10 Significant Agricultural Issues and Potential Solutions

by New User Professional User
The following are some of the key issues that have been covered along with potential solutions. Many agricultural problems and solutions, some of which are man-made and others of which are natural, beset the agricultural sector.

1. Tiny and dispersed land-holdings:

The 189.7 million hectares of total cropped land and the 141.2 million hectares of net sown land that seemed plenty in 1999–2000 are divided into small and dispersed holdings that are not economically sustainable.

In 1970–1971 the average holding size was 2.28 hectares; this decreased to 1.82 hectares in 1980–1981 and to 1.50 hectares in 1995–1996. With the unlimited subdivision of the land holdings, the holdings' size will further shrink.

In highly inhabited and intensively farmed regions like Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar, and the eastern half of Uttar Pradesh, where the average size of land holdings is less than one hectare and in some areas it is less than even 0.5 hectare, the issue of tiny and fragmented holdings is especially problematic.

Larger average holding sizes of 4 and 7.15 hectares are seen in Nagaland, which practises the prevalent "Jhoom" (shifting agriculture), and in Rajasthan, which has extensive sandy stretches. States like Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh, which have high net sown area percentages, have holding sizes above the national average.

The fact that a significant chunk of 59 percent of holdings in 1990–1991 were marginal (less than 1 hectare), accounting for 14.9% of the total managed area, is disturbing. Small holdings (1-2 hectares) made up another 19% of the total operational area, or 17.3%.

Just 1.6% of all holdings were large holdings (above 10 hectares), yet they occupied 17.4% of the operational area (Table 22.1). As a result, there is a significant divide between small farmers, medium farmers (a group of peasants), and large farmers (landlords).

Our inheritance rules are the fundamental cause of this unfortunate situation. Each of the father's sons receives an equal share of the land. This land distribution is scattered in nature rather than a collection or consolidation.

Given that various tracts have varying degrees of fertility, distribution should be done accordingly. If there are four tracts of property that need to be divided between two sons, each son will receive a lesser portion of each tract. In this way, with each succeeding generation, the holdings became smaller and more dispersed.

One of the key reasons for our low agricultural output and the undeveloped status of our agriculture is the sub-division and fragmentation of the holdings. Moving animals, tools, manure, seeds, and other agricultural supplies from one plot of land to another wastes a lot of time and labour.

With such little and dispersed areas, irrigation becomes challenging. Moreover, setting up borders wastes a significant amount of productive agricultural land. The farmer cannot focus on making improvements in such an environment.

The only solution to this vexing issue is the consolidation of holdings, which entails the reallocation of fragmented holdings and the establishment of farms made up of only one or a few parcels as opposed to the several patches that were formerly in each peasant's hands.

Yet regrettably, this strategy has not had much success. Although while virtually all of the states have passed legislation allowing for holdings consolidation, only Punjab, Haryana, and a small portion of Uttar Pradesh have really put it into practise.

Up to 1990–1991 there had been consolidation of around 45 million holdings across Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh. Cooperative farming, in which the farmers pool their resources and divide the profits, is an alternative solution to this issue.

2. Seeds:

For increased crop yields and steady expansion in agricultural output, seeds are a crucial and fundamental input. The distribution of seed of guaranteed quality is just as important as its manufacture. Sadly, most farmers, especially small and marginal farmers, cannot afford high-quality seeds due to the high cost of superior seeds.

The Indian government created the National Seeds Corporation (NSC) in 1963 and the State Farmers Corporation of India (SFCI) in 1969 to address this issue. Moreover, 13 State Seed Companies (SSCs) were created to increase the supply of enhanced seeds to the farmers. The High Yielding Variety Plan (HYVP) was introduced in 1966–1967 as a key initiative to boost the nation's supply of food grains.

The role of the seed industry is not only to produce an adequate amount of high-quality seeds, but also to achieve varietal diversity to suit the various agro-climatic zones of the nation. The seed industry has demonstrated impressive growth in the past and is anticipated to continue to offer potential for growth in agricultural production.

The policy declarations are intended to support the nation's goals for food and nutritional security by providing farmers with access to sufficient amounts of high-quality seed at the right time, location, and price.

The majority of the seeds programme uses a restricted generation strategy. The approach distinguishes between breeder, foundation, and certified seeds as the three types of generation. Breeder seed is the foundational seed and the initial step in the generation of seeds. The offspring of breeder seed, foundation seed is the next stage in the process of seed creation.

The product of foundation seed, certified seed is the last stage in the cycle of seed production. During 2001-2002 and 2005-2006, the production of foundation and breeder seeds as well as certified seed distribution increased at yearly average rates of 3.4%, 7.5%, and 9.5%, respectively.

3. Manures, fertilisers, and biocides:

For thousands of years, Indian soils have been utilised to grow crops without much concern for replenishment. This has caused soils to become exhausted and depleted, which has decreased their yield. Nearly all crops have some of the lowest average yields in the whole planet. More manures and fertilisers can be used to address this major issue.

Manures and fertilisers serve the same purpose for soils as healthy food does for the human body. A well-nourished soil is capable of producing good harvests, just as a well-nourished body is capable of doing any competent task. According to estimates, increasing fertiliser application accounts for around 70% of increases in agricultural productivity.

Hence, one indicator of agricultural success is a rise in fertiliser usage. Yet, it is difficult to supply enough manures and fertilisers throughout a country the size of India that is populated by low-income peasants. The finest manure for soils is cow dung.

Nevertheless, its usage as such is constrained since a significant amount of cow dung is utilised as cooking fuel in the form of dung cakes. The issue has been made more difficult by a decrease in the quantity of firewood and a rise in the demand for fuel in rural areas as a result of population growth. Chemical fertilisers are expensive and frequently out of the price range of small-scale farmers. So, the fertiliser issue is both serious and intricate.

Organic manures are thought to be crucial for maintaining healthy soil. There is now underutilization of the nation's potential 650 million tonnes of rural and 160 lakh tonnes of urban compost. By utilising this capability, the dual issues of garbage disposal and soil fertilisation will be resolved.

In particular, the government has heavily subsidised the use of chemical fertilisers as an incentive. Chemical fertilisers were seldom ever used at the period of Independence. The use of fertilisers rose dramatically as a consequence of government effort and a shift in the mindset of certain progressive farmers.

52 fertiliser quality control laboratories have been established around the nation to maintain the quality of the fertilisers. The Central Fertilizer Quality Control and Training Institute, which also has regional offices in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai, is located in Faridabad.

Crops, which made up around one-third of the total field yield at the time of Independence, suffer severe losses from pests, diseases, and weeds. To protect the crops and prevent losses, biocides (pesticides, herbicides, and weedicides) are employed. Increased usage of these inputs has prevented needless loss of many crops, particularly food crops. Yet, the widespread use of biocides has led to environmental contamination, which has a cost of its own.

4. Irrigation:

India is barely one-third irrigated, despite being the second-largest irrigated nation in the world after China. In a tropical monsoon nation like India where rainfall is unpredictable, unreliable, and inconsistent, irrigation is the most crucial agricultural input. India cannot make sustained development in agriculture until and until more than half of the cultivated land is placed under guaranteed irrigation.

The success story of agricultural development in Punjab, Haryana, and the western portion of Uttar Pradesh, where more than half of the cultivated land is under irrigation, attests to this. To increase agricultural productivity, irrigation is still needed for large areas.

Nonetheless, caution must be used to prevent the negative impacts of over-irrigation, especially in places that use canals for irrigation. Due to improper irrigation, large swaths of land in Punjab and Haryana have been rendered worthless (areas afflicted by salinity, alkalinity, and water logging).

5. Lack of mechanisation:

Although extensive mechanisation of agriculture in various regions of the nation, the majority of agricultural activities are still conducted by hand in the majority of those regions, utilising basic and traditional equipment and implements like wooden sickles and ploughs.

Plowing, seeding, irrigating, thinning and pruning, weeding, harvesting, threshing, and transporting the crops all need little to no usage of machinery. Particularly with small and marginal farms, this is the case. Large amounts of human labour are wasted as a result, and productivity per worker is poor.

Agriculture must be mechanised immediately in order to reduce labour waste and improve farming's practicality and effectiveness. Agricultural machinery and implements are an essential component of timely and effective agricultural operations, enabling repeated crops and consequently boosting output.

Since India's independence, some effort has been made on mechanising agriculture. The Green Revolution that began in the 1960s brought a greater awareness of the need for mechanisation. To enable farmers to acquire tractors, power tillers, harvesters, and other machinery, strategies and programmes have been developed to replace conventional and inefficient implements with modern ones.

Moreover, a sizable industrial foundation for the production of agricultural machinery has been established. From barely 0.3 kW per hectare in 1971–1972, power availability for carrying out different agricultural activities climbed to a level of 14 kW per hectare in 2003–2004.

The increased use of tractors, power tillers, combine harvesters, irrigation pumps, and other power-driven machinery was the cause of this rise. From 40% in 1971 to 84% in 2003–04, mechanical and electrical power has grown in importance.

West Bengal had the largest average sales of power tillers over the same five-year period ending in 2003–04, while Uttar Pradesh had the highest average sales of tractors.

In order to carry out farm activities quickly and accurately and to streamline the agricultural production process, farmers are being strongly encouraged to utilise technologically sophisticated agricultural equipment.

6. Soil Erosion:

Vast areas of productive land are subject to wind and water-induced soil erosion. It is necessary to properly treat this region and bring it back to fertility.

7. Agricultural Marketing:

In rural India, agricultural marketing is still in poor condition. Farmers must rely on local traders and intermediaries to dispose of their farm products, which are sold at a loss because there are no reliable marketing facilities.

The majority of the time, these farmers are compelled by socioeconomic circumstances to continue selling their goods at a loss. Farmers typically sell their produce to the moneylender from whom they borrow money in tiny settlements.

According to estimates, farmers in the village alone sell 85% of the wheat and 75% of the oil seeds produced in Uttar Pradesh, 90% of the jute produced in West Bengal, 70% of the oilseeds and 35% of the cotton produced in Punjab. Due to their incapacity to wait for a long time after harvesting their crops, the impoverished farmers find themselves in this scenario.

The impoverished farmer is compelled to sell the crop at whatever price is offered to him in order to fulfil his obligations and settle his debt. The Rural Credit Survey Report noted correctly that, in general, farmers sell their produce at an unfavourable location and time and typically receive unfavourable terms.

Private merchants and intermediaries predominate in the marketing and selling of agricultural products in the absence of a formalised marketing framework. The consumer's burden is increased by the middlemen's compensation for their services, but the producer does not gain anything comparable.

Several market studies have shown that intermediaries steal around 48% of the price of rice, 52% of the price of potatoes, and 60% of the price of groundnuts from consumers.
The government has introduced regulated marketplaces to free the farmer from the grasp of money lenders and middlemen.

These marketplaces often establish a system of competitive purchasing, aid in the elimination of fraud, secure the use of standardised weights and measures, and provide appropriate mechanisms for dispute resolution, so ensuring that the producers are not exploited and earn fair prices.

8. Insufficient storage facilities:

 In the rural areas, storage facilities are either nonexistent or woefully inadequate. In such circumstances, the farmers are obligated to sell their food as soon as it is harvested at the going market rates, which are invariably low. The farmers lose their rightful revenue as a result of these distress sales.

The Parse Committee calculated that 9.3% of post-harvest losses were attributable to inadequate storage conditions alone, accounting for approximately 6.6 percent of those losses.  Thus, it is crucial to use scientific storage to prevent losses and benefit both farmers and consumers.

Several organisations are now involved in warehouse and storage activities. Among the key organisations working on this project are the Central Warehousing Corporation, State Warehousing Corporation, and the Food Corporation of India (F.C.I.). These organisations aid in creating a buffer supply that can be used in an emergency. During 1979–1980, the Central Government has been putting the nationwide grid of rural godowns into practise.

This plan offers farmers, especially small and marginal farmers, storage facilities close to their fields. For the sake of the agricultural community's economic interests, the Working Group on Additional Storage Facilities in Rural Areas has suggested a plan to build a network of Rural Storage Centers.

9. Insufficient mobility:

The absence of affordable and effective transportation is one of the major obstacles facing agriculture. Even now, there are thousands of towns that are poorly connected to either market centres or important roadways.

In rural regions, the majority of roads are Kutcha (bullock-cart roads), which are worthless during the wet season. Farmers are obliged to sell their goods at a cheap price in the local market since they are unable to transport it to the major market under this situation. The job of connecting every community with a metal road is enormous.

10. Capital shortage:

Agriculture is a significant business that, like all other industries, depends on funding. With the development of agricultural technology, the importance of capital input is growing. The agriculturalist must borrow money to increase the pace of agricultural output since his capital is tied up in his fields and stocks.

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Created on Mar 29th 2023 13:07. Viewed 167 times.


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