Loan Waiver Scheme: Analysis

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Current scenario of Indian Agriculture

  • Indian agriculture is characterised by low scale and low productivity.
  • About 85% of the operational landholdings in the country are below 5 acres and 67% farm households survive on an average landholding of one acre.
  • More than 50% of area under cultivation does not have access to irrigation.
  • Agriculture income generated is not adequate to meet farmers’ needs.

Vice President:

  • Free power and farm loan waivers cannot be a permanent solution to the problems in the agriculture sector : Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu
  • “We have a clamour for populism to win over people during elections. That is not going to solve the problem.”

Increasing trends of debt burden

  • The share of institutional loans disbursed to agriculture and allied sectors has risen from 9% in 2000-01 to 31.4% in 2015-16.
  • The amount of short-term institutional loans for agriculture exceeds the total cost of inputs including hired labour. This indicates that a part of crop loans is spent on non-agricultural purposes.
  • According to NSS surveys on Investment and Debt (NSS-I&D), loans taken by cultivators from non-institutional sources is rising faster than from institutional sources.
  • Much of the growth in household demand in rural India has been debt-ridden and not supported by growth in income.

 

Reasons:

  • Modern agriculture requires investment in farm machinery and inputs like seed, fertiliser, agri-chemicals, diesel and hired labour.
  • Savings generated from unremunerative crop enterprise are inadequate for such investments.
  • Rising expenses on health, education, social ceremonies and non-food items put additional financial demand on farm families.

Loan waiver scheme

  • States like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka have rolled out farm loan waiver schemes for immediate relief to farmers.
  • The demand for such measures is spreading to other States too.
  • Ultimate goal is to lessen the debt burden of distressed and vulnerable farmers and help them qualify for fresh loans.
  • The success of the loan waiver lies on the extent to which the benefits reach the needy farmers.

Drawbacks of loan waiver scheme

  • It covers only a tiny fraction of farmers. According to 2012-13 NSS-SAS, 48% of the agricultural households did not have any outstanding loan.
  • Out of the indebted agricultural households, about 39% borrowed only from non-institutional sources.
  • The farmers investing from their own savings and borrowing from non-institutional sources are equally vulnerable, but are outside the purview of loan waiver.
  • Provides only a partial relief because half of the institutional borrowing of a cultivator is for non-farm purposes.
  • Many household has multiple loans either from different sources or in the name of different family members, which entitles it to multiple loan waiving.
  • Loan waiving excludes agricultural labourers who are weaker than cultivators in bearing the economic distress.
  • It severely erodes the credit culture, with dire long-run consequences to the banking business.
  • Scheme is prone to serious exclusion and inclusion errors, as evidenced by the Comptroller and Auditor General’s findings in the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme, 2008.

Implementation errors

  • According to the CAG report, 13.46% of the accounts, eligible for the benefits under the scheme were not considered by the lending institutes while preparing the list of eligible farmers.
  • In 8.5% of the cases, the beneficiaries were not eligible for either debt waiver or debt relief but were granted the benefits.
  • Around 28% of the beneficiaries were not issued debt relief certificates which would have entitled them to fresh loans.

Other issues with loan waiver scheme:

  • Implications for other developmental expenditure, having a much larger multiplier effect on the economy.
  • A similar amount spent on improvement of agriculture infrastructure and other developmental activities would create a base for future growth and development of the sector.
  • Loan waiving can provide a short-term relief to a limited section of farmers;
  • It has a meagre chance of bringing farmers out of the vicious cycle of indebtedness.
  • There is no concrete evidence on reduction in agrarian distress following the first spell of all-India farm loan waiver in 2008.

Sustainable solutions

  • More inclusive alternative approach is to identify the vulnerable farmers based on certain criteria and give an equal amount as financial relief to the vulnerable and distressed families.
  • Raise income from agricultural activities and enhance access to non-farm sources of income
  • Strengthen the repayment capacity of the farmers by improving and stabilising their income.
  • Improved technology, expansion of irrigation coverage, and crop diversification towards high-value crops are appropriate measures for raising productivity and farmers’ income.
  • Another major source of increase in farmers’ income is remunerative prices for farm produce.
  • More public funding and support
  • Removal of old regulations and restrictions on agriculture to enable creation of a liberalised environment for investment, trading and marketing.
  • States must undertake and sincerely implement long-pending reforms in the agriculture sector with urgency.

Source:

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/think-beyond-loan-waivers/article19311079.ece

World Agriculture Prize

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  • First World Agriculture Prize was five to Prof. M. S. Swaminathan
  • Given by Indian Council of Food and Agriculture.
  • The ICFA’s  World Agricultural Prize carries a cash component of $1,00,000 and will recognise individuals who have served humanity through agriculture.
  • It will be an annual prize and would be presented to any individual or institution, importantly from Asian, African or Latin American countries who have played a seminal role in transforming agriculture globally and saving humanity from the curse of hunger.
  • Prof. Swaminathan is known as Father of Green Revolution in India and is renowned worldwide for his basic and applied research in genetics, cytogenetics, radiation and chemical mutagenesis, food and biodiversity conservation.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme has hailed him as ‘The Father of Economic Ecology’ owing to his commitment towards the ever-green revolution movement in agriculture.

Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF)

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FAIDF:

  • To double farmers’ income by 2022 the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved creation of FAIDF recently.
  • The proposal for creation of fund was made in budget 2018-19.

 

Salient features of the fund

  • The main aim is to boost fish production to achieve the target of producing 15 million tonnes of fish production by 2020 and 20 million tonnes by 2022-23 from current production of 11.4 million tonnes. The aim to achieve this target was set under Blue revolution.
  • The nodal agencies for the fund will be National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), National Cooperatives Development Corporation (NCDC) and scheduled banks.
  • The fund being raised by nodal loaning entities (NLE).
  • The estimated fund size is about 7522 crore that will benefit country in both inland and marine fisheries areas.
  • The fund will involve in attracting private investment and technologies in creation and management of fisheries all around the count

Blue Revolution (Fishing)

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Facts:

  • Fishing in India is an important economic activity and emerging sector.
  • India’s fish production is estimated at around 12 million tonnes annually.
  • India has become the second largest fish producing and aquaculture industry in the world.
  • In aquaculture, India is second to china with a share of 6% in global aquaculture.
  • The fisheries sector employed over 14.5 million people directly and many more indirectly.
  • At present, Fish production contributes to around 1% to GDP of country and 5% to agricultural GDP of country.
  •  India exports one tenth of its Fish produced.
  • The contribution of fish from the seas has lowered now and the share is rising from inland farming.

Government Initiatives:

  • The Indian government has taken a lot of other efforts to boost up Indian aquaculture market such as
    • Integrating all the existing schemes under Blue Revolution,
    • Establishing  ‘Brood bank’ for commercially important species to ensure production and supply of certified broods to hatcheries in the country,
    • developing cold water fishery,
    • improving the manpower requirements of the fisheries programs.
  • Government has established a fund named FAIDF to boost fishing.

Way Forward:

Overall, fisheries is a sunrise sector having a lot of future growth possibilities. All the 3 sub sectors viz. Inland, Aquaculture and Marine fisheries have a lot of scope for improvement. The recent step of creating FAIDF is a praised step to boost the fisheries sector to the desired level.

Organic Farming : Sikkim Case Study

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  • Sikkim is first organic state in the world and all farmlands in the state are certified organic.
  • State’s policy approach reaches beyond organic production and has proven transformational for its citizens.
  • It primarily focuses socioeconomic aspects such as consumption and market expansion, cultural aspects as well as health, education, rural development and sustainable tourism.
  • The organic farming policy implemented by state has phased out chemical fertilisers and pesticides, and achieved total ban on sale and use of chemical pesticides in the state.
  • The transition has benefitted more than 66000 farming families in state.
  • Transition to 100% organic state also has greatly benefited its tourism sector and numbers of tourists have increased by over 50% between 2014 and 2017. 
  • With this Sikkim has set excellent example for other Indian states and countries worldwide for successfully upscale agroecology.
  • Sikkim was awarded UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Future Policy Gold Award (Gold Prize) for its achievement in becoming the world’s first totally organic agriculture state.

M.S. Swaminathan Commission (Agriculture)

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Commission:

  • The government of India constituted the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) on November 18, 2004.
  • The NCF was chaired by Professor M.S. Swaminathan.
  • It submitted five reports to the government.
  • The reports had suggestions for “faster and more inclusive growth” for farmers as was envisaged in the Planning Commission’s Approach to 11th Five Year Plan.
  • The fifth report was the most crucial as it contained suggestions for inclusive growth of farmers and agriculture sector.
  • NCF’s Swaminathan Commission Report aimed at working out a system for food and nutrition security, sustainability in the farming system, enhancing quality and cost competitiveness of farm commodities and also to recommend measures for credit and other marketing related steps.
  • Dr Swaminathan had requested the government to implement the recommendations given in the report so that it could provide minimum support price for grains, safeguard the interest of small farmers and addressing the issue of increasing risk overtaking agriculture as a profession.

 

Observations

  • The Commission observed that farmers needed to have an assured access to and control over rightful basic resources. These basic resources include land, water, bioresources, credit and insurance, technology and knowledge management, and markets.
  • It observed that agriculture must be implemented in the concurrent list from the state list — hence putting it as a matter of concern for both the Union and the states.

 

Recommendations

  • One of the key reforms was land reforms. It was aimed to address the issue of access to and for both crops and livestock. The commission said that the inequality in landholdings in shown starkly in land ownership. It said that in 1991-92, the share of the bottom 50 per cent of the rural households in the country’s total land ownership was only three per cent. The top 10 per cent owned as much as 54 per cent.
  • Land Reforms: Distribution of ceiling-surplus and waste lands; prevention of diversion of prime agricultural land and forest to corporate sector for non-agricultural use; to ensure grazing rights are provided and seasonal access is allowed in forests to tribals and pastoralists. It recommended access to common property resources. One main case was establishing a National Land Use Advisory Service. The purpose of this service would be to connect land usage decisions with ecological meteorological and marketing factors.
  • Irrigation Reforms: It recommended framing a set of reforms to provide farmers with “sustained and equitable” access to water for irrigation. Ensuring boost in water supply by rainwater harvesting, water level recharging by mandatory aquifers; Million Wells Recharge programme to be initiated targeted at private wells. To target increase in investment in irrigation sector under 11th five year plan.
  • Productivity Growth: NCF said that with the objective of achieving higher productivity growth, it recommended “Substantial increase in public investment in agriculture-related infrastructure particularly in irrigation, drainage, land development, water conservation, research development and road connectivity etc.” It also recommended a national network of advanced soil testing labs with an aim to test areas for apt micronutrient levels.
  • Credit and Insurance: Expand outreach of formal credit system; reduce crop loan interest rates to 4%; provide moratorium on debt recovery; agricultural risk fund; kisan credit cards for women farmers; integrated credit-cum-crop-livestock human health insurance package; crop insurance across country for all crops with reduced premiums; sustainable livelihoods for the poor, investment in human development; institutional development services etc
  • Food Security: The commission recommended Implementation of a universal public distribution system; reorganising delivery of nutrition support programmes on a life-cycle basis with panchayat participation and that of local bodies; elimination of micronutrient deficiency induced hunger and food cum fortification; community food and water banks to be operated by women self-help groups; help small and marginal farmers; formulate national food guarantee act with features as food for work and employment guarantee programmes.
  • Prevention of Farmer Suicides: Providing affordable health insurance at primary healthcare centres in villages; national rural health mission to be extended to suicide hotspots on priority basis; state level farmers’ commissions with representatives of farmers, restructuring of microfinance policies that may serve as a sort of livelihood finance; covering all crops by crop insurance; village to be the assessor and not the block, social security net that gives old age support with health insurance and aquifer recharge and rain water conservation; plans for decentralised water usage etc.

Coffee production in India

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  • India is 6th largest coffee producer in the world with 4% share after Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Indonesia and Ethiopia.
  • In India, coffee is cultivated in about 4.54 lakh hectares by 3.66 lakh coffee farmers and 98% of them are small farmers.
  • Karnataka (54%), Kerala (19%) and Tamil  Nadu (8%) are largest coffee producing states.
  • India accounts for only 4-5% of world’s coffee output, but exports 70-80% of its produce.
  • Italy, Russia and Germany are the top three buyers of Indian coffee. 
  • In India, two coffee varieties robusta (or Coffea canephora) and Coffea arabica are grown on large scale.

Millets

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Millets:

  • Millet is common term to categorize small-seeded grasses that are often termed nutri-cereals or dryland-cereals.
  • It mainly includes sorghum, ragi, pearl millet, small millet, proso millet, foxtail millet, barnyard millet, kodo millet etc.
  • They are adapted to harsh environment of semi-arid tropics.
  • They require low or no purchased inputs, thus they are backbone for dry land agriculture.

ias4sure.com - Millets

 

Benefits of Millets

  • Nutritional Superiority: 
    • Millets are nutritionally superior to wheat and rice owing to their higher levels of protein with more balanced amino acid profile, crude fibre and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, and Phosphorous.
    • It provides nutritional security and act as shield against nutritional deficiency, especially among children and women.
  • Health Benefits: 
    • Pellagra (niacin deficiency), Anaemia (iron deficiency), B-complex vitamin deficiency can be effectively tackled with intake of less expensive but nutritionally rich food grains like millets.
    • It can also help tackle health challenges such as obesity, diabetes and lifestyle problems as they are gluten free and also have low glycemic index and are high in dietary fibre and antioxidants.
  • Income and livelihood Source: 
    • Millets are important staple cereal crop for millions of small holder dryland farmers.
    • They offer nutrition, resilience, income and livelihood for farmers even in difficult times.
    • They have multiple untapped uses such as food, feed, fodder, biofuels and brewing. Thus, millets are Smart Food as they are Good for the Farmer and Good for Planet.
  • Climate Change: 
    • Millets are photo-insensitive and resilient to climate change.
    • They are hardy, resilient crops that have low carbon and water footprint.
    • They can withstand high temperatures and grow on poor soils with little or no external inputs.
    • In times of climate change they are often last crop standing and thus are good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

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Ministry/Department : Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare

 

Objective: To provide comprehensive insurance coverage against crop loss.

 

Scheme:

  • It was formulated in line with One Nation–One Scheme theme by replacing earlier two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) by incorporating their best features and removing their inherent drawbacks (shortcomings).
  • The scheme covers kharif, rabi crops as well as annual commercial and horticultural crops
  • New scheme will cover post-harvest losses apart from yield loss.
  • It will also provide farm level assessment for localised calamities including hailstorms, unseasonal rains, landslides and inundation, pests and diseases.
  • The scheme proposes mandatory use of remote sensing, smart phones and drones for quick estimation of crop loss to speed up the claim process.
  • The settlement of claims will be fastened for the full sum assured. About 25% of the likely claim will be settled directly on farmers account. There will not be a cap on the premium and reduction of the sum insured.
  • It also provides insurance benefits to Landless labourers.

 

What is new in this scheme?

  • It is open to all farmers
  • It is mandatory for farmers availing crop loans for notified crops in notified areas
  • It is optional for non-loanee farmers.
  • There is no capping in premium and one premium rate on pan-India basis. It is 1.5%, 2% and 5% for all Rabi, Kharif and annual horticultural/ commercial crops, respectively.
  • The balance premium will be paid by the government to provide full insured amount to the farmers.
  • There is no upper cap on government subsidy, even if the balance premium is 90 percent, the government will bear it
  • This scheme provides full coverage of insurance. While NAIS had full coverage, it was capped in the modified-NAIS scheme.
  • It also covers the localized risks such as hailstorm, landslide, inundation etc. Earlier schemes did not cover inundation.
  • It provides post-harvest coverage. The NAIS did not cover while the modified NAIS covered only coastal regions.
  • A cluster approach will be adopted under which a group of districts with variable risk profie will be allotted to an insurance company.
  • Union Government has decided to cover damages to crops in wild animal attacks under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna in select districts on an experimental basis.

 

Factual Information:

  • Launched in 2016
  • It will replace the existing two crop insurance schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified NAIS

 

ias4sure.com - Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

 

Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO)

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  • IFFCO is large scale fertiliser cooperative federation in India which is registered as Multistate Cooperative Society.
  • It is one of India’s biggest cooperative society which is wholly owned by Indian Cooperatives.
  • It was founded in 1967 with just 57 cooperatives and at present it has amalgamation of over 36,000 Indian Cooperatives with diversified business interests ranging from General Insurance to Rural Telecom apart from its core business of manufacturing and selling fertilisers.
  • It is headquartered in New Delhi.