Agriculure-Challenges, Prospects and Solutions

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Agriculure-Challenges, Prospects and Solutions

Date: 20 Jul 2017
Speakers
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

Report

 

 

                                                                                                                              SPEAKER’S RESEARCH INITIATIVE (SRI)

                                                                                                                                                          Reports

 

Subject                 : Agriculture – Challenges, Prospects and Solutions

Date                     : 20 and 21 July, 2017

Venue                  : BPST Main Lecture Hall, Parliament Library Building,

                              New Delhi     

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

 

 Day 1

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 –

  • Record Production in 2016-17
  1. Cereals – 250.98 Million Tonnes
  2. Pulses – 22.4 Million Tonnes
  3. Oilseeds – 32.5 Million Tonnes

 

  •  Record Production of Horticulture Crops
  1. Fruits – 92.8 Million Tonnes
  2. Vegetables – 175.2 Million Tonnes

 

  •  Livestock Sector
  1. Largest Milk Producer – 155.5 Million Tonnes
  • Fish Production
  1. 2nd Largest Producer (10.8 Million Tonnes)

 

  • Agri-Exports – ₹2.35 Lakh Crores
  • Growth in GVA from Agriculture & Allied Sectors – 4.9% in 2016-17 (0.7% in 2015-16)

            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-

  • Fragmenting farms and competition for use of land for agricultural and non-agricultural purpose.

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.

  • Lack of irrigation facilities

Irrigation facilities cover 48% of agricultural land and the same varies from one State to others. Maharashtra (18%); Jharkhand (15%), Punjab (99%), Haryana (89%)

  • High risks, low productivity resulting in high yield gaps,
  • Availability of labour and rising wages
  • Poor access to technology, inputs, services and markets
  • Rising imports of edible oils and pulses at low rates
  • Low value-addition & poor post-harvest infrastructure
  • Lack of awareness about Minimum Support Price (MSP) & quality norms

 

           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.
         As of now, CACP recommends MSPs of 23 commodities, which comprise 7 cereals (paddy, wheat, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, barley and ragi), 5 pulses (gram, tur, moong, urad, lentil), 7 oilseeds (groundnut, rapeseed-mustard, soya bean, seasmum, sunflower, safflower, nigerseed), and 4 commercial crops (copra, sugarcane, cotton and raw jute).
The Commission draws a comprehensive questionnaire, and sends it to all the state governments and concerned National organizations and Ministries to seek their views. Subsequently, separate meetings are also held with farmers from different states, state governments, National organizations like Food Corporation of India (FCI), National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED), Competition Commission of India (CCI), Jute Corporation of India Ltd.  (JCI), trader's organizations, processing organizations, and key central Ministries. The Commission also makes visits to States for on-the-spot assessment of the various. Based on all these inputs, the Commission then finalizes its recommendations/reports, which are then submitted to the Government. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) of the Union government takes a final decision on the level of MSPs.

            To witness growth in farm income, Prof Vijay Paul Sharma made following suggestions-

  • Improve Crop Productivity: Technology & Extension
  • Reduce Cost of Cultivation: Rational Utilization of Inputs
  • Cropping Intensity (141%)
  • Irrigated Area & Efficiency (48%)
  • Remunerative Prices to Farmers
  • Divert Surplus Labour from Agriculture: Skill Building
  • Reduce Post-Harvest Losses & Wastages
  • Diversification to Farm (Horticulture, Livestock, Fisheries) & Non-Farm Activities
  • Value-Addition & Agro-Processing

            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-

  1. Feeding the billions forever - As by 2050, world population grows to 9.2 billion, food production must increase by more than 70 per cent and be sustainable.
  2. Temperature and southwest monsoon rainfall trend – Trend analysis of temperature (maximum and minimum) over the country for the period 1951-2015 shows a statistically significant increasing trend. Further, compared to maximum temperature, minimum temperature shows more increasing trend. At the same time, trend in southwest monsoon rainfall over the country shows a decreasing trend, which is statistically significant. (-1.13 mmyr1)
  3. Climate change – Two-third area is rain dependent in the country. Rainfed agriculture covers 60 per cent of the net sown area and contributes to more than 40 per cent of the food grain production.
  4. Water availability – Per capita annual water availability in India has reduced from 5177 m3 in 1951 to 1508 m3 by 2014. Further, per capita water availability in the country is expected to reduce further to 1339, 1154, 1137 m3 by 2025, 2050 and 2065. 54 per cent of India faces high to extremely high water stress.
  5. Soil quality and food security risk – Over 5.3 billion tones of soil is lost annually through water erosion with a loss of ~8 mt of plant nutrients (NPK). Erosion induced loss in crop production is 13.4 million tones which in economic terms is equivalent to Rs. 162.8 billion (based on MSP of the year 2010). Nutrient deficiencies across the country are 89, 80, 50, 24.7, 43.0, 12.1, 5.5 and 18.3% for N, P, K, S, Zn, Fe, Mn, Cu, and B respectively. While talking about the possibilities and solutions, Dr Mohapatra focused on developing and bringing new technologies in agricultural sector. He emphasized on the need for developing multiple stress tolerance for climate resilience and sustainability, doubling cropping intensity and utilising high yielding disease resistant variety of crops. As phenotyping is the major bottleneck that limits utilization of the genomics for accelerated crop improvement, he suggested use of phenomics which is emerging as new science to bridge the phenotype-genotype gap. He also spoke about the need of biofortification for nourishment.  Dr Mohapatra informed the distinguished MPs that cultivated area under certified organic farming has grown almost 17 fold in last one decade (42,000 ha in 2003-04 to 7.23 lakh ha in 2013-14) covering 27 States. He also talked about harnessing organic potential of agri-produce in North-Eastern Region. He advocated for mechanization for 2nd Green Revolution and informed that 6000 prototypes of farm machinery exist in the country. His power-point presentation included information on Climate Smart Villages, Agri-Robotics, innovations in Water Management, potential for food processing and livestock for livelihood with emphasis on indigenous breeds and low cost storage technology.

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-

  • Integration and Diversification
  • Input Management (Quality Seed, Water, Power)
  • Labour & Small Farm Mechnisation,
  • Post harvest losses, Value Addition, Market access
  • Cluster Farming, Infrastructure (Irrigation, COLD Chains …)
  • Access to information and Credit &Crop Insurance
  • Non-Farm and Off-Farm Employment and Income,
  • Capacity Building and Agri-Skills
  • Gender mainstreaming &Retaining Youth in agriculture

            Dr Ramesh Chand: During the course of power point presentation, Dr Ramesh Chand presented the following important aspects of Indian agriculture.

  • Scale

                - 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.

 

  • Structural imbalance in output and employment
  • Output 17%, Employment 48 per cent.

 

  • Long term growth 2.90 per cent per year. Wide fluctuations - Face weather shock and price shock.
  • Overall surplus: Net foreign exchange earnings 2014-15
  • Rs. 124019 crore;  6% of GDP agri; 1% of total GDP total

 

  • Agriculture matters a lot for Sustainability

- 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-

  1. Raising growth trajectory above 4 per cent
  2. Post reform rise in income disparities with non agriculture
  3. Growth in farm income not keeping pace with rise in farmers need and aspiration – which grow like those engaged in non agriculture.
  4. Rising indebtedness to meet agri and consumption expenses - Agrarian distress. Crop loan exceeds value of inputs including hired labour.
  5. Improving viability and economy of small holders
  6. Policy biases and imbalances in agriculture.
  7. Policy distortions in some states creating conflict between crop pattern and resource endowments
  8. Low or missing private sector participation at all levels
  9. Indiscriminate use of agro-chemicals
  10. Efficiency not improving
  11. Large yield gap – low adoption of technology
  12. Agricultural R&D: Modern science, breakthroughs.
  13. Very low livestock productivity
  14. Breakdown of extension machinery
  15. Serious Imbalances in Production and Demand
  16. Food wastage
  17. Agricultural markets not evolving
  18. Price crashes and gluts
  19. Food safety neglected at all stages

                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-

  1. Productivity: International and inter-district
  2. Efficiency:  Flood irrigation, broadcast fertiliser
  3. Area expansion through Crop intensity
  4. Crop diversification – high value crops
  5. Better price realization
  6. Allied activities to supplement farmers income
    1. Bee keeping
    2. Trees on private land
    3. On farm post harvest value addition

      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-

  1. As 65 percent of farmers possess less than one acre of land, how the existing schemes address the problems of these small farmers;
  2. The details and practicality of E marketing concept or e-National Agriculture Market (e-NAM)
  3. Impact of farmers on Government’s decision in current political system

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.

 

Day 2

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-

  • Average income per agriculture household grew from Rs. 25,380 (2002-03) to Rs. 77,112 (2012-13) at 11.5 percent growth rate.
  • 22.50 percent of farmers are below poverty line. India also witness high inter-State variations. (low in Punjab-0.5%, Kerala-3.2%, Haryana-4.3, high in Jharkhand- 45.3%, Chhattisgarh- 35.1%,  Assam- 32.1%, Odisha-28.4%.
  • As per 2011 Census, total number of farmer families is 11.9 crore.
  • Growth rate of agriculture is 0.2%, 0.7% and 4.9% during the year 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 respectively.
  • Share of agriculture & allied sector in the total economy at 2011-12 constant prices is 15.2% for the year 2016-17.
  • Sectoral composition of agriculture sector in 2015-16 was 15.4 percent for agriculture, forestry & logging, 9.3 percent for crop, 4.0 percent for livestock and 0.8 percent for fishing and aquaculture.

He outlined the following major challenges to agricultural sector in India -

  • Agricultural indebtedness- As per NSSO 2013, 52 percent of agricultural household are indebted. Average debt per farmer is Rs. 47,000. Further, institutions account for 60 percent of the outstanding loan.
  • Inadequate accessibility to institutional credit- Only 46 percent farmers availed crop loans in 2016-17. Coverage is poor in eatern and north-eastern region.
  • Fair and remunerative prices to farmers’ needs to be ensured.
  • Increasing cost of cultivation
  • Monsoon dependence – 52 percent of arable land is under rainfed cultivation. Vagaries of monsoon and lack of dependable irrigation make production unpredictable.
  • Decreasing land holding size – Average size of holding is 1.1 ha and majority of holding sizes of 0.65 ha.

He identified the following specific challenges to agricultural sector in the country

  • Low level and stagnation of yields
  • Yield Gaps between FLDs and farmers’ average
  • Sustaining pulse production
  • Huge deficit in domestic oilseed and vegetable oil production. 60 percent of domestic need met by imports, cost to exchequer.

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-

  • Enhancing Institutional Credit
  • Monetisation of farmers’ produce
  • Promoting soil health
  • Comprehensive Scheme for irrigation
  • Productivity gains for higher production
  • Promoting pulses production
  • Promotion of oilseeds and oil palm
  • Promoting horticulture
  • Promotion of sustainable agricultural practices
  • Mission Value Chain Development in North-Eastern Region through development of organic farming in the region
  • Promotion of agro forestry through sub-mission
  • Drought Management, and
  • Crop Insurance

While interacting with the distinguished parliamentarians, Dr Harsh Kumar Bhanwala identified following challenges for the Indian agriculture-

  • Share of GDP from Agriculture declined over the years to reach 17 % but population dependent on it did not decline commensurately
  • Increased marginalisation of holdings - less than 2 hectare holdings account for about 85 % of the operational holdings & 45 % area (Agricultural Census, 2010-11). 
  • The average size of the holding declined from 1.33 ha in 2000-01 to 1.15 in 2010-11
  • loss of soil fertility and productivity capacity due to problems like salinity and erosion
  • Challenges in Water Conservation / Management
  • Farmers primarily face risks: a) Production, b) Market/Price, c) Input, d) Technology   and e) Institutional risk
  • unfinished agenda in land reform
  • technology fatigue
  • Lack of opportunities for assured and remunerative price
  • Climate Change and extreme weather events

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 –

  • Agri-Clinics and Agri-Business Centres(ACABC) scheme. -to promote agricultural Extension through agricultural Professionals.
  • National Project on Organic Farming (NPOF) –promote commercial production of organic inputs through bio-fertilizer/bio-pesticide, Fruit/vegetable compost units
  • Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme (DEDS)
  • Encourage modern dairy farms, upgradation of technology etc.
  • Scheme was closed from 1 January 2015 to 30 April 2016.
  • Re-started from May-July 2016.
  • National Live Stock Mission Schemes (NLM) 

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-

  • Poor and unrealistic record of soil health. How soil health scheme addresses the same.
  • Utilisation of sprinkler sets made available on subsidised rate. How utilisation of the same can be binding on the farmers.
  • Better implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

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-

  • Budgetary provisions of Rs.40,000 crore for large irrigation projects and Rs.5000 crore for small irrigation projects,
  • Rs. 8,000 crore earmarked for strengthening of dairy infrastructure,
  • Computerisation for disbursal of loans to farmers to bring transparency
  • Setting up of 9000 laboratories under Soil Health Management till 31 March, 2017. Disbursement of Rs 09 crore out of Rs.12 crore fund corpus. 16 States have set up completed the project.
  • E-trading of agricultural produce and integration of agricultural markets.
  • District-wise contingency plan to assist farmers at the time of drought
  • Monitoring of implementation of schemes under the Agricultural Technology Management Mission,
  • Implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. Rs.16,000 crore deposited in 2016, expected claim Rs. 10,000 crore,
  • Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) as a Central Sector Scheme to support market interventions for price control of perishable agri-horticultural commodities. Cap on procurement of 20 percent of farm produce through market intervention has been relaxed to allow 40-50 percent of farm produce on request from the State Governments.
  • Launch of Scheme For Agro-Marine Processing And Development Of Agro-Processing Clusters (SAMPADA) to give a renewed thrust to the food processing sector in the country.
  • Construction of 24000 ‘pack houses’ for cleaning, grading and packing their farm products so as to get right price.