[Answered] While Centre aims to double farmers’ income by 2022, a NABARD survey shows high levels of inter-State income inequality among agricultural households. In light of this discuss various issues faced by farmers in India. Suggest some measures to resolve these issues.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Give a contextual Introduction.
Body. Discuss issues faced by Indian farmers.
Conclusion. Way forward and solutions.

Historically, India has been an agrarian country. The Green Revolution after independence resulted in an increase in production of food grains, especially wheat and paddy. However, the improvements in agriculture did not sustain much longer. The crisis we see today was building for decades, and farming has lost the joy and has become a source of income for those who cannot opt for any other means to earn. Indian farmers are facing a variety of issues which need urgent attention.

What are the various issues faced by Indian farmers?

  1. Fragmented and small land holdings– Indian landholdings are so small that makes little marketable surplus. This makes them to go for subsistence agriculture and also difficult for mechanisation. Also due to more number of family members after independence, land was divided into smaller pieces leading to fragmentation. Cultivation on such a small area is not economically feasible. Such small farmers have become vulnerable. In some cases, the farmers are not the owners of the land, which makes profitable cultivation impossible because significant portion of the earnings go towards the payment of lease for the land owner.
  2. Unaffordable good quality Seeds– Seed is a critical and basic input for attaining higher crop yields and sustained growth in agricultural production. Distribution of assured quality seed is as critical as the production of such seeds. Unfortunately, good quality seeds are out of reach of the majority of farmers, especially small and marginal farmers mainly because of exorbitant prices of better seeds.
  3. Low average yield– Indian soils have been used for growing crops over thousands of years without caring much for replenishing. This has led to depletion and exhaustion of soils resulting in their low productivity. The average yields of almost all the crops are among lowest in the world. This is a serious problem which can be solved by using more manures and fertilisers.
  4. Irrigation– Although India is the second largest irrigated country of the world after China, only one-third of the cropped area is under irrigation. Irrigation is the most important agricultural input in a tropical monsoon country like India where rainfall is uncertain, unreliable and erratic India cannot achieve sustained progress in agriculture unless and until more than half of the cropped area is brought under assured irrigation.
  5. Lack of mechanisation– In spite of the large scale mechanisation of agriculture in some parts of the country, most of the agricultural operations in larger parts are carried on by human hand using simple and conventional tools and implements like wooden plough, sickle, etc. This lead to lesser productivity.
  6. Agricultural Marketing– Agricultural marketing still continues to be in a bad shape in rural India. In the absence of sound marketing facilities, the farmers have to depend upon local traders and middlemen for the disposal of their farm produce which is sold at throw-away price. Most of the farmers are left with small volume of produce. Taking them to Government mandi will be a burden as transportation costs, storage costs adds up. So they sell it to middle men at distress price. The middlemen will make it to Mandi and get lucrative prices that is often not shared with farmers.
  7. Scarcity of capital– Agriculture is an important industry and like all other industries it also requires capital. The role of capital input is becoming more and more important with the advancement of farm technology. Since the agriculturists’ capital is locked up in his lands, he is obliged to borrow money.
  8. Unreliable Monsoon– Indian Monsoon is always a gamble. If it’s doesn’t rain farmers will be worst hit of drought and famine. Excessive rain may destroy farmer’s crop or he would not get good price due to high supply in Market due to over production. This happens in 2017, where prices of Onion, Pulses went down due to good production after two years of below normal Monsoon. Lesser rain lead to low productivity and hence lesser income.
  9. Social Problems– Indian farmers get birth in debt, live in debt & died in debt. This is the important social problem in our country. General causes of social problems :
    • Drought & Natural calamities.
    • Totally depend on agriculture.
    • Lack of supplementary side business.
    • Traditional method of agriculture & lack of updates knowledge.
    • Conflict, dispute among family members.
    • Unwanted activities & expenditure on modern life style.
  10. Unorganised agriculture– No systematic institutional & organisational planning in cultivation, irrigation harvesting & marketing. Minimum purchase price fixed by the government do not reach to the poorest farmers.
  11. Literacy & opposition to developments– Most of the marginal farmers are illiterate. Therefore he find difficult to learn about new techniques. Similarly, farmers are superstitious, traditional & not easily accept challenges & inventions. This culture called as a poverty of culture.
  12. Poor Government program penetration– Government Initiative and programs does not reach up to many farmers. Government has implemented agricultural debt waiver, debt relief scheme etc. Most of the subsides & welfare schemes announced by the central & state government do not reach up to poor farmers. On the contrary, only big land holders are benefited by these schemes.
  13. New threats of Climate Change– Noted agricultural scientist, M S Swaminathan already pointed out that the one degree Celsius rise in temperature could lead to wheat yield losses of around 6 million tonnes per year in India. He also insisted that increase in temperature not only affects the grain output but is also critical in terms of grain filling and pest attack. Read more about Climate change and Agrarian distress in India that goes in length and breadth about the issue.

Some Measures to improver condition of farmers in India:

  1. Processing industries and cold storage facility– Today 90% farmers want processing unit and cold storage facility in the villages, especially for vegetables and fruits. So that farmers will get proper marketing & rates. This will reduce middlemen exploitation. Government should incentivise industry to open food processing units and cold storage facility near villages.
  2. Irrigation facilities– Small land farmers are unable to arrange irrigation systems. They need proper irrigation. So government should have to take initiative for providing irrigation to the small land owners.
  3. Education to farmers– Many farmers are not aware about crop rotation. Though education in urban areas has improved a lot , the government has ignored the same in rural areas in general & in agriculture sector. So Government agencies should start efficient mechanism in this regard.
  4. Need for better water management– Currently available irrigation facility do not cover the entire cultivable land. In most cases, it is not the lack of water but lack of proper water management that causes water shortage. Improved modern methods of rain water harvesting should be developed. Surplus water from perennial rivers can be diverted to the needy areas. Connecting the rivers throughout the country will solve this problem. Construction of national waterways will improve the irrigation facility, which in turn can save the farmers, if the monsoon would fail.
  5. Developing alternate source of income for farmers :- The Government should take up the responsibility for providing training to the farmers to acquire new skills to reduce the dependence on agriculture. New areas like horticulture, aquaculture, fishery should also be promoted.
  6. Sustainable farming methods– Organic farming is the way out for sustainable farming. Organic certification process should be more faster. Precision farming helps to get out of drought adversities by targeted input delivery. It requires minimum input and also reduces cost of production. Already Micro-irrigations are helping rained farmers in drought conditions. These methods should be promoted.
  7. Women support– Women farmers don’t enjoy entitlement to their land. GoI is in process of digitisation of land records. In that process women farmers of that family can also be done to get their Rights. Further smart farm tools and machineries must be gender neutral in its accessibility.
  8. Climate Resilience farming (CRF)– It depends mostly on technological tools like smart weather forecast using Big data analytics. Plant biotechnology by developing short duration varieties, submerged crop varieties for coastal regions, drought resistant varieties for arid areas can further promote CRF.

Huge R&D investment is required for development of smart and technological solutions to Agricultural problems of Indian . Advocating use of Drones and smart phones to assess crop failures in PM fasal bima yojna crop insurance scheme , e NAM are few Policy initiatives. But there is huge scope for government to solve farmers problems by technological solution.

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