Agriculture notes upsc

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  1 Tags:   GM CROPS CRISIS-IN-AGRICULTURE   (use: “Infusion of technologies”, “soil health”, “disguised employment”)   - Agriculture needs to be treated as a knowledge-driven industry and not just as a traditional  vocation. This is because agricultural work is seen by educated people and the policymakers as unskilled work. It‟s an occupation having a long gestation period riddled with uncertainties. - The srcins of hoarding go back to WWII. - The developed countries are able to heavily support(subsidise) their agriculture as it falls in Green Box of AoA. This helped their farmers to innovate, invest and increase productivity by hedging risks associated with investments. It requires data collection and transparency.  Although for a developing country(Amber Box) is capital constrained but we must definitely strive for it, even if we have a greater burden of population.   - The main aim of storage should be preservation of quality and not quantity.   - Need intense narrow targeted subsidies. The need for input and output subsidies is to ultimately make food grains reach the farmer and the poor through PDS.   - The borewell itself was a major source of debt, if not of water, in the drought prone rural districts.   - *Indian agriculture is dominated by small farmers, having small landholdings for cultivation. The average size of the landholdings declined to 1.3 ha in 2000-01 from 2.3 ha in 1970-71 and is expected to be reduced further to a low of 0.3 ha in 2030.   - India is the largest manufacturer of tractors in the world but penetration is low. So PPP is required. A  tractor can be used for both agri and non-agri activities like haulage, power generation and water pumping. Mahindra‟s mini tractor for ₹ 2.5lac will work well for small land holdings. Govt can incentivise those.   - 12th FYP: Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanisation   - India‟s agro trade share in world market post 1991 has more than doubled. The farm sector is responsible for employing more than 50 per cent of the population and accounts only for about 14 per cent of GDP. A stress on agro-investment rather than agro-subsidies should be the roadmap for future growth. - The prices in agriculture are misleading and distorting  the economy. The very concept of MSP will   be redundant when agro-markets, with better production techniques, are allowed to function harmoniously with active participation of private players and   true  market price will be discovered. The future challenge lies in delinking MSP from government procurement. *Only two States, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, have legislation on public procurement.   State procurement agencies are competing for higher MSPs. This anti-competitive  measure will distort the economy even more. Its like curing a symptom and not the disease.   - With increasing prosperity, there is a shifting preference to milk, fruits and vegetables.   - Search “  Food Security Act, 2013 ” in  Bills and Acts.   Coordination among various arms of the Government —  principally, the Ministries of Food & Agriculture, Finance(mainly fuel and policies), Railways(efficient supply chain) —  and the State governments, needs to be ensured.   - Fertilizer:  2 1973 oil crisis forced the Government to subsidise fertilizers, by providing reimbursement to industries. In April 2010, the Government introduced the nutrient-based subsidy (NBS) which was governed by market forces. It was implemented selectively on non-urea fertilizer(P&K). Due to global economic scenario, production costs for non-urea fertilizer(P&K) fertilisers have soared. The Government is worried about the mis-utilisation of subsidised urea, for non-agriculture use and contraband. Fertilisers, after oil and food, account for the third-biggest share of India‟s total subsidy bill. Frequent revision of urea tariffs should be proposed by the Government, to close the wide gap between urea and P&K and use it for better agricultural productivity only. Therefore NBS needs to be balanced, resulting in increase in crop yields and improvement in soil health .   In the new NBS regime, companies were allowed to fix MRPs based on their own assessment of market conditions(earlier it was fixed by govt) and claim subsidy over and above that. Profiteering - companies could charge any MRP and receive subsidy without being obliged to pass on its benefits to farmers made the system seem unfair. Therefore govt has rollbacked it. The solution is to provide subsidies through DCT to farmers instead of intermediaries(companies).   - The govt can support and waive livestock loans too.   - Advantages of relaxation in FDI norms for multi-brand retail:   Under the new norms, a Walmart can also set-up and sell in adjoining cities( less than one million-plus population) provided the state-government agrees.   Big global retailers may actually find it attractive to open stores in tier-2 and tier-3 cities  where real estate is much cheaper than in the big metros. These cities already have good purchasing power.   $1 million is a paltry investment limit for SMEs. The norm on 30 per cent compulsory procurement, penalised firms for the „crime‟ of growing. This would have discouraged retailers from building long-term relationships with suppliers. A weak rupee will force them to source locally, and not flooding their stores with Chinese stuff.   - What Mr Rikin Gandhi and his 65-member team do at  Digital Green , an independent, non-governmental organisation (NGO) that he heads, is simple: train farmers to make and show short videos where they record their problems, share solutions and highlight success stories.   - The objective of regulating agricultural markets was to protect farmers from exploitation by intermediaries, ensure better prices and timely payments. But over a period of time these markets ( mandis ) have become restrictive and monopolistic in character with largely opaque practices. - Reforms in Agriculture: There is a need of freeing of movement restrictions on agri produce across the country, including through the introduction of a uniform GST.    Availability of land at reasonable cost to set up warehousing hubs and mandi   yards is another major limitation.   Integration of spot and futures markets within a well-regulated system.   - Sugar decontrol: No obligation to supply part of their produce at below market rate for PDS.  Also seller will decide time and quantum of sale.   This decontrol in sugar was, however, not extended to cane, where State governments(esp. UP) continued to retain the power to fix prices payable to farmers. Hence increasing SAP(State Advised Prices) mill owners can‟t afford the cane. The real loser, as always,  3 is the farmer, who is neither able to sell cane nor vacate his field to sow wheat within the required window.   Farmers need to have the “best possible price” option, i.e. freedom to decide who to sell to. The current rules prevent factories from encroaching into „other‟s‟ areas. Hence this pre  vents the farmer to enter into a “best possible price” supply agreement contract.   - Milk:   Milk has a substantial consumption contribution atleast in urban areas. Yet it is not treated like a crop independently but as a subsidiary. Its because unlike 4-12 months crops milk is extracted everyday, it not a big affair. Cow is simply, the machine that converts fodder to milk. The fodder is by- product of regular crop, or grown separately. Thus dairy production „IS‟ an independent agricultural activity. One reason  why we don‟t get to hear about farm suicides in Gujarat is  because of AMUL! It also includes those NOT owning land.    With rising incomes milk consumption would increase. Meeting this will not be possible if dairying continues to receive subsidiary/residual treatment. GM CROPS   ( “ not Frankenstein foods”)   - GM is an attempt to use genetics to overcome the environment. This never works for long. That is why some call GM a distraction from investing in real solutions to the problems faced by real farmers. Hunger, pestilence, and economic failure are the images of fear increasingly being used to drive acceptance of GM crops. Meanwhile, the cost of GM seeds is the fastest growing expense for U.S. farmers who are simultaneously suffering from weeds resistant to the herbicides excessively used on GM crops and pests resistant to the insecticides over- used in Bt crops. That likely would be India‟s experience had it commercialised Bt brinjal which was developed with the least effective form of Bt for the target pest. The science needed to establish their safety exists and is affordable but it must be applied dispassionately and transparently. So wait we must.   - Ever since the second biotech crop, Bt brinjal, was stopped from being commercialised, the debate has taken a turn for the worse.   - A country struggling to meet the food, feed and fibre requirements of its population, which is set to overtake China‟s in the next 15 years, cannot afford to say no to any technology. There is a need for an independent regulator  for overseeing research in genetically modified products - that balances the interests of both the consumer and the farmer. - Under the  Stockholm Convention , many of the pesticides of the class to which endosulfan  belongs are being globally banned, as efforts to phase out chemicals that are causing environmental and health problems. But look at regulatory status in India. In 2001, the Ministry of Agriculture to a question in Parliament said that “67 pesticides banned in other countries continue to be used i n India”. Why are we using the pretext of the “poor farmer” to keep using those hazardous chemicals that have been globally rejected? There is huge rejections of our export consignments as traders blame the Government for the pesticides detected in them. eg. Europe rejected basmati rice. (See monocrotophos in The-Hindu-1)   Monocrotophos is one of the main agents used in the current epidemic of farmer suicides according to National Crime Records Bureau. Farmers are lured by the promises of higher yields through genetically modified seeds and chemically intensive farming methods.  4 They despair under the weight of the debts incurred by the costs and the failed assurances. Monocrotophos has a huge domestic market, and India is lobbying to make sure monocrotophos doesn‟t get banned in India, even if the rest of the world is on the  bandwagon to ban it.   - Genetically modified organisms are novel organisms and their contamination with transgenes is irreversible, so bio-safety is an issue. Also if GM crops are not permitted how can we provide food security to a growing population.   - One reason why Bt cotton has „failed‟ in rainfed areas with marginal soils is because of planting of long-duration hybrids requiring more water and nutrients. Thus late planting also induces failure. However, it is well recognised how India has transformed itself from a net importer of cotton to a net exporter and occupy the fourth position in the world in terms of production.   - We need all available agricultural technologies, including biotechnology, to meet the current and projected global demand for food, feed, fibre, and biofuels. Researchers from highly reputed institutions in India and abroad, and publications in reputed scientific journals like the Science have documented the phenomenal success of Bt cotton in India. The fact is more than 95 per cent of cotton-growing areas in the country is now under Bt cotton.   - The Karnataka govt‟s policy to reform agriculture market   is audible. It focuses on capacity  building, competition and strengthening market institutions. It also focuses on public-private collaboration to provide state of the art technology for marketing.   CRISIS-IN-AGRICULTURE   - With 58% of workforce employed in agriculture which remains a majority since independence,  we still don‟t have a definition of „farmer‟.   -  Agricultural Census for 2010- 11 showed that 85 per cent of India‟s farm holdings are below 2 hectares.   - United Nation‟s Food and Agriculture Organis ation said around 35 per cent of food is lost  between harvest and distribution across the Asia-Pacific region.   - * Just 45 per cent of the arable land is under irrigation.  Resource management:   Whether India should import close to half its edible oils, while exporting seven million tonnes of rice would arise. It is estimated that close to 3,000-5,000 litres of water are required to produce a tonne of rice, which is akin to saying that India exports billions of litres of water!   It is somewhat ironical that the Madhya Pradesh is the highest producer of protein-rich soyabean, but ranks low in the nutritional indicators, as the crop is grown purely as a cash crop.   - To sustain investments , it is crucial to have well- functioning markets for farmers‟ produce. Issues such as export controls, levies and restrictions on stock holdings and inter-state movement of food would come into focus. To distribute fruits of globalisation an efficient administration and good governance is required. It should work against vested interests.   - The research focus would be to evolve technologies and management options to suit the needs of smallholders‟ agriculture and involve them in agri -supply chain through institutional innovations. We also need more franchisees of NAFED, APMC so as to penetrate the hinterland.   - (Disguised Employment)Productivity of land in terms of incomes per worker is higher when it is used for industrial purposes.   - Search “soil health” →  DCT   - *Search “Politicisation of agriculture value chain”, “culture of scarcity” in  Economy    - Search “ independent regulator ”.  
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