“The hard working Farmer is our Anna Data. Our schemes and initiatives are aimed towards bringing a qualitative change in the life of the farmer, one that will play a key role in Transforming India” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Agriculture, with its allied various sectors, is undeniably the largest livelihood provider in India. It also contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The government has taken many initiatives to support the farmers and modernize the sector, which has led to a renewed revitalization of the Indian agriculture scenario.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi recently acknowledged the fervor of our farmers by stating, “even the drought has not dampened the spirits of our farmers. Our total food grain output in 2015-16 estimated at 252. 23 MT, which shows we had a fruitful harvest.”
“Food grain production has remained much higher, and wholesale price based food grain inflation much lower, than in the last comparable drought year, which was 2009-10,” he added.
In the Union Budget 2016-17, many provisions have been made for reforming agriculture. These revolve around investments, incentives and institutions. The allocation for agriculture and farmers’ welfare this year is Rs.35,984 crore, the highest ever.
The government has placed emphasis on agriculture and farmers’ welfare, rural and social sectors. Several attempts have been made to generate more employment and revive the rural demand, which will spur farmers’ welfare. The Ministry of Agriculture was renamed as Ministry of Agriculture & Farmer Welfare, which symbolizes this renewed focus.
One major cause of concern has been deteriorating soil health, which has led to sub optimal utilization of farming resources. To overcome such issues, the Soil Health Card (SHC) Scheme was launched. The scheme aims at promoting soil test based and balanced use of fertilizers to enable farmers to realize higher yields at lower cost. The government has so far distributed 1.84 crore soil health cards to farmers and is expected to cover all 14 crore farm holdings by March, 2017.
To increase farm productivity, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has asked agricultural scientists to disseminate technologies to farmers in simple and easy manner and make "per drop, more crop" a mantra to promote farming through optimum utilization of water. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) is to be implemented in mission mode & 28.5 lakh hectares will be brought under irrigation. Implementation of 89 languishing irrigation projects under AIBP will be fast tracked. A dedicated Long Term Irrigation Fund will be created in NABARD with an initial corpus of about 20,000 crore.
It is a national mission to improve farm productivity and ensure better utilization of the resources in the country. Now, 100% Neem coated urea is available in India. This will improve fertilizer use efficiency by 10 to 15 percent and thereby reduce the consumption of urea fertilizer.
While launching ‘One Nation, One Market’ Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, “This is a turning point for the agriculture world... This initiative will usher in transparency which will greatly benefit farmers.”
Under e-NAM, farmers will initially be able to sell their produce through 'mandis' within the state. It will then be extended as a pan-India operation by 2017, allowing farmers to sell their produce to any wholesale market across the country. The facility will eventually link as many as 585 mandis in India by March 2018 - making it possible to reach the goal of 'one nation, one market' for agriculture all across India.
To protect the farmers from adverse consequences of nature, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched. The best part of it is farmers will pay a only a nominal insurance premium and get the highest-ever compensation in the event of any loss suffered. One crop – One rate (Kharif : 2 %, Rabi : 1.5 %, Horticulture Crops: 5 %).Since independence, only around 20% farmers have been covered under crop insurance schemes, but the PMFBY targets covering 50% farmers in the next 3 years.
Also, an upsurge in farm income is envisaged with increased support to several allied activities like fisheries, animal husbandry and dairy products. India recorded its highest ever milk production of 146.31 million tons. Rs 850 crore was allocated to four dairying projects - ‘Pashudhan Sanjivani’, ‘Nakul Swasthya Patra’, ‘E-Pashudhan Haat’ and National Genomic Centre for indigenous breeds. Fish production has increased from 95.72 lakh tonnes during 2013-14 to 101.64 lakh tonnes during 2014-15, and is expected to rise further to 107.9 lakh tonnes in 2015-16.
There is also a significant increase in relief provided by the government. For the years 2010-2015, a provision of Rs. 33,580.93 crore was made for State Disaster Response Fund. This has been increased to Rs. 61,220 crore for the period 2015-2020. A relief of only Rs. 12,516.20 crore was approved between 2010-14 crore to States affected by drought and hailstorms. But in 2014-15 alone, the government in approved an amount of Rs. 9,017.998 crore as relief to the States affected by drought and hailstorm. During the year 2015-16, Rs. 13,496.57 crore has already been approved.
In this rapidly evolving digital world, the Government of India has launched several initiatives such as the Kisan Suvidha application, the electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), PUSA Krishi App, Agri Market App, Crop Insurance App (PMFBY- data will start flowing to this app after June 2016) and Farmers' Portal- www.farmer.gov.in - a one-stop shop for all info needs. This shows a dedicated push to the adoption of technology in the agricultural sector.
The renaming of the ministry as Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare is not merely semantic. With sustained focus on Progressive Farming, and integration of modern technology, the Agriculture sector is set of a transformative change. The aim of
doubling farmers'' income in the next five years looks imminently doable.