Agriculture is important to the Indian economy, accounting for approximately 17% of the total GDP and employing over 58% of the population. Recognising the importance of agriculture, the Indian government has undertaken several plans and efforts to help the industry, boost productivity, and improve farmers’ livelihoods across the country.
Soil Health and Micronutrients
- Soil Health Card: The Soil Health Card Scheme is a Government of India initiative that began in 2015. The scheme’s goal is to offer farmers detailed information about their soil’s nutrient status and to prescribe appropriate strategies to increase soil health and fertility. The Soil Health Card Scheme’s principal goal is to encourage sustainable agriculture practices and increase farm output.
- Neem Coated Urea (NCU) is a program that regulates urea use, improves nitrogen availability to crops, and reduces fertilizer costs. The neem coating slows down the release of fertiliser, resulting in better uptake by crops. All domestically manufactured and imported urea is now neem coated. Positive field reports indicate expected savings of 10% in urea consumption, lowering cultivation costs and improving soil health management.
- PM-PRANAM: This program encourages states and union territories to adopt alternative fertilizers and promote balanced utilization of chemical fertilizers to safeguard the environment. It incentivizes the use of eco-friendly practices in farming.
Agricultural and Livestock Insurance
- Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY): The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) were launched in Kharif 2016 to provide complete crop insurance coverage against non-preventable natural risks from pre-sowing to post-harvest losses. These plans are simply risk management tools accessible to farmers at extremely low premium rates of 2% for Kharif crops, 1.5% for Rabi crops, and 5% for annual commercial/horticultural crops. The remaining actuarial premium is split 50:50 between the Central and State Governments. The schemes are voluntary for states and are only available in areas and crops designated by state governments. Furthermore, the plans are mandatory for loanee farmers and optional for non-loanee farmers.
- Scheme for Livestock Insurance: This scheme aims to provide farmers and cattle rearers with a protection mechanism against the loss of their animals due to death, as well as to demonstrate the benefits of livestock insurance to the public and popularise it, with the ultimate goal of achieving qualitative improvements in livestock and their products.
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY): PMKSY’s objective is to provide all agricultural farms in the country with access to some form of protected irrigation, allowing them to produce more crops per drop. As a result, much-needed rural prosperity will be realised. Based on a comprehensive planning process at the district/state level, PMKSY is strategized by focusing on end-to-end solutions in the irrigation supply chain, such as water sources, distribution networks, efficient farm-level applications, extension services on new technologies and information, and so on.
- Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF): The government has approved a dedicated fund of Rs. 5,000 crores to expand the adoption of micro-irrigation techniques. This initiative aims to increase agricultural production and enhance farmers’ income. The fund has been established under the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), which will provide this amount to states at a concessional interest rate. The goal is to promote micro-irrigation, which is currently being utilized on only 10 million hectares of land despite having the potential to cover 70 million hectares.
- Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI) Scheme: The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is implementing the capital investment subsidy sub-scheme “Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI)” of the Integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing (ISAM) to create agricultural marketing infrastructure, including storage facilities. In 2014, the former two schemes, Grameen Bhandaran Yojana (GBY) implemented in 2001 and Scheme for Strengthening/Development of Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure, Grading & Standardisation (AMIGS) implemented in 2004, were combined into a single scheme known as Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI). The Gramin Bhandaran Scheme supports farmers in creating or renovating rural storage infrastructure, improving storage capacity, promoting product standardization, and preventing distress sales.
- E-NAM: National Agriculture Market (NAM) was launched in 2015 to usher reforms in the agri-marketing sector and promote online marketing of agro commodities across the country while providing maximum benefit to farmers. A web-based platform has been deployed across 585 regulated markets under the scheme to promote online trading, digitalization of market operations such as gate entry, a lot making, bidding, generation of e-sale agreements and e-payment, etc to remove information asymmetry, increase transparency in the transaction process, and improve access to markets across the country.
- Scheme for formation and promotion of Farmer Producer Organization (FPO): Central Sector Scheme named “Formation and Promotion of Farmer Produce Organisations (FPOs)” was established to form and promote 10,000 new FPOs. Small Farmers Agri-business Consortium (SFAC), National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) would be the first three implementing agencies to develop and promote FPOs. Through collective marketing and other activities, FPOs hope to strengthen their negotiating power, productivity, and income.
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna (PKVY): The “Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)” is a part of the Soil Health Management (SHM) scheme under the National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA). Its goal is to promote organic farming by combining traditional wisdom and modern science in a value-chain approach. The program aims to ensure sustainability, enhance long-term soil fertility, conserve resources, and produce safe and healthy food without harming the environment. PKVY also aims to empower farmers through institutional development, including clusters, to manage farming practices, produce high-quality inputs, ensure quality assurance, and explore innovative techniques for value addition and direct commercialization.
- Mission Organic Value Chain Development for Northeastern Region: Recognising the potential of organic farming in the country’s North Eastern Region, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare has launched a Central Sector Scheme titled “Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region” for implementation in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The scheme aims to develop certified organic production in a value chain mode, connecting growers with consumers and supporting the development of the entire value chain, beginning with inputs, seeds, and certification, and ending with the creation of facilities for collection, aggregation, processing, marketing, and brand building.
- National Mission on Natural Farming: To encourage farmers to switch to chemical-free farming and expand the scope of natural farming, the government established the National Mission on Natural Farming (NMNF) as a separate and independent scheme beginning in 2023-24 by scaling up the Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Paddati (BPKP). The success of NMNF will necessitate a behavioural shift in farmers to convert from chemical-based inputs to cow-based locally generated inputs, which will necessitate the ongoing creation of awareness, training, handholding, and capacity building of farmers in the early years.
- National Project on Organic Farming: The National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF) is a central sector initiative that was created in 2004, during the tenth five-year plan, by incorporating the National Project on Development and Use of Biofertilizers under the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India. The objective of the scheme is to promote organic farming in the country through various measures, including:
- Technical capacity building of stakeholders and human resource development.
- Transfer of technology to encourage the adoption of organic farming practices.
- Promotion and production of quality organic and biological inputs.
- Acting as a nodal quality control laboratory for analysis of biofertilizers and organic fertilizers.
- Revision of standards and testing protocols for organic inputs.
- Maintenance of a national and regional culture collection bank of biofertilizers and biocontrol organisms.
- Management of organic input resources and technology development.
- Promotion of organic farming through a low-cost certification system known as the “Participatory Guarantee System” (PGS-India)
- Providing financial assistance for specific activities like compost units and biofertilizer/bio-pesticide production units.
- Awareness creation and publicity through print and electronic media.
- Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK): Krishi Vigyan Kendras are district-level agricultural extension centres established by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and its affiliated institutions. KVKs are an essential component of the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) and act as a liaison between the NARS and farmers. The KVK centre offers several sorts of farm help to the agricultural sector as well as raises awareness about improved agricultural technologies. The KVK Portal was created to integrate all of the country’s KVKs for online monitoring and management of KVKs, as well as to impart relevant knowledge and technologies to farmers.
- Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA): The ATMA was established as part of the National Agricultural Technology Project. The project’s primary goal is to disseminate technologies. ATMA would also connect research organisations and government organisations involved in agricultural development. The objective of the agency is to build farmer linkages, improve the quality of technologies disseminated, maintain coordination and administration of actions related to technology adaption, form new alliances with NGOs and other private institutions and offer effective coordination of the activities of many organisations involved in technology distribution.
- National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology (NMAET): This scheme was launched by the government in the year 2014. The objectives of the National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology (NMAET), which encompasses extension, Information Communication Technology (ICT), Seeds, Agricultural Mechanisation, and Plant Protection, are to restructure and strengthen agricultural extension to enable the delivery of appropriate technology and improved agronomic practises to farmers through interactive methods of information dissemination, capacity building, and institution strengthening. The National Mission on Agricultural Extension and Technology (NMAET) is divided into four Sub-Missions: Agricultural Extension (SMAE), Seed and Planting Material (SMSP), Agricultural Mechanisation (SMAM), and Plant Protection and Plant Quarantine (SMPP). The project is carried out by state governments. However, some NMAET components are implemented by the Indian government’s central government.
- Farmer Field Schools (FFS): The Farmer Field School is a type of adult education that arose from the idea that farmers learn best via field observation and experimentation. It was created to assist farmers in tailoring their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practises to a variety of different and dynamic ecological circumstances. From planting to harvest, groups of neighbouring farmers study and debate the crop’s ecological dynamics in frequent gatherings. Simple experimentation aids farmers’ comprehension of functional linkages (for example, pest-natural enemy population dynamics and crop damage-yield relationships). Farmers get the competence needed to make their own crop management decisions through this cyclical learning process. Special group activities promote peer learning while also improving communication skills and group formation.
- Kisan Call Centers (KCC): In 2004, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare of the Government of India opened Kisan Call Centres around the country to provide extension help to farmers. The goal of these call centres is to respond to farmers’ concerns in their native language as soon as possible. These call centres answer questions about agriculture and other related industries. If the Call Centre operator is unable to immediately address the farmer’s question, the call will be routed to selected agricultural professionals.
- m-Kisan portal: The government has created a platform, m-kisan (mkisan.gov.in), where approximately 4.23 crore farmers are enrolled and experts/scientists from various departments such as IMD, ICAR, State Government, and State Agriculture Universities disseminate information to farmers in local languages. Weather information, such as the chance of rainfall, temperature, and so on, enables farmers to make informed decisions about seed kinds and the timing of sowing and harvesting. Farmers benefit from market knowledge since they are better aware of markets to sell their produce, market prices, and market amount demanded. As a result, they can make educated judgements about selling produce at the right price and at the right time. This aids in decreasing farmer distress sales caused by market supply variations.
- The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme is a government flagship initiative that provides direct income support to small and marginal farmers. Eligible farmers with up to 2 hectares of cultivable land receive Rs. 6,000 per year in three equal instalments. The Direct Benefit Transfer mechanism transfers income support directly to the beneficiaries bank accounts. The initiative intends to promote farmers’ financial well-being by providing them with a consistent and predictable source of revenue to cover agricultural expenses. It has played an important role in empowering farmers and sustaining their livelihoods across the country.
- The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA): This scheme was launched to increase agricultural output, particularly in rainfed areas, by focusing on integrated farming, water usage efficiency, soil health management, and resource synergy.
NMSA will address key dimensions of ‘Water use efficiency,’ ‘Nutrient Management,’ and ‘Livelihood diversification’ through the adoption of a sustainable development pathway that includes gradually shifting to environmentally friendly technologies, the use of energy-efficient equipment, natural resource conservation, integrated farming, etc.
Schemes under NMSA
- Rainfed Area Development (RAD): RAD is being implemented by RFS Division
- Soil Health Management (SHM): SHM is being implemented by INM Division
- Sub Mission on Agro-Forestry (SMAF): SMAF is being implemented by NRM Division
- Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY): PKVY is being implemented by INM Division
- Soil and Land Use Survey of India (SLUSI): Being implemented by the RFS Division
- National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA): Being implemented by RFS Division
- Mission Organic Value Chain Development in North Eastern Region (MOVCDNER): Being implemented by INM Division
- National Centre of Organic Farming (NCOF): Being implemented by INM Division
- Central Fertilizer Quality Control and Training Institute (CFQC&TI): implemented by INM Division
- National Scheme on Welfare of Fishermen: This National Scheme was introduced to provide financial support to fishermen for various purposes. It includes the construction of houses, community halls for recreational activities, and common working spaces. The scheme also aims to install tube wells to ensure access to drinking water and provide assistance to fishermen during the lean period through a savings cum relief component.
- Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana– Beneficial Approach for Transformation of Agriculture and Allied Sector (RKVY-RAFTAAR): The objective is to enhance the profitability of farming by empowering farmers, minimizing risks, and encouraging entrepreneurial ventures in the agricultural industry. As part of this initiative, new agribusiness incubators (ABI) will be established and existing ones will be reinforced as Raftaar-ABI (R-ABI), equipped with necessary infrastructure, equipment, and staff tailored to specific requirements. These R-ABIs will then welcome applications from agricultural entrepreneurs at different stages of their business journey (idea or expansion), offering them a platform to foster innovation in agriculture and related fields.
In the 2023-2024 Budget, the government launched several flagship schemes/programs:
- Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Programme: Led by the National Horticulture Board, this program aims to improve the quality of horticulture crops in India, promote exports in the sector, and focus on enhancing crop yields, environmental preservation, and resilient plant varieties.
- Transition to Natural Farming: The government plans to support one crore farmers in transitioning to natural farming over the next three years. This will involve establishing 10,000 Bio-Input Resource Centres to produce micro-fertilizers and pesticides, forming a decentralized national system.
- PM Matsya Sampada Yojana Sub Scheme: With an investment of ₹6,000 crores, this sub-scheme aims to enhance the operations of fishermen, fish vendors, and micro and small enterprises. It aims to improve value chain efficiencies, expand market access, and promote overall growth in the fisheries sector.
- Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture: To support farmer-centric solutions and the development of agricultural technology startups, a digital public infrastructure will be established. This open-source and interoperable resource aims to foster innovation and inclusivity in the agricultural sector.