|Dr. Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog|
|Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE& DG ICAR|
|Prof. Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman, CACP|
|Shri S.K. Pattanayak, Secretary, DAC&FW|
|Dr. Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD|
SPEAKER’S RESEARCH INITIATIVE (SRI)
Subject : Agriculture – Challenges, Prospects and Solutions
Date : 20 and 21 July, 2017
Venue : BPST Main Lecture Hall, Parliament Library Building,
Speakers : Dr Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Ayog,
Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR
Prof. Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman, CACP
Shri S. K. Pattanayak, Secretary, DAC&FW
Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD
Distinguished Guest: Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare
On the first day of the workshop Prof Vijay Paul Sharma, Chairman, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR, Dr Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Ayog appeared as experts and interacted with members of Parliament. Shri Rahul Dev, Honorary Advisor, SRI welcomed all the dignitaries, distinguished experts and the parliamentarians to the workshop.
Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha was also present during the workshop. She said that agriculture is a very broad subject and a single expert may not be able to do justice with its various aspects i.e. cost and prices, Minimum Support Price (MSP), role of technology, road map prepared by NITI Ayog to double farmer’s income by 2022 etc. She urged the members to benefit from the presence of a number of experts having expertise on different aspects of agriculture.
Prof Vijay Paul Sharma: He made a power point presentation on the subject. His presentation was focused on three major aspects i.e. Trends and Patterns in Indian Agriculture, Key Challenges & Opportunities in Indian Agriculture and Policy Options and Strategies to Accelerate Agricultural Growth.
He presented following emerging trends in terms of performances of Indian agriculture referring to reports of DAC&FW –
Prof Vijay Paul Sharma further added that changing demographics, rising demand for high value agricultural products, higher disposable income, technology & infrastructure and increasing trade opportunities have resulted in change in value of output from agriculture. As per the Central Statistics Office (CSO) data 2016, while share of meat & fish, milk, fruits & vegetables, food grains and oilseeds between 1984-93 were 8.2%, 16.2%, 12.7%, 31.3 % and 8.6 % respectively, the same were 12%, 19.4%, 17.8%, 23.6%, and 5.2 % during 2014-15.
Prof Sharma outlined following constraints/issues facing Indian agriculture-
While agricultural land has shrink from 185 million ha to 181.9 million ha between 1991-92 and 2014-15, area under non-agricultural uses has grown from 21.5 million ha to 26.9 million ha during the same period.
Irrigation facilities cover 48% of agricultural land and the same varies from one State to others. Maharashtra (18%); Jharkhand (15%), Punjab (99%), Haryana (89%)
A major part of interaction between Prof Vijay Paul Sharma and MPs centred on Minimum Support Price (MSP). Hon’ble MP Shri Jagdambika Pal pointed out to the fact that when return of a crop is higher in a particular year, farmers produce more such crop in the next year anticipating the same higher return. However on account of overproduction, the yield does not get even its production cost. He wanted to know how this problem can be resolved.
Response by Prof Vijay Pal Sharma – He admitted that the farmers are not being able to be communicated the likely demand for a particular farm produce for the upcoming year, for want of which farmers do not select the crop to be sown as per the demand but as per their previous year price.
Hon’ble Speaker, Lok Sabha enquired particularly about the way and the manners in which the cost of farm products and MSP are decided. She requested to suggest the way in which agricultural production cost may be brought down so that it does not exceed MSP.
Prof Sharma explained that availability of agricultural produces also determine their prices in the market. The reason why the price of Tur remained below MSP last year was its surplus stock in the market. The Government could have averted the situation through timely intervention by restricting its import, removing stock holding limits and imposing import duty. He advocated for the need of timely strategic market intervention by the Government so that the farmers get MSP.
Minimum Support Price (MSP) and its calculation
Minimum Support Price (MSP) is a form of market intervention by the Government to insure agricultural producers against any sharp fall in farm prices. The minimum support prices are announced by the Government of India at the beginning of the sowing season for certain crops on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP). MSP is price fixed by the Government to protect the farmers against excessive fall in price during bumper production years. The minimum support prices are a guarantee price from the Government that this will be the minimum price at which their product will fetch. If the market price is above, MSP, the farmer can obviously sell it at the market prices. In case the market price for the commodity falls below the announced minimum price due to bumper production and glut in the market, government agencies purchase the entire quantity offered by the farmers at the announced minimum price.
To witness growth in farm income, Prof Vijay Paul Sharma made following suggestions-
Dr Trilochan Mohapatra: He began his power point presentation with the facts that Indian Agriculture supports 17.6 per cent of world human population, 15 percent of world animal population with 4.2 percent of world’s water and 2.4 per cent of land area. His presentation focused on three aspects i.e. achievements of Indian agriculture, challenges and possibilities and solutions.
While presenting achievements of Indian agriculture in terms of major agricultural products exported, he stated that marine products, basmati and non-basmati rice and buffalo meat are major constituents in the agricultural export basket in terms of value of exports. Noteworthy that items such as basmati rice and buffalo meats are nontraditional and emerging export commodities in agriculture. Further, he added that the emphasis on production of breeder seeds of different crops to provide healthy and certified seeds to farmers helped in improving the availability of quality seeds.
Dr Mohapatra spelt out following challenges for Indian agriculture-
Intervention by Hon’ble Speaker: Hon’ble Speaker emphasized on the need for popularizing the new technologies for increasing the shelf life of produce. She added that low cost storage technology should be popularized so that farmers are not forced to sell farm products for want of storage facilities.
Dr Mohapatra summarized way forward for the Indian agriculture through following solutions-
Dr Ramesh Chand: During the course of power point presentation, Dr Ramesh Chand presented the following important aspects of Indian agriculture.
- Average size of holding 1.12 hectare.
- 85% below 2 hectare and 67 % below 1 hectare, average 1 acre.
- Not in one place – fragments. Land consolidation.
- More than half is rainfed. Crop intensity only 1.42.
- Water consumption ~ 75 per cent
- Land under agriculture ~ 46 per cent
- Green house gases ~ 17 per cent
In addition to the above factual aspects, Dr Ramesh Chand marked following challenges being faced by the Indian agriculture-
While elaborating upon these challenges, Dr. Ramesh Chand put the emphasis on the initiatives required for the growth of Indian agriculture, particularly farmer’s income. He stated that as per the estimates, 60 per cent of famer’s income come from agricultural source while 40 per cent comes from other sources. Based on total (farm and non farm) household income 2011-12, 22.5 per cent farmers are living below poverty line in country. In case, non farm income is excluded from the total income, more than 50 per cent of farmers would be relying under below poverty line. He underlined the fact that 40 per cent farmers do not have any income from non-farm sources which is lamentable.
Dr. Ramesh Chand attributed the lopsided economic reforms as one of the reason for the aggravating farmers’ condition. During early 1990s, agricultural and non-agricultural, both the sectors were growing almost at similar pace. However, after this, while non-agricultural sector saw fast growth on account of hefty reforms, agriculture witnessed inverse, patchy and piecemeal reforms. Controls and restriction on agriculture persisted which resulted in agricultural growth stagnating at around 2.9 percent on an average while other sectors were growing at 8 to 9 percent. This situation created a kind of distress among the farmers. While 6 to7 percent of farmer’s annual income growth was required to meet their expenses, the same remained below 3 per cent.
Dr. Ramesh Chand therefore insisted on doubling farmer’s income to see growth in agricultural sector. In order to ensure that farmer’s income witness growth, he suggested to work extensively in four areas i.e. technology, development initiative, diversification and price realization so as to strengthen the following-
vii. Shift of farmers to non-farm jobs
Intervention by hon’ble Member of Parliament Shri Laxmi Narayan Yadav : The hon’ble MP wanted to ascertain the adequacy of farmers’ income to meet their income even if it is doubled by 2022.
Response by Dr. Ramesh Chand: He clarified that doubling farmers’ income must be in real time, not on account of inflation. If the inflation cause 70 per cent rises in prices, then farmer’s income must be augmented by 270 per cent. He further advocated for a balance between farmers’ interest and consumers’ interest. He suggested that farmers’ income may be doubled through increased productivity, market competiveness and removal of middlemen.
Intervention by hon’ble Member of Parliament Shri Ajay Mishra Teni : The hon’ble MP raised following queries-
Response by Dr. Ramesh Chand: He outlined the reasons for which special attention is accorded to farming in every country including USA where only 2 per cent of population is engaged in agriculture. He stated that one third of total subsidy goes to farmers in India. Further, Government is extending 75 lakh for setting up of e-NAM. However, the concept needs more attention on practical ground, specially from State Governments as market is a State subject.
On the next day of workshop, Shri S. K. Pattanayak, Secretary, DAC&FW and Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD appeared as experts. Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare also attended the workshop and responded to many queries raised by the parliamentarians.
Shri S. K. Pattanayak: He presented the current scenario of agriculture with following facts and figures-
He outlined the following major challenges to agricultural sector in India -
He identified the following specific challenges to agricultural sector in the country
Shri S. K. Pattanayak spelt out following possibilities and solution and elaborated upon the steps taken/being taken by the Government to overcome the above challenges to Indian agriculture-
While interacting with the distinguished parliamentarians, Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala identified following challenges for the Indian agriculture-
Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala informed the members of Parliament about the financial inclusion measures such as incentivizing digital transactions, cloud based services (CBS) in co-operative banks, RuPay Kisan Credit Card, miroATM, Financial Literacy Programme and Centres, Producer’s Organisation (PO), Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society (PACS) etc. He made the parliamentarians aware of the outcome of certain studies that small farmers are more efficient because they know how to optimize the use of their limited resources. He stated that within four years, NABARD has handed over Rs. 27,000 crore to the joint groups of small farmers. He urged the members of parliament to encourage the farmers to avail financial assistance from NABARD in group instead of individually.
He also talked about the ongoing Government Sponsored Schemes being implemented by the NABARD –
During the course of the workshop, interventions were made by the members of Parliament either to elaborate certain points or to discuss the problems being faced by the famers on ground level. The issues raised by the parliamentarians were relating to Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), MSP, Soil Health Scheme, crop insurance scheme etc. These issues were responded to by the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh himself who remained present throughout the workshop on its second day.
Issues raised by the Members on Krishi Sinchai Yojana: A member wanted to know how solar irrigation projects which are the most affordable among various irrigation projects may be linked to Krishi Sinchai Yojana. Another member stated that the scheme has not yielded the desired result as people are unaware of the scheme on ground level. A member emphasised the need for making farmers aware of the scheme and suggested for incorporating small irrigation projects in the scheme. A member also drew the attention of the hon’ble Minister that proposals have been sent under the scheme by various districts in Uttar Pradesh, however funds have not been released. Hon’ble MP Shri Ganesh Singh and many other members reiterated the same. It was also pointed out that many irrigation projects are receiving funds under old schemes. The member wanted to know how such funding under the old scheme can be clubbed to the new irrigation scheme. Hon’ble MP Shri Sushil Kumar Singh stated that district irrigation plans have been prepared by various districts. However, in some States including Bihar, District Plan Committee is not functional. He therefor suggested that a planning or irrigation committee must be put in place at district levels wherein public representatives may also suggest or recommend certain projects as per the demands so as to ensure that farmers get optimal benefit.
Response by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Radha Mohan Singh – He stated that Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) has been formulated amalgamating ongoing schemes viz. Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) of the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (MoWR,RD&GR), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) of Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the On Farm Water Management (OFWM) of Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC) with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet ko pani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop' in a focused manner with end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities.
While replying to the questions raised by the members of Parliament, he further stated that more than 80 per cent funding under the scheme cater to the financial need of larger projects. However, Micro Irrigation Sprinkler is also one of the components of the scheme. He further clarified that although 23 irrigation projects which are due for completion in 2017 are funded by the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Agriculture are ensuring that these are completed within time. He added that funds have also been allotted for 99 projects which had been lying pending for the last 20-25 years. Responding to priority to be accorded to the irrigation projects recommended by the public representatives, he stated that such provision is there in the guidelines. He suggested that a meeting of MPs with the Ministry may be organised to address their concerns.
Intervention by Shri Virendra Singh: He suggested that while identifying challenges for agriculture, we must focus on solutions too.
Intervention by Shri Laxmi Narayan Yadav: He raised the issue of problems being faced by the farmers due to big drops in prices of crops following their bumper production. He also wanted to know if any surveillance mechanism can be put in place to ascertain the demand and production status of various agricultural produce in different parts of the world.
Intervention by Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari: He wanted to know the steps taken/being taken by the Government to meet the challenges following drought, excessive rain, big drops in prices of crops following their bumper production or price rise on account of low production. He also added that the number of people engaged in agricultural activities is declining. He wanted to know how this trend can be reversed.
Response: Shri S. K. Pattanayak apprised the members of Parliament of the steps taken by the Government to control drops in prices of agricultural produce, particularly pulses following their high production i.e lifting of stock limits in all the States, permission to export 50,000 tons of organic pulses, relaxation in rules for export of ground nuts, quantitative restrictions on import of agricultural produces from the countries which whom India has free trade agreement.
Intervention by Shri Bhagat Singh Koshyari: He raised the issue of pathetic condition of agriculture universities.
Response by Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare: He said that agriculture universities are being run by the State Governments. The central Government is assisting them to improve their standard. Further, accreditation of such universities has also begun.
Intervention: A member raised following issues-
Intervention by Shri Virendra Singh: He pointed out to certain anomalies in fixing of price of agricultural commodities and called for a debate on the issue. He said that farmers are not only producers but also consumers. It’s an anomaly that farmers as producers have no say in fixing prices of their produce. He further suggested that agricultural produce should not be limited to grains and pulses. Production of fruits and vegetables should be incentivised. He also emphasised on the need for developing animal husbandry as an alternative employment for farmers.
Intervention by Shri Bhairon Prasad Mishra: He said that more number of rural banks should be opened in the country. Secretary, Shri Pattanayak responded that a fresh circular/guideline is being issued in this regard.
At the end of the workshop, Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare gave detailed replies to all the questions and suggestions. He underlined the following important steps undertaken by the Government-