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

Rural & Marketing - - CONTENT -

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

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