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Growth plan for Agriculture sector in India

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus – GS 3 – Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing.

Synopsis- Indian agriculture sector needs infrastructure investment, linking FPO’s with the market and a diversified approach that considers state-specific issues.

Significance of Agriculture in India

  • The sector provides the highest number of employments- as it engages 42 per cent of the country’s workforce.
  • Addresses Malnutrition problem and provides food security in India.
  • Augmenting Economic Growth- The agriculture sector contributed 17-18% to the country’s GDP and d demographically the broadest economic sector. It plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India.

Therefore, the agriculture sector needs to grow not only for the farming community but also for the entire economy.

Challenge-

  • Standardized all-India agricultural strategy – There is too much diversity in the Indian state in terms of endowments, access to market opportunity, climate and weather changes, etc.

Thus, the agriculture policy should be customized on the basis of needs, vulnerabilities, and resource-base of each state

How to grow agriculture sector in India?

  1. First, Investing in agriculture infrastructure- The most sustainable way to increase farmers’ real incomes over the long term is through investments in productivity-enhancing areas, ranging from –
        • Development- Create roads, storage, transportation, railways, and many other services.
        • Irrigation facilities.
        • Agricultural research and development.
        • Development of rural and marketing infrastructure.

For example –

      1. Importance of developed Infrastructure- Bringing markets closer to farmers and improving the productivity of value chains emerged as key factors for agriculture growth in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
      2. Access to irrigation- States like Gujarat and Punjab’s high agri production is the reason of access to adequate irrigation.

2. Second, Diversifying India’s food basket- diversification towards high value agricultural products like fruits, vegetables, and allied activities like dairy and poultry.

        • Diversification has been found to strengthen a state’s agri-performance.

3. Third, States needs to undertake timely and speedy policy reforms – Agriculture is a state subject in India, and the Centre may only advise state governments on needed reforms.

        • According to Agricultural Markets and Farmer Friendly Reforms Index (AMFFRI), states which have undertaken policy reforms have also witnessed faster agri-GDP growth rates.

Way forward-

  • Institutional changes- Agriculture must move from a production-centric to a value-chain strategy, with FPOs at the core and linking small-holder FPOs with markets.
  • Investment- India need to investment in basic infrastructure, like roads, markets, power supplies, and agriculture R&D.
  • Rationalizing subsidies (both input and output) via direct income transfer –
        • Subsidies for agriculture have resulted in unmindful use of resources such as water and electricity and skewed the cropping pattern
        • Monoculture farming has resulted in an increase in pest and disease attacks on crops and higher usage of chemical fertilizers.

Government should pay farm subsidies via direct income transfer so that they reach the right beneficiaries and should withdraw subsidies and possibly convert them to capital investments in the sector.

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