CAA’s Articulate – A reset for Agriculture


Context: 

  • The deteriorating condition of the agriculture sector in the country demands a reset in order to reinstill the lost vigour and capability.

Situation of Agriculture:

  • Although overflowing grannies gives a perception that India has solved the food security problem but this is not the case as –
    • The country’s per capita consumption of meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables is very low as compared to others because of less purchasing capacity of majority masses. When their income will rise, so will the demand.
    • Climate Change further deters the production levels by changing the monsoon pattern and climate in future. This may reduce the production in future.
    • The subsidies to the sector and free ration to the people is sustaining the supply as well as the demand. If any of the two is reversed or reduced then problems will arise.

Way Ahead:

The situation calls for not only supporting the farmers but rather making India nutrient reliant even will minimum production in future by – 

  • Forecasting the nutrition requirement for 2050 as by both population and economy would have been stabilized.
  • Formulating area production plans for animal husbandry and crops considering agro ecological zones and the changing climate. The aim should be to figure out a suitable basket of crops for each area.
  • Incentivising the identified crops and practices based on area production plans while giving the farmers freedom to grow any crop.
  • Changing the nature of subsidies to one payment for farm ecosystem services so as to ensure improvement in soil health, rain water harvesting structures etc.. 
  • Calculating the real cost of production to farmers that ensures not mere survival rather healthy growth for them.
  • Investing in robust market intelligence systems which –
    • Must be independent of agriculture ministry
    • Can help manage production and price spikes
    • Must issues regular crop advisories
  • Focusing on research and development, collaborating with the private sector and using digital technologies.
  • Beginning a robust awareness campaign to instil healthier eating habits so that demand for identified crops can match the supply. Further the unhealthier items should be taxed heavily to discourage their usage.

Conclusion:

The interplay of climate change, environment, biodiversity, livestock, health and big agriculture businesses must be taken into consideration while revamping the agricultural sector. The policies which must be adopted should benefit the majority and must compensate the losers.