Sowing A Future Of Plenty
The year 2020 will benefit from recharged acquifer's after 2019's healthy rainfall and thus, promises a good Kharif harvest.
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The government's vision of taking the nation’s macro-economy up to $5 trillion by 2024 necessitates that the agriculture sector be integral to this strategy, and the fulcrum of the transformation. The government’s aim to enhance the welfare of farmers, predicated upon doubling farmers’ income by 2022, is moving in the right direction, in synch with the principle of harmonising the interests of different stakeholders. The demands of consumers for wholesome nutrition and of the ecology shall be optimally blended with the goal of achieving higher incomes and sustainability from agriculture.
India like others on the planet, has been facing adverse impacts of climate change, particularly in deviations in rainfall and temperature. Notwithstanding this, the production growth of various agricultural commodities indicates increasing resilience of the country’s farmers and farming, evident in the food-grain output of 285 million tonne in 2017-18 against 265 mil-lion tonnes in 2014-15. As per the 4th Advance Estimates, 2018-19 is expected to close with a similar output and the government is targeting an output of 291 million tonnes for 2019-20. During 2018-19, while Kharif output rose over that of the previous year, the Rabi season output saw some dip, owing to low soil moisture content, the South-west monsoons being less than normal in different parts of the country. Rabi 2019-20 can be expected to be bountiful, thanks to more than normal rainfall from the South-west monsoon, which has yielded a happy situation of good water reservoir storage and high soil moisture content.
The overall output from agriculture, inclusive of foodgrain, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables, commercial crops, dairy, other animal products and fish, are expected to be satisfactory in 2019-20. Monsoon patterns continue to be an important factor for India’s agriculture. However, the comforting factor is that the year 2020 will benefit from recharged aquifers and higher soil moisture linked to the healthy rainfall of 2019. Thus one can expect a good Kharif harvest in 2020.
In the last couple of years, the growth of agriculture is being perceived with greater reference to farmers’ income and not production per se. In this context, the status of prices that farmers receive and the agri-logistics that convey the produce from the farm gate to the markets is more critical. Prices of food grain, pulses, oil-seeds and dairy products have of late demonstrated some market buoyancy, which favour the farmer.
The importance of agricultural exports in expanding the scope for marketing efficiency in favour of farmers cannot be brushed aside. It is with this view that the government has for the first time in 2018, adopted a comprehensive agriculture export policy. This is being
taken forward with various initiatives including promoting a large number of commodity clusters. Clusteralisation will facilitate global market integration by putting in place both backward and forward linkages. The year 2020 will certainly see many such clusters take off, which buttressed by the government’s focus on promoting 10,000 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) by 2022 will see visible action on the ground. The states have begun to adopt the Model Contract Farming & Services Act 2018, Tamil Nadu being the first to have done so. Many states should be coming on-board in 2020, to set a positive context for marketing efficiency and price risk negotiation.
Simultaneously, rising trade sectarianism by major powers to carve out their respective zones of influence, and compromise of the WTO’s (World Trade Organization) status by the United States − a dominant member − warrants that India look more closely at its domestic market in 2020. The country will therefore, need to accelerate the pace of market transformation towards a new architecture that aims to transfer higher real prices of their produce to farmers.
Mid-point toward target
The targeted onboarding of 400 more APLMCs/ APMCs with eNAM, and establishing inter-operability with the ReMS platform of Karnataka, will see the strengthening of the ‘One-nation One-market’ environment. The year 2020 will also see creation of the first lot of GrAMs, progress on e-warehouse receipt system and greater flow of institutional credit to Kisan Credit Cards (KCCs). The Ministries of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Fisheries target covering all eligible farmers, including those involved in animal husbandry and fisheries with KCCs.
The year 2020 in a way marks the mid-point of the targeted time schedule for doubling farmers’ income (2016 to 2022). Various recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) are under implementation. In 2019, the NITI Aayog constituted a Committee of Chief Ministers to suggest ways for speedy transformation of India’s agriculture. This committee’s report is due in 2020, which can be expected to pave the way for unhindered implementation of various DFI recommendations, including reforms. These encompass a new market architecture, contract farming and services, easing of land lease, liberalised control orders under the Essential Commodities Act and so on. This will sequel into a transformed, enterprise oriented and market led agricultural value system.
In addition to growth of agricultural production and farmers’ income, focus can be expected to shift towards correcting today’s regional and commodity imbalances. More visible action can be foretold for rainfed areas and low water duty crops like millets, pulses and oilseeds in 2020. Revision of water-shed guidelines along with emphasis on spring-sheds in the Himalayan states, will help the communities adopt climate resilient technologies and negotiate climate change risks. This is being led by the government’s special arm for rainfed areas, namely the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA). In 2020, the NRAA should also be working more closely with the states to drought proof the 151 vulnerable districts already identified around the country. It is well advised to sharpen water budgeting as a core concept that gels well with the nation’s Jal Shakti Mission. This mission aims to conserve water and use the scarce resource more efficiently.
Several initiatives have been taken by the government over the last six years, including the Soil Heath Card (SHC), the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), PM-AASHA, PM-KISAN and so on. One can foresee a widening of these initiatives and even higher acceptance by all stakeholders, including farmers in 2020.
The government has just shared its National Infrastructure Pipeline, amounting to Rs 102 lakh crores of gross capital formation as a part of its bid to achieve a $ 5 trillion economy. It includes various components of agricultural investments, ‘In’ and ‘For’ the agricultural economy, as recommended by the DFI Committee. The year 2020 will see the commencement of such investments and lay the foundation for a decade of growth.
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