet the overall needs of the economy. To support the prices, central nodal agencies such as FCI, CCI, JCI, NAFED, SFAC etc. start procurement process to ensure that the market price doesn't slip below the MSP fixed by the
Shobhana K. Pattanayak Agriculture Secretary, GoI The Centre will go by the choices of the states. The states should take initiatives to reduce cost of production, bridging the yield gaps in productivity and ensuring better prices for the farmers
government. In case the market price of the commodity falls below the announced minimum price, govt agencies intervenes under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) and procures the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced minimum price. During the period of 2014-15 to 2016-17, Indian government procured chilli, apple, ginger, potato, oil palm, grapes, onion betelnut, etc from the farmers of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. Any sharp rise or fall in prices not only causes harm to consumers but farmers too. To mitigate volatility in the prices of agricultural produce, a Price Stabilisation Fund of Rs.500 Crore for agricultural commodities was announced, which has been now increased to Rs.1500 crore. To control the rising pulses price, 40,000 metric tonne pulses have been distributed to the States at their behest and meanwhile, the government is creating a buffer stock of 20 lakh metric tonne pulses. Simultaneously government is procuring 20,000 metric tonne onion for buffer stock.
To ensure that the farmers avail the benefits of Fasal Bima Yojana, the government launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana from 2016 Kharif season after improvising the earlier insurance scheme. The insurance is vast and covers the pre-sowing to postharvest losses.
The Way Forward
The States need to make efforts for the smooth and timely implementation of all the schemes so that the farmers get the funds on time to start their work. Agriculture requires long-term soil health. It requires investments. On the public part of agriculture, there’s significant thrust. With this investments, irrigation is priority for the government. Irrigation Efficiency Fund would certainly go a long way to develop agriculture infrastructure in the country.
Expanding farm credit coverage remains a challenge. Apart from lending from banks, cooperative institutions and rural banks, the institutions such as Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) need to be strengthen. They are in bad shape. One of the limitations of PACS is that they are not computerised.
It is promising to note that Rs 1,900 crore has been allocated for the strengthening of PACS in the current fiscal year. With adequate funds, PACS can adopt modern technologies to be more efficient in helping the farmers. The States also need to be proactive in this regard and should bear the burden of their share. If provided the required tech support in the form of computers and web connectivity, PACS hold a huge potential for being a game changer in the financial inclusion space.
Harsh Kumar Bhanwala Chairman, NABARD The long-term irrigation fund has been augmented by Rs 20,000 crore taking the corpus to Rs 40,000 crore. An allocation of Rs 5,000 crore has been made for setting up a fund for enhancing irrigation efficiency
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh (Centre) launching the Kharif Campaign 2017