According to a statement by the Ministry of Agriculture, the current policies are not proving effective in meeting the target of doubling the income of farmers by the year 2022. It is worth noting that it took India a total of 22 years to double the income of farmers from the year 1993-94 to the year 2015-16 at an annual growth rate of 3.31 per cent and if the Government of India from the year 2015-16 to the year 2022 If it wants to achieve the goal of doubling the income of farmers between -23, then it will need an annual growth rate of 10.4 percent in the real income of farmers. But in the last five years, the growth rate of agriculture has been only 2.9 percent. In this context, the idea of converting the Annadata (farmer) into Urjadata (solar power producer) has been emphasized in the budget.
Doubling farmers’ income
- Based on the recommendations made by the Ashok Dalwai Committee in the year 2016, the government has targeted to double the income of farmers by the year 2022.
- The committee is of the view that by considering the income of 2015-16 as the basis, if the growth rate of this sector continuously increases from 10.4 percent for seven years, by 2022, the income of farmers can be doubled.
- The growth in the income of the agricultural sector in India has been 3-4% for the last several decades, so doubling the income of farmers by the year 2022 seems an ambitious goal.
- Therefore, associating solar power generation with farmers can play an important role in meeting the government’s target of 2022.
Ashok Dalwai Committee
- To double farmers’ income by 2022, the government should transform the agricultural ecosystem by replacing the supply-led production system with the demand-led production system.
- The Ministry of Agriculture should set up a ‘Empowered Committee’ to monitor the strategy adopted to double the income of farmers.
- This report has also suggested that the production system should be restructured from a market perspective. It emphasizes nutritious cereals, dairy, livestock and fisheries instead of the production of simple cereals like wheat and rice.
- This report lays great emphasis on the management of water used in agriculture. Each year 20-25 lakh hectares of land will be brought under micro irrigation and climate based agriculture will be promoted.
Is the growth rate of more than 5 percent possible in the agriculture sector? (China- case study)
This was done by China in 1978 when it began its economic reforms. Significantly, agricultural reform was a primary agenda in China’s economic reforms. This work also set the stage for the manufacturing revolution in China, because in order to meet the domestic demand generated by the income revolution in the agricultural sector of China, the town and village enterprises- TVEs) was established.
Hindrance in farmers’ income growth
- Since the Green Revolution, there has not been any major agrarian reform in India and because of this the income of farmers is very low.
- With this, signs of slowdown can be seen in the current Indian economy, especially in the automobile sector where sales of tractors are down by 13 per cent, two-wheeler sales by 16 per cent and cars by 16 per cent.
- The main reason for this slowdown is the decrease in demand for goods (mainly rural demand). When the general public does not get the proper benefits, it also reduces its daily demand to some extent, due to which the speed of the industry also slows down.
The reason for the slow pace of agricultural development
- Low productivity: Currently, the productivity of most of India’s crops is much lower than the global average. The main reasons for this fact are the use of low quality seeds, lack of advanced technology in agriculture and lack of knowledge about better farming practices etc. About 53 percent of the agricultural area in India is such that where the required demand for water is more than the supply or availability of water. Apart from this, controlling inflation by reducing the prices of food items also goes against the farmers in a way.
- There is a huge gap in the demand and supply of skills in the Indian agricultural sector, due to which most of the problems are hindered by diversification of crops, adoption of right agriculture and value addition after crop production.
- Some policies (such as the provisions of the APMC Act) prohibit the private sector from building supply chains directly from farms to ports, causing farmers to depend on the mandi system.
- In addition, the Essential Commodities Act has also proved to be detrimental to large investments in agricultural technology and infrastructure.
The above factors point towards the weak infrastructure available for agri-exports and due to these, a steady decline in agri-exports is also being recorded.
Decline in agricultural exports
In the last 5 years, there has been a negative growth in agri-exports. Also, Minimum Support Prices-MSPs have also negatively impacted agricultural exports. Higher MSP adversely affects any economy, especially in relation to global prices. Going beyond global prices, a policy of higher MSP may prove futile for the economy. The direct result of all this is that Indian farmers are not even getting the full benefit of the global markets.
What should be done
- Efforts should be made to increase agricultural productivity in India in such a manner so as to cut down the cost per unit and make Indian agriculture more competitive. With this effect, exports will be encouraged.
- States should be encouraged to adopt the Model Contract Farming Act, 2018 and the Model Agriculture Land Leasing Act, 2016.
- Farmer producer organizations should be encouraged.
- Global competition in agriculture can be promoted by investing in research and development in agriculture and using research from laboratory to farms.
- Apart from this, investment on efficient water management and agri-export infrastructure is also necessary.
- India spends about 0.7 per cent of its agro-GDP on R&D in the agricultural sector and if India is to achieve its stated target (doubling farmers’ income) it will have to double this expenditure in the next five years. For this, the Essential Commodities Act can be amended so that a balance can be established between the interests of farmers and consumers.
- In consultation with all stakeholders, the Government of India should formulate a clear and stable agricultural export policy.
- India should encourage people associated with the agricultural sector to work in other areas and at the same time emphasize on development of other areas of the country like manufacturing, services and exports. To achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022-23, there is a need to focus on converting agriculture for survival into agribusiness.
Kusum Yojana (Farmer Energy Security and Upliftment Campaign)
The Kisan Energy Security and Upliftment Mahabhiyan (KUSUM / KUSUM) is a scheme of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. This scheme makes the following provisions:
- Installation of grid connected solar power plants in rural areas with a capacity of around 2 MW each.
- Installation of single off-grid solar water pumps to meet the irrigation needs of farmers who are not connected to the grid.
- Solarisation of 10 million solar powered agricultural pumps connected to the grid so that farmers can be free from the supply supplied by the grid and be able to get additional income by selling the surplus from the grid to distribution companies (DISCOMs).
Solar Energy and Agriculture
The challenge before India is to intensify its economic growth and to deal with the energy crisis, it is also necessary to take care of the environmental responsibility in dealing with this challenge. India has set up the International Solar Alliance (ISA) for growth in the field of renewable energy and also aims to produce 100 GW of solar power by the year 2022. In this perspective, the Central Government has launched the Kusum Scheme for solar energy promotion.
Solar energy is a good medium for renewable energy generation. But the biggest obstacle is the non-availability of land for installing solar panels on a large scale. Solar trees can play an important role in solving the above problem. Solar trees are like normal trees with solar panels in the form of leaves and its branches are made of metal. Solar trees take up 100 times less space relative to normal solar power plants but produce the same amount of energy produced from these plants. For example, the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) in Durgapur, West Bengal has built a solar tree, this solar tree occupies 4 square feet of space and produces 3 kW of energy. This type of solar tree can also be installed in off grid areas.
By encouraging farmers to install solar trees on their land, double benefit can be met. The height of solar trees is close to 10-12 feet, this will keep the crops in the fields getting sufficient solar light which will not inhibit photosynthesis in the plants, as well as the productivity of the plants will not be negatively affected and the farmer Can grow two crops. Solar trees will produce a large amount of surplus energy and this production will be purchased by the state governments, so that farmers will get additional income. It is important that 500 solar trees can be installed in one acre of land. This type of solar tree has been planted in many countries like Japan, China and Germany. But the lack of necessary capital to install such solar trees will be a major challenge. Private sector can be invited for investment for the installation of solar trees. Private sector can establish this type of trees in collaboration with farmers. This will benefit the farmers as well as the private sector. Thus, the income of farmers can be doubled easily.
The government aims to double farmers’ income by the year 2022, but keeping in mind the pace of the current agriculture sector, achieving this goal is not possible. The Ashok Dalwai Committee, set up to improve the agriculture sector, has given various recommendations to double the income of farmers, which can be achieved by gradually implementing it. Nevertheless, if the fast is to provide economic benefits to the farmers, then the solar tree can be a suitable solution. The government will have to prepare a road map for installing solar trees so that this scheme can be implemented, as well as protect the interests of farmers.
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