Indian Agriculture Reforms

Source- The Indian Express

Syllabus- GS 3 – Land reforms in India.

Context- Farmers and state governments across India don’t want APMCs.

How many farmers are there in India?

  1. Based on the self- declaration- Almost 111 million farmers are registered for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi(PM-Kisan). The eligibility criteria for this scheme are-
  • Registration requires the family to hold cultivable land, duly registered.
  • If a family member is relatively privileged (MP/MLA, pension exceeding Rs 10,000, an income-tax payer, or a professional), one can’t opt for the PM-Kisan benefits.
  • For any false declaration there are penalties also.

Therefore, 111 million is a lower bound figure. Other than some categories being barred from PM-Kisan benefits, not every eligible farmer has necessarily registered for PM-Kisan.

  1. Based on Agriculture Census- In India, in every five years people have an agriculture census.
  • 2010-11 – There was 138 million holdings.
  • 2015-16 – It gave 146 million holdings which is a result of further fragmentation.

If the agricultural landholding is conditional on being a farmer, apart from a possible further increase since 2015-16, 146 million is possibly the upper bound.

  1. Based on various acts-

Every definition of “farmer” is not contingent on the ownership of land.

For Example-

  • The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001– Where status as a farmer depends on cultivating land (or supervising cultivation), not owning it.
  • Draft National Policy for Farmers, 2006That issue was also flagged by the National Commission on Farmers, such as in the Draft National Policy for Farmers (2006), where “farmers” included agricultural labourers, sharecroppers and tenants and so on. When talking and generalising about farmers, it is necessary to specify which set one has in mind.

What is the quality of land records in various states when land is a prerequisite for defining someone as a farmer?

  1. The Committee on State Agrarian Relations and the Unfinished Task in Land Reforms, 2009-
  • Absence of land holding data – The last extensive survey and settlement in India was conducted two to three decades prior to Independence which means in the 1920s.
  1. Department of Land Resources has a Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) –
  • DILRMP is often about digitising/modernising existing land records.
  • The DILRMP dashboard tells that digitisation of land records have been completed in only 11.5 per cent of villages.

For Example- Gujarat, West Bengal and Tripura score high on this (over 90 per cent). Punjab’s track record is 0 per cent.

What is 2015-16 Agricultural Census report?

According to the Agricultural Census report 2015-16 –

  1. Highest operated areas-The highest operated areas are in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, UP and MP, in that order. 86.1 per cent of holdings are small and marginal (less than 2 hectares) and only 0.6 per cent is large (more than 10 hectares).
  2. FCI procurement-There is increasing FCI procurement of rice from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha and of wheat from MP, UP and Rajasthan.
  3. E-NAM(National Agricultural Market) has more coverage from MP, UP, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat than from Punjab or Haryana.

Way Forward

The face of Indian agriculture has changed and is no longer what it was in the Green Revolution days, centred on Punjab, Haryana and western UP. With realistic input costs, that form of agriculture is no longer viable in those Green Revolution tracts.

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