The contribution of the agricultural sector to the Indian economy is 15.4% in contrast with the world average of 6.4% - a number that amplifies the potential of India’s agricultural sector. However, adherence to a traditional approach and unscientific methods of farming still loom large over the agricultural space. With the AtmaNirbhar Bharat Abhiyan ushering much needed reforms in this sector, it becomes imperative to introspect and overhaul agriculture while acknowledging the efficiency that these upgrades would bring into the system.
Improving The Low Productivity Of Indian Agriculture
A stark difference in yields can be gauged from the fact that India’s yield rates for rice and wheat are significantly lower than its BRICs counterparts. If we adopt the Chinese model of production for our two major crops, we will double our yields while reducing the land coverage to almost half.
Government’s ambition to wake India’s agriculture sector from slumber led to the adoption of micro-irrigation and Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) practices. In 2015 through the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), it saw the potential of implementing micro irrigation over almost 70 mn ha by 2025.
According to the Economic Survey, the 2020 yield has increased to 20- 30% and water-saving up to 50% due to the implementation of micro-irrigation practices. Additionally, focus on implementing INM to maintain the soil fertility will help provide an optimum level of nutrients to the plants, improve aeration, water drainage and retention capacity of the soil for sustaining the desired productivity.
Improving Access To Finance
A 2018 RBI report stated that only 42.2% of agricultural credit disbursed in 2016-2017 reached the small and marginal farmers. This highlights the alignment issue in agricultural credit disbursal and farmers who need it the most. Therefore, it’s imperative to build a sustainable environment with relevant stakeholders (Banks and NBFC’s) to strengthen financial access for the farmer. This would lead to a positive change in the entire agricultural economy.
Easing Uncertainty At Each Level Of The Value Chain
According to an economic survey by Indian government, climate change could hurt farmers’ income by up to 20-25% in the medium term. To reduce the impact of climate change, a focus on different facets of an agricultural chain is an urgent need. Various tactics like drought-resistant seeds, usage of specific fertilizers, adoption of micro-irrigation, following better preservation practices, establishing forward linkages, and driving innovation in agriculture through new technology, can be adopted.
Promoting Digital Farming
Bringing about metamorphosis in agriculture sector also requires active involvement and contribution of various stakeholders. It is through this process that agriculture in India can experience growth in qualitative terms
Randhir Chauhan, MD, Netafim India and Senior Vice President, Netafim Ltd.
With the dawn of a new era of data connectivity, the Indian agriculture is experiencing a paradigm shift. Digital farming is a new tool which gives better control, ability to manage crop cycle and helps to make decisions on real time basis. These solutions can be customized to the need of each crop so that you can grow more with less, all round the year. Digital farming can help all the stakeholders in the agriculture economy. For instance:
a. For farmers: The data will help farmers to make decisions about crop nutrition, crop sale and crop protection.
b. Traders: Predictability that would lead in planning local as well as cross-border trading.
c. Banks: Predictability to improve lending
d. Government: Risk mitigations and fiscal planning
Now, more than ever, it is important to realize that agriculture in India is a dynamic space with vast scope for change. Merely understanding the issues of this sector and proposing credible solutions to tackle them is not enough. Bringing about metamorphosis in this sector also requires active involvement and contribution of various stakeholders. It is through this process that agriculture in India can experience growth in qualitative terms.