Boosting farmers’ income: ‘Tweak crop pattern, avoid import policy flip-flops’

The Survey states the shift in cultivation pattern towards pulses would also enable the government to maintain realistic buffer stocks of rice and wheat.

Boosting farmers’ income: ‘Tweak crop pattern, avoid import policy flip-flops’
The Survey also cautions the government against ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to price rise of essential commodities like pulses and edible oils.

Stating that the agriculture sector has been ‘resilient’ to the Covid-19 shock, the survey has recommended crop diversification towards oilseeds, pulses and horticulture through provisions of irrigation, credit and marketing infrastructure for promotion of sustainable agriculture.

It also suggested to the government to give thrust on animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries sectors for harnessing the potential of agriculture and allied sectors in boosting farmers income.

The Survey also cautions the government against ‘knee-jerk’ reactions to price rise of essential commodities like pulses and edible oils through frequent revisions of import duties (tariffs) for providing immediate relief to consumers through lower prices of commodities. It states such steps send ‘wrong signals to domestic producers and create an environment of uncertainty.”

“The existing cropping pattern is skewed towards cultivation of sugarcane, paddy and wheat which has led to depletion of fresh groundwater resources at an alarming rate in many parts of our country,” the Survey has noted.

It stated that encouraging farmers to shift from cultivation of rice and wheat to pulses and oilseeds would help ensure that the country is self-reliant in pulses and oilseeds, and also assist in reducing import dependence.

The Survey states the shift in cultivation pattern towards pulses would also enable the government to maintain realistic buffer stocks of rice and wheat. At present, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and state government-owned agencies have rice and wheat stocks of 54.89 million tonne (MT) against the buffer stocks norms of 21.41 MT for January.

While stating that by increasing minimum support price (MSP) of oilseeds and pulses, the government is encouraging farmers to shift out of the water-intensive rice, wheat and sugarcane crops, the Survey has suggested that there is also a need for coordinated action from the state governments to facilitate the shift to high value and less water-consuming crops.

According to the survey, the agriculture sector is expected to grow by 3.9% in 2021-22, while the sector which employs more than 50% of India’s workforce, rose by 3.6 % in 2020-21. The livestock economy, a key component in the agriculture sector, grew at a CAGR of 8.15% during 2014-15 to 2019-20 (at constant prices).

Quoting the latest Situation Assessment Survey, the Survey has stated that the fragmentation of landholdings has led to alternate sources such as livestock, fishery and wage labour becoming significantly important for an agricultural household. “Increasing importance of allied sectors including animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries in growth and income of the farmers indicates that focus needs to shift more towards harnessing the potential of allied activities,” it has stated.

Stressing on the need for higher financial allocation for research and development in agriculture and allied sector, the survey has stated that every rupee spent on agricultural research and development yields better returns compared to returns on money spent on subsidies or other expenditure on inputs.

For reducing excessive use of chemical fertiliser, the survey suggested alternative fertilisers such as Nano urea and organic fertilisers which would protect the soil, which are more productive and contribute to higher nutrient use efficiency.

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