Dou­bling farm in­come

The fo­cus has to be on how the land can be made more pro­duc­tive and how the farmer can achieve more crop per drop

Gfiles - - GOVERNANCE - The writer is Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent, ITC Ltd. The views ex­pressed are per­sonal.

THE Prime Min­is­ter of In­dia has rightly made a clar­ion call to all those en­gaged in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor to fo­cus their en­ergy and ef­forts on dou­bling farmer’s in­come. To my mind, there can be no two-ways about this, it is in­deed the most im­por­tant and crit­i­cal area if In­dia is to achieve the sta­tus of a de­vel­oped na­tion. In­dia has a pop­u­la­tion of 1.34 bil­lion (2017) and ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial cen­sus fig­ures of 2011, 83.37 crore (68.84 per cent) live in ru­ral ar­eas while 37.71 crore live in ur­ban ar­eas. De­spite ur­ban­i­sa­tion, ru­ral mar­kets still ac­count for half of In­dia’s Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct (GDP), which is es­ti­mated to be $2.848 tril­lion (nom­i­nal) and $10.385 tril­lion (PPP) for the year 2018. The con­tri­bu­tion of agri­cul­ture to GDP is 17.32 per cent, in­dus­try 29.02 per cent and ser­vices 53.66 per cent. Dou­bling of farmer’s in­come doesn’t mean that the farm­ers are paid dou­ble the price for their pro­duce or their yield has to dou­ble, it means that this has to be in­creased us­ing mul­ti­ple ways which will re­sult in bet­ter util­i­sa­tion of re­sources that are at the farmer’s dis­posal. Fo­cus has to be on how the land can be made more pro­duc­tive and how the farmer can achieve more crop per drop, which is ba­si­cally less wa­ter more yield that can be achieved through meth­ods like drip ir­ri­ga­tion. En­cour­ag­ing and pro­mot­ing no-till farm­ing also called zero tillage will in­crease the amount of wa­ter in the soil, make the soil more fer­tile and re­silient and also halt soil ero­sion. In ad­di­tion, var­i­ous pri­vate-pub­lic agen­cies have to de­velop in­fra­struc­ture to fa­cil­i­tate credit along with pro­vid­ing equip­ment on hire. This equip­ment must be eas­ily avail­able and modern so that the farmer can ex­tract the max­i­mum ben­e­fit from his lim­ited re­sources. Here, it is per­ti­nent to state that many farm­ers are not rich and don’t have the ca­pa­bil­ity to buy equip­ment. This re­sults in a vi­cious cy­cle, where they have to take loan thereby get­ting caught in a debt trap. In 2014, the Na­tional Crime Records Bureau of In­dia re­ported 5,650 farmer sui­cides. The high- est farmer sui­cide was recorded in 2004 (18,241). This rate has ranged be­tween 1.4 to 1.8 per 100,000 to­tal pop­u­la­tion, over a 10-year pe­riod through 2005. Multi-crop­ping in an­other sure shot way of boost­ing farmer’s in­come. It in­cludes dif­fer­ent types like in­ter-crop­ping (where the farmer grows two or more crops in the same field in a year, a clas­sic ex­am­ple is sug­ar­cane along with oilseeds, also called com­pan­ion crops), mixed crop­ping (where two or more crops are grown si­mul­ta­ne­ously in the same field and at the same time, (here crops that have same sow­ing and har­vest­ing

times are cho­sen), re­lay crop­ping (here the farmer grows two or more crops in the same field and they en­joy the as­so­ci­a­tion of each other for a pe­riod of time). Cash crop farm­ing also called com­mer­cial farm­ing has mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits for the farmer and can be an­other op­tion that can bol­ster farmer in­come. It has the po­ten­tial to max­imise the farmer’s prof­its, pro­mote eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and also earn rev­enue for the gov­ern­ment. Cot­ton, jute, tea, to­bacco, cof­fee and oilseeds all have tremen­dous po­ten­tial and this needs to be looked at as a top pri­or­ity, es­pe­cially as most farm­ers in In­dia have small tracts of land and are look­ing to get the max­i­mum out of them. Hor­ti­cul­ture (fruits, veg­eta­bles, spices and plan­ta­tion crops), is an­other use­ful ac­tiv­ity that is yet to achieve its true po­ten­tial. Though In­dia is head­ing in the right di­rec­tion with the agri­cul­ture min­istry in its ad­vance es­ti­mate for 201718 putting the to­tal pro­duc­tion at 305.4 mil­lion tonnes, nearly 5 mil­lion tonnes more than 2016-17.

BEE­KEEP­ING has been pointed out by the Prime Min­is­ter as an­other way of con­tribut­ing to­wards dou­bling farmer’s in­come. Since co­op­er­a­tives are mainly present in the su­gar and dairy sec­tors, there is a need to ex­plore new sec­tors like bee­keep­ing through which the farm­ers could bring about a ` Sweet Revo­lu­tion’ to the co­op­er­a­tive move­ment. In­dia pro­duces 7,000 mil­lion tonnes of honey a year, out of which 50 per cent is ex­ported an­nu­ally. How­ever, de­clin­ing bee pop­u­la­tion is a mat­ter of grave con­cern for sci­en­tists in In­dia. Nev­er­the­less, more and more farm­ers need to be in­formed and ed­u­cated about the ben­e­fits of bee­keep­ing as this will re­sult in greater pro­duc­tion of honey which has an ever in­creas­ing mar­ket and will con­trib­ute in en­hanc­ing farmer’s in­come. The farmer also has to be taught on how the an­i­mals (cat­tle, goat, sheep) at his dis­posal can be made more pro­duc­tive (through su­pe­rior an­i­mal hus­bandry tech­niques) and the gov­ern­ment needs to en­sure that mar­kets are cre­ated for the sur­plus that is gen­er­ated from the ad­di­tional yields from the an­i­mals. While in­creas­ing food pro­duc­tion through var­i­ous means is one as­pect, food wastage is an­other area we can­not af­ford to ig­nore. In In­dia, 62,000 tonnes of food­grains, mainly rice and wheat, have been dam­aged in the godowns of the Food Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia (FCI) over the past six years. Only 10 per cent of the foods get cold stor­age fa­cil­ity in our coun­try. There­fore, to max­imise the pro­duce of the farmer, it is crit­i­cal that cold chain fa­cil­i­ties and food pro­cess­ing in­dus­try are fo­cused on a pri­or­ity ba­sis as this will re­duce wastage and en­hance food value. There should sim­ply be ` no tax’ on food, ir­re­spec­tive of whether it is pro­cessed, sold through modern re­tail or the pre­dom­i­nantly un­or­gan­ised chan­nels. Ad­di­tion­ally, more and more peo­ple should be en­cour­aged to in­vest in cre­at­ing in­fra­struc­ture in food pro­cess­ing so that the pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties are within reach of the max­i­mum num­ber of farm­ers. We should also not fo­cus on very large pro­cess­ing units, the aim should be to have small and medium scale pro­cess­ing units and in large num­bers. I have no doubt that the sev­eral ini­tia­tives taken by the Gov­ern­ment will fi­nally de­liver on the ob­jec­tives set out by the Prime Min­is­ter and the farm­ers will see pros­per­ity in the com­ing years.

To max­imise the pro­duce of the farmer, it is crit­i­cal that cold chain fa­cil­i­ties and food pro­cess­ing in­dus­try are fo­cused on a pri­or­ity ba­sis as this will re­duce wastage and en­hance food value

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.