Addressing the Challenges in Agriculture

Agricultural productivity depends on several factors which include the availability and quality of agricultural inputs such as land, water, seeds and fertilisers, access to agricultural credit and crop insurance, assurance of remunerative prices for agricultural produce and storage and marketing infrastructure among others. Despite a number of initiatives taken by the government, the farming sector in India is plagued with problems of low agricultural growth. The reasons vary from structural problems relating to falling public investments in agriculture to rising input costs of farmers and issues in marketing of agricultural produce.

Over a period of time, Indian agriculture has become cereal-centric and input-intensive by way of consuming enormous amounts of land, water and fertilisers. The challenges agriculture faces today include how to economise the use of water, how to shift towards traditional cultivation and how to create a unified agriculture market. With more than sixty percent of its population dependent on agriculture, the impacts of climate change assume significant importance for India. Global climate change projections made up to 2100 indicate an overall increase in temperature by 2-40 C (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007) coupled with increase in precipitation, especially during the monsoon period. This would have adverse impacts on the farm sector and food security of the country.

The Agri-Horti model is being promoted as a fundamental component of climate resilient agricultural practices. It is implemented in family-owned plots of under-utilised lands. One Agri-Horti plot of around one acre (around 0.405 hectares or 4050 square metres) is developed for each family, with full participation of the family. The Agri-Horti model aims to support families during adverse climatic conditions by diversifying their income and providing nutritional support to households.

Keeping in mind, the importance of backward-forward linkages for agri produce, collectivisation of producers especially the small and marginal farmers through the formation of producer organisations has emerged as one of the most effective pathways to address the many challenges of agriculture.

To increase the 3 Pís (Production, Productivity and Profitability) of agriculture has been the primary objective of mobilising farmers into member-owned producer organisations or FPOs. The participant farmers are given the necessary support to identify appropriate crops and are also provided access to modern technology through community-based processes including Farmer Field Schools. The training for capacity building of farmers for development of improved agriculture practices are facilitated to access forward linkages to technology for enhancement of productivity, value addition of feasible products and market tie-ups.

The gradual shift from productivity based policy to income based policy reflects optimistically on the transitional change experienced in the farmersí life ensuring better life standards and income level in the days to come.  

Chandan Mishra


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