The approach to solving problems in Indian Agriculture has to be problem based, and the problems are different in different areas, it is high time we forget “one size fits all” kind of approach, and map the problems specific to area, prioritize them and bring measures which cater to those specific problems, we talk about decentralization in political democracy, the same level of decentralized approach needs to be followed for Agriculture.
Here I’d like to list the problems in our Agriculture, what could be done to solve them lies in the problem itself.
- The land holding size in India is decreasing day after day, average landholding size is 1.16 hectare.
- The land records are absolutely haywire, every village has land litigation problems, and these two problems wouldn’t encourage the investment in agriculture.
- Agriculture accounts for about 55% employment in country, and most of it are menial jobs for landless labourers, in short, there is a lot of Absentee Landlordism.
- We have maximum area under cultivation of Pulses, maximum output is also of Pulses, yet we are 138th in yield of pulses in the world. The Yield per hectare is abysmally low. And is lowest for some of the staple food like jowar and bajra.
- The ultimate irrigation potential of our country is huge around 140 million hectares but our irrigation potential realized is only about 70% of it (~100 million hectares) and to add upon the problem the utilization is only 87 million hectares. Thus there is huge gap between irrigation potential and utilization of it.
- The rate of creation of irrigation potential has been ever decreasing, it is as low as 0.5% per annum for various reasons like land acquisition, land litigation, lack of investment for small farmers to create farm canals.
- The water bodies like ponds, lakes have been encroached in various places, and in some they dried up because of non maintenance.
- The application of fertilizers is tilted towards the Nitrogenous fertilizers which is leading to the loss of productivity of soil. Urea has been subsidized and rest aren’t. There is absolutely no political will to deregulate urea prices and introduce nutrient based system.
- There is hardly any domestic production of MOP (Muriate of Potassium) fertilizer and its requirement is fully met by imports, and significant amount of Urea and DAP (Di Ammonium Phosphate) are also imported.
- Farmers are willing to use other fertilizers as well, but they hardly know what nutrients their soil consists of, there are no proper soil testing facilities.
- More than 80% farmers rely on the farm-saved seeds, and this has led to the low seed replacement rate.
- There is still significant amount of agricultural credit coming from non-institutional sources because of the requirement of collaterals , cumbersome banking procedures and absence of financial literacy among rural farmers.
- Not enough knowledge among farmers that they can insure their crop based on the weather. (How about making it as a package with loans availed?)
- The APMCs are still a problem and they have kind of become a Govt sponsored monopoly in agricultural marketing making sure middlemen exploit poor and gullible farmers.
- The concept of MSP is flawed and beyond economic logic, has forced FCI to store higher amount which is further increasing storage costs and MSP only for rice and wheat has forced farmers to grow them without having to look at support conditions.
While these are the problems in general, some are specific to some states while others are to some other states.