Food is one of the fundamentals needs of human beings and feeding a population of around 1.3 billion (approx 132 crores) is no mean feat. Farmers of our country work tirelessly so that we can go about carrying out our daily duties. Agriculture accounts for around 50% of India's total workforce and it is also the broadest economic sector which plays a significant role in the overall socio-economic fabric of India.
With a high growth rate of population, it is a must that India raises its farm productivity to those achieved by other developing countries such as Brazil and China. Recent studies claim that India can easily feed its growing population, plus produce wheat and rice for global exports. For all this to happen, right policies and initiatives are needed.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (formerly Ministry of Agriculture) is the apex body for formulation and administration of the rules and regulations and laws related to agriculture in India. The three broad areas of scope for the Ministry are agriculture, food processing and co-operation. The agriculture ministry is headed by Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Krishna Raj and Parsottambhai Rupala are the Ministers of State.
Budget allocation for the agriculture ministry increased by 13 % to Rs 58,080 crore for 2018 -19 fiscal, from Rs 51,576 crore in 2017-18. Hike in budgetary allocation during 2014-19 compared to 2009 to 2014 is 74.5%. Up from Rs. 1,21,082 crores to Rs. 2,11,694 crore. Farm credit target was raised to Rs 11 lakh crore for 2018-19 from Rs 10 lakh crore in 2017-18.
Let's look at the other initiatives taken by the government for developing the agriculture sector:
Soil Health Card Scheme: This scheme was launched on 17-February-2015 with an aim to help farmers improve productivity by issuing them soil health card completely free of cost, which can be renewed every two years. Soil Health Cards will be issued to all farmers by 2019.
Progress so far as per agriculture ministry data:
- 10.64 crore Soil Health Cards distributed in Phase-I during 2015-17.
- 2.04 crore soil Health Cards distributed in phase -2 during 2017-18.
- Under Soil Health Management Scheme, Rs. 243.82 crores released to the States during 2014-17 against Rs.27.76 crores during 20011-14.
- Under Soil Health Cards Scheme, Rs.401.65 crores released to the states during 2014-17.
- 9243 Soil Testing Laboratories including 8752 Mini Labs sanctioned to the States between 2014-17 against 15 during 2011-14.
- Funds amounting to ₹ 925.36 lakh have been released to ICAR under RKVY Scheme, for setting up 1076 new Mini labs and 100% coverage of all 648 KVKs.
Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana: This scheme was launched on 1.7.2015 with the aim to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level and enhance the physical access of water on the farm and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (Har Khet ko pani). One of the aims is also to enhance the adoption of precision - irrigation and other water saving technologies and Improve on - farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage and increase availability both in duration and extent. (Per Drop More Crop). PMKSY will cover 28.5 Lakh hectare area under irrigation.
Progress so far as per agriculture ministry data:
- Rs. 50,000 crores to be invested in five years to achieve 'Water to Every Field / HarKhetKoPaani'
- Long Term Irrigation Fund with Rs 40,000 Crore (Budget 2016-17 and 2017-18) established for completion of 99 priority projects.
- Dedicated Micro Irrigation fund with a sum of Rs. 5000 crores is being set up for enhancing coverage of micro-irrigation.
- Under 'Per Drop More Crop' for micro-irrigation 26.87 lakh hectares brought under micro irrigation from 2014-18 (as on 25.03.2018).
- The work of completing 99 Irrigation projects that were held up for decades is in progress.
- Under Har Khet ko Pani, 96 deprived irrigation districts will be taken up with an allocation of Rs2600 crore.
- Centre will work with the state governments to facilitate farmers for installing solar water pumps to irrigate their fields.
- Budget allocation of PMKSY IN 2018-19: Rs. 9429 crores.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana: This initiative was launched on 13-January-2016 with the aim to provide comprehensive insurance coverage to farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests and diseases. The scheme also aimed at encouraging adoption of innovative practices and to increase the number of insured farmers gross cropped area (GCA) from present 20% to 50% by 2018-19.
Progress so far:
- Biggest financial support till date by the Central Government in crop insurance. Plan to increase crop insurance coverage from 20% to 50% by 2018-19.
- Implemented by 23 States during Kharif 2016; 405.76 lakh farmers covered and 379.06 lakh hectares insured over the sum insured of Rs.1, 31,5 1988.16 lakh.
- During Rabi 2016-17, 169.11 lakh farmers covered and more than 192.47 lakh hectares insured over the sum insured of Rs. 6,95,0386 lakh.
- During 2017-18, under Rabi & Kharif crops, 4.79 lakh farmers were provided protective coverage under this scheme.
Budget Allocations for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana :
- 2018-19- Rs. 13000cr. Hike of 21%
- 2017-18- Rs. 10701 cr
- 2016-17 - Rs. 5500 cr (actual expenditure Rs. 11,054.63 crore )
- 2015-16 - Rs. 3185 cr (actual expenditure Rs. 2,982.47 crore)
E-National Agriculture Market: This was launched on April, 4, 2016 with the aim to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities by integrating 585 regulated markets (APMCs) with the common e-market platform 'e-NAM' by March 2018. Farmers will be able to get better price of their crop through E-Nam.
Progress so far:
- 585 Mandis across 16 states and 2UTs are live on e-NAM portal as on 28.03.2018.
- More than 87.5 Lakh farmers and sellers are registered on this platform.
- 164.53 lakh Tonnes of farm commodities worth Rs. 41591 thousand crores has been transacted on e-NAM platform (As on 27.03.2018).
Target to double farmers' income by 2022 and the seven-point strategy:
- Special focus on irrigation with sufficient budget, with the aim of "Per Drop More Crop".
- Provision of quality seeds and nutrients based on soil health of each field.
- Large investments in Warehousing and Cold Chains to prevent post-harvest crop losses.
- Promotion of value addition through food processing.
- Creation of a National Farm Market, removing distortions and e-platform across 585 Stations.
- Introduction of a New Crop Insurance Scheme to mitigate risks at an affordable cost.
- Promotion of ancillary activities like poultry, beekeeping, and fisheries.
Enhanced Crop Yield estimates for 2017-18:
- Production of Foodgrains: Estimated at 277.49 MT
- Production of Rice Estimated at 111.01 MT
- Production of Coarse Cereals Estimated at 45.42 million tonnes
- Production of Pulses Estimated at 23.95 million tonnes
- Production of Sugarcane Estimated at 352.23 million tonnes.
- A record production of more than 275 million tonnes of food grains and about 305.4 million tonnes of horticultural produce.
Initiatives towards Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Procurement:
- Big hike in Minimum Support Price or MSP for Kharif crops, 1.5 times of the production cost.
- MSP of Kharif pulses for 2017-18. MSP of Arhar increased from Rs. 5050/- to Rs. 5,450/-per quintal. MSP of Urad increased from Rs. 5,000/- to Rs. 5,400/- per quintal. MSP of Moong increased from Rs 5,225/- to Rs. 5,575/- per quintal.
- Substantial increase in MSP of Rabi Pulses. MSP of Gram increased from Rs. 4,000/- to Rs. 4400/- per quintal.
- Extent of buffer stock of Pulses increased from 1.5 lakh tonnes to 20 lakh tonnes.
- About 16.24 lakh metric tonne of pulses procured (As on 22.3.2018)
- Procurement of wheat during Rabi season has touched 308.24 lakh tonne as on 31th August, 2017 compared to 229.30 lakh metric tonnes in 2016-17 and 280.88 lakh metric tonnes in 2015-16.
- Pulses production went up by more than 3.5 percent during 2017-18 (as per 2nd Advance estimates) as compared to last year's production, of 231.3 lakh, which is a record.
- Launch of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana" to modernise supply chain infrastructure in the agricultural sector.
- Budget allocation doubled under the Krishi Sampada Yojana to push the Food processing industry
Fertilizer Subsidies: Urea and Nutrient bases subsidies are up by almost 8 percent to Rs 70000 crore.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojna: This scheme was launched in FY2015-16 with the aim to promote organic farming. The allocation is of Rs. 300 Crore and Rs. 297 crores in 2016-17. 10,000 clusters covering 2 lakhs hectare area under Organic Farming would be covered during 2015-18. 10,000 clusters have been developed by state governments till now. For Organic value chain for North Eastern States, Rs. 400 crores have been allocated for 2015-18 and Rs. 225.96 crores has been released during 2015-18.
Department of Animal Husbandry Dairy and Fisheries:
A revolution in the fisheries sector has been termed as the blue revolution. The Modi government has restructured the scheme by merging all the ongoing schemes under an umbrella of Blue Revolution. Blue Revolution Scheme got approval with an outlay of Rs. 3000 crore for 5 years. Average 48.35 lakh fishermen would be insured annually. Budget provision was Rs. 402.83 crores in 2017-18 and Rs. 523.99 crores in 2016-17.
Fish production increased from 272.85 lakh tonnes during 2011-14 to 324.31 tonnes during 2014-17. Annual insurance premium of fishermen reduced from Rs. 20.34 to Rs. 12 as a result of which majority of the fishermen have got insurance done. Insurance cover increased to Rs. 2 lakh from Rs. 1 lakh for accidental death and permanent disability.
Initiatives towards Animal Rearing and Dairy:
Budgetary provision for White Revolution was increased by 43.8% to Rs. 1632.97 crores in 2017-18 from Rs.1136 crore in 2016-17. During the 3 financial years of 2011-14, the annual average milk production was 146.3 million tonnes which enhanced as 163.7 million tonnes in 3 financial years of 2014-17 which shows almost 12% enhancement. Similarly in 3 financial year of 2011-14 annual per capita milk productivity was 298 gram which enhanced as 336 gram per day in 2014-17 which shows an enhancement of almost 12.7%.
'Dairy Processing Infrastructure Development Fund' with a corpus of Rs. 10,881 crore is being set up. National Kamdhenu Breeding centre has been established in MP and Andhra Pradesh to conserve all Bovine Breeds.
Rashtriya Gokul Mission: The aim of this initiative is to conserve and develop indigenous bovine breeds for enhancing milk production and productivity. The mission was launched in December 2014 with an allocation of Rs 2025 crores. In terms of progress, Rs. 190 crores was allotted during 2017-18. 20 Gokul Grams are being established and 41 Bull Mother Farms have been modernized. 1404 High Genetic Merit Artificial Inseminator Bulls have been inducted for natural service.
Announcements made in Budget 2018 for Agriculture sector:
- It was announced that a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore would be created for infrastructure development in fishery, aquaculture and animal husbandry sectors.
- A corpus of Rs. 2,000 crore as Agri-market infrastructure fund would also be setup.
- Rs 1,290 crore announced for the National Bamboo Mission to help setting up of small industries and create new employments opportunities in bamboo sector.
- Tax incentives to promote post-harvest agricultural activities.
- Launch of Operation Greens on the lines of Operation Flood with budgetary outlay of Rs. 500 crores. To address the challenge of price volatility of perishable commodities like tomato, onion and potato with the satisfaction of both the farmers and consumers.
- To develop and upgrade existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs) to take care of the interests of more than 86% small and marginal farmers. These GrAMs, electronically linked to e-NAM will provide farmers facility to make direct sale to consumers and bulk purchasers.