Agriculture

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Critically examine the causes of farm distress in India and possible solutions needed to address this distress. (200 Words)

Farmer suicides have been an issue of debate in the recent past. Some of the reasons for farm distress are
  • Financial issues
    • Low income returns – the same investment, in other fields have provided better returns
    • Low and stagnating yields and increasing input costs
    • Most of the agriculture sector comprises of small and marginal farmers, who are affected greatly because of this
    • Credit issues – no effective, low interest lenders, leading to high interest money lenders increasing the vulnerability of the household
    • Insurance issues – most of the farmers are not even aware of the various crop insurance instruments in the market
  • Excessive dependence on monsoons
    • Adding to the problems is unpredictable weather and dependence on monsoon
    • Unpreparedness for the climate changes because of which crops get destroyed by excessive floods or drought
  • Declining food prices most common in sugar, cereals and meat (FAO)
    • MSP have been an instrument to fight declining prices have hardly been effective at the farm level
  • Lack of expert advice
  • Inadequate irrigation facilities
Some of the long pending reforms include
    1. Climate resilient agriculture : in the backdrop of increasing concern for climate change, this needs to be harnessed under the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture to improve productivity and lessen damage
    2. Introduction of corporate farming : help farmers getting required credit and technology to upgrade
    3. Increasing productivity through adoption of new technologies, diversifying farm activities by promoting horticulture, animal husbandry and fisheries. T
    4. here is a need to promote extension services
    5. Creating a National Agriculture Market which would have the incidental benefit of regulating the price rise
    6. Price Stabilisation fund has already been put in place to regulate price volatility and to mitigate hardships of consumers
    7. Better income can be deployed through the various insurance schemes for agriculture sector like the National Agricultural Insurance scheme, National Agricultural Income Insurance scheme, increasing funds through the Rural infrastructure Development fund setup in NABARD.
    8. Enabling the transfer of knowledge from “lab to land” through expert advice through KVKs
Even though the reforms take multiple faces, there is an increasing need to generate awareness to avail utility of such services which should be the foremost priority of the government which can be facilitated through community participation.
Critically analyse problems faced by farmers and consequences of these problems in the cotton growing belt of the Vidarbha region. (200 Words)
Vidarbha region of Maharashtra has become synonymous with “farmer suicides”; exhibiting the┬ádeteriorated agrarian situation of the region; reasons for this agricultural distress are:
    1. Unseasonal rains & hailstorms: have ruined cotton crop; the produce this year is almost half of harvest in 2014.
    2. Lower MSP: MSP for cotton has been steadily decreased by GoI; reduced from Rs 5000 (last year) to Rs 4050 per quintal for 2014-15.
    3. Inflation: has enhanced agro-inputs such as fertilizers, seeds and pesticides over years.
    4. Lack of irrigation facilities: has made farming rain dependent; vagaries of monsoons hamper farm output.
    5. Global slowdown: has reduced cotton demand from international markets such as china & U.S; cotton prices have come down.
    6. Lack of farm credit: famers have to depend on non-institutional sources; interest rates are exorbitant; mounting debts only adds to woes.
    7. Lack of insurance: crop insurance is almost unknown to famers of the region;
Consequences:
  • Mounting distress on farming community takes toll; as can be seen from rising number of suicide cases among famers of the region.
  • Solution lies not in announcing successive loan waiver scheme as announced by GoI but in ensuring better infrastructure in the region in form of irrigation & electricity; ensure timely farm credit to farming community; eliminate intermediaries in cotton by boosting SSIs in the region.