Posted in Indian Economy

Challenges of Indian Agriculture

updated on March 18th, 2019

If we look at the challenges faced by Indian agriculture, we can broadly group them into two categories. One category belongs to the problems that have been long standing. Second category of problems is new and has been emerging from the prevailing agricultural practices, system, changing climate and economy. Let us discuss the major challenges in detail:

1. Stagnation in Production of Major Crops: Production of some of the major staple food crops like rice and wheat has been stagnating for quite some time. This is a situation which is worrying our agricultural scientists, planners and policy makers. If this trend continues, there would be a huge gap between the demand of ever growing population and the production. Nobody wants India to go back to a situation that was prevailing in our country prior to Green Revolution. Try to find out what was the situation during pre-Green Revolution period.

2. High cost of Farm Inputs: Over the years rates of farm inputs have increased manifold. Farm inputs include fertilizer, insecticide, pesticides, HYV seeds, farm labour cost etc. Such an increase puts low and medium land holding farmers at a disadvantage.

3. Soil Exhaustion: On one hand green revolution has played a positive role in reducing hunger from India. On the other hand it has also led to negative consequences. One of which is Soil exhaustion. Soil exhaustion means loss of nutrients in the soil from farming the same crop over and over again. This usually happens in the rain forest.

4. Depletion of Fresh Ground Water: The second major negative consequence of green revolution is depletion of fresh ground water. You would remember that areas where green revolution was successful, it was due to the use of chemical fertilizers and irrigation. Most of the irrigation in dry areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh was carried out by excessive use of ground water. Today fresh ground water situation in these states is alarming. In the coming few years if this type of farming practice continues, these states are going to face water famine.

5. Adverse impact of Global Climatic Change: Among various challenges, global climatic change is the recent one. It has been predicted that its impact on agriculture would be immense. Since 70% of the Indian population is engaged in agricultural activities, you can imagine the consequences. It is predicted that due to climate change, the temperature would increase from 2°C to 3°C, there would be increase in sea level, more intense cyclones, unpredictable rainfall etc These changes would adversely affect the production of rice and wheat. Specifically, the rise in temperature in winter would affect the production of wheat in north India. Production of rice would be affected in coastal areas of India due to the ingress of saline water and the increase of the frequency of cyclones.

6. Impact of Globalisation You can see the effect of globalisation on the farm sector in India. All developing countries have been affected by it. The most evident effect is the squeeze on farmer’s income and the threat to the viability of cultivation in India. This is due to the rising input costs and falling output prices. This reflects the combination of reduced subsidy and protection to farmers. Trade liberalization exposes these farmers to competition from highly subsidized production in the developed world.

Globalisation refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Subsidy: A subsidy is money given by government to help support a business or person. Liberalization: liberty to establish any kind of economic activity at any time any where in the country without anticipating any kind of so called private or public restrictions.

7. Providing Food Security: Before the introduction of green revolution in India, we were not self sufficient in terms of our food grain production. Due to partition of India in 1947 the network of canal irrigation system, cotton belt and wheat bowl meant to West Pakistan which is now Pakistan. Similarly the jute belt and rice bowl was awarded to East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh. With the introduction of green revolution, production of food grains increased substantially and India became self sufficient. However, during the last one decade the total production has become stagnant. On the other hand we have added another 16 to 18 million population over this period. Although India has become self sufficient in good it is yet to ensure food security which is dependent upon accessibility, affordability as well nutritional value of the food available. One of the biggest challenges facing India is Providing Food Security to its population.

8. Farmers Suicide: Every suicide has a multiple of causes. But when you have nearly 200,000 of them, it makes sense to seek broad common factors within that group. The suicides appear concentrated in regions of high commercialization of agriculture and very high peasant debt. Cash crop farmers seemed far more vulnerable to suicide than those growing food crops. Yet the basic underlying causes of the crisis remained untouched. Commercialization of the countryside along with massive decline in investment in agriculture was the beginning of the decline. Withdrawal of bank credit at a time of soaring input prices and the crash in farm incomes compounded the problems. Shifting of millions from food crop to cash crop cultivation had its own risks. Privatization of many resources has also compounded the problems.

The devastation lies in the big 5 States of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. These states accounted for two-thirds of all farm suicides during 2003-08. Some of the major factors responsible are indebtedness, crop failure, and deterioration in economic status. The decline in social position, exorbitant charges by local money lenders for the vulnerable farmers, chronic illness in the family, addiction etc. have made the life of farmers difficult.

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Posted in Indian Economy

Coffee (Crops in India)

updated on March 18th, 2019

Coffee: Do you know from where coffee was brought to India? It is the indigenous crop of Ethiopia (Abysinia Plateau). From Ethiopia, it was taken to Yemen in 11th Century. From Arabia, the seeds were brought by Baba Budan in 17th Century and were raised in Baba Budan hills of Karnataka. But it was British planters who took keen interest and large coffee estates were established in the hills of Western Ghats.

Some of the geographical conditions for the growth of coffee are as follows:

(a) Temperature: It requires hot and humid climate with temperature varying between 15°C and 28°C. It is generally grown under shady trees. Therefore, strong sun shine, high temperature above 30°C, frost and snowfall are harmful for coffee cultivation. Dry weather is necessary at the time of ripening of berries.

(b) Rainfall: Rainfall between 150 to 250 cm is favourable for coffee cultivation.

(c) Soil: Well drained, rich friable loamy soil containing good deal of humus and minerals like iron and calcium are ideal for coffee cultivation. The soil must be properly manured to retain and replenish fertility and to increase productivity.

(d) Labour: Like tea, coffee cultivation also requires plenty of cheap and skilled labour for various purposes like sowing, transplanting, pruning, plucking, dying, grading and packing of coffee.

(e) Distribution: Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the main states of
coffee production in India.

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Tea (Crops in India)

updated on March 18th, 2019

Tea: India is famous for its tea gardens. You must have heard about tea gardens of Assam and Darjeeling in West Bengal. It is being said that tea plantation in India was started by the Britishers in 1923 when wild tea plants were discovered by them in the hilly and forest areas of Assam. Tea is made from tender sprouts of tea plants by drying them. At present, India is the leading tea producing country in the world. China and Sri Lanka are respectively the second and third largest producers of tea.

Some of the geographical conditions for the growth of tea are as follows:

(a) Temperature: It requires hot and wet climate. The ideal temperature for the growth of tea bushes and leaf varies between 20°C to 30°C. If temperature either rises above 35°C or goes below 10°C, it would be harmful for the growth of tea bushes and leaves.

(b) Rainfall: As mentioned above tea requires a good amount of rainfall ranging between 150-300 cm and the annual rainfall should be well distributed throughout the year. Long dry spell is harmful for tea.

(c) Soil: Tea bush grows well in well drained, deep, friable loamy soil. However, virgin forest soils rich in humus and iron content are considered to be the best soils for the tea plantation. Tea is a shade loving plant and grows better when planted along with shady trees.

(d) Labour: Cheap and efficient labour is required for tea production

(e) Distribution: Assam is the leading producer that accounts for more than 50% of tea production of India. Tea producing areas of Assam are the hill slopes bordering the Brahmaputra and Surma valleys. West Bengal is the second largest producer of tea where tea is mostly grown in the districts of Darjeeling, Siliguri, Jalpaiguri, and Cooch Bihar districts. Tamil Nadu is the third largest producer where tea growing areas are mostly restricted to Nilgiri hills.

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Posted in Geography, Indian Economy

Oilseeds Crops in India

updated on March 18th, 2019

Oilseeds: It is one of the important groups of commercial crops in India. In fact, India has the largest area and production of oilseeds in the world. Oil extracted from oilseeds not only forms an important item of our diet but also serves as raw material for the manufacturing of hydrogenated oils, paints, varnishes, soaps, lubricants etc. Oil-cake (the residue after the oil is extracted from the oilseeds) forms an important cattle feed and manure.

Groundnut: It is the most important oilseed of India. Groundnut is grown both as kharif and rabi crop but 90-95% of the total area is devoted to kharif crop.

Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:

(a) Temperature: It thrives best in the tropical climate and requires 20°C
to 30°C temperature.

(b) Rainfall: 50-75 cm rainfall is favourable for groundnut cultivation. It is highly susceptible to frost, prolonged drought, continuous rain and stagnant water. Therefore dry winter is needed at the time of ripening.

(c) Soil: Well drained light sandy loams, red, yellow and black soils are well
suited for its cultivation.

(d) Distribution: It is the most important oilseed of India and accounts for
about half of the major oilseeds produced in the country. India is the largest producer of groundnut in the world and accounts for about one-third of the worlds to the production. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat are three main producers of groundnut in India and account for about 60% of the total production. Another 30% of the total production comes from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha.

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Cotton (Crops in India)

updated on March 18th, 2019

Cotton: Cotton is the most important fibre crop not only of India but also of the entire world. It not only provides a raw material for cotton textile industry but also its seed is used in Vanaspati oil industry. The cotton seed is also used as part of fodder for milch cattle for better milk production. Cotton is basically a kharif crop and grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:

(a) Temperature: Cotton is the crop of tropical and sub-tropical areas and requires uniformly high temperature varying between 21°C and 30°C.

(b) Rainfall: It grows mostly in the areas having at least 210 frost free days
in a year. It requires modest amount of rainfall of 50 to 100cm. However, cotton is successfully grown with the help of irrigation in the areas where rainfall is less than 50 cm. High amount of rainfall in the beginning and sunny and dry weather at the time of ripening are very useful for a good crop.

(c) Soil: Cotton cultivation is very closely related to Black soils of Deccan and Malwa plateau. However, it also grows well in alluvial soils of the Satluj-Ganga plain and red and laterite soils of the peninsular region.

(d) Labour: As picking of cotton has not been made mechanized till now,
therefore a lot of cheap and efficient labour is required at the time of picking.

(e) Distribution: India has the largest area under cultivation and third largest producer of cotton next only to China and the USA. Within the country two third of total area and production is shared by four states. The main states for cotton production are Panjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Haryana.

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Pulses (Crops in India)

updated on March 18th, 2019

Pulses: It includes a number of crops which are mostly leguminous and provide invaluable proteins to the vegetarian population of India. As they have fewer sources of proteins in comparison to those who consume meat and fish. They also serve as excellent forage and grain concentrate in the cattle feed. Apart from that these leguminous crops have the capacity to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and are normally rotated with other crops to maintain and restore soil fertility. A large variety of pulses are found in India. These are gram, tur or arhar (Pigeon Pea or Red Gram), urd (black gram), mung (green gram), masur (lentil), kulthi (horse gram), matar (peas) etc. But among these above-mentioned varieties only gram and tur or arhar are more important pulses.

Gram: It is the most important of all the pulses. It accounts for about 37% of the production and about 30% of the total area of pulses in India. It is a rabi crop which is sown between September and November and is harvested between February and April. It is either cultivated as a single crop or mixed with wheat, barley, linseed or mustard.

Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:

(a) Temperature: It is grown in a wide range of climatic condition. Mild cool and comparatively dry climate with 20°C-25°C temperature.

(b) Rainfall: 40-45 cm rainfall is favourable for gram cultivation.

(c) Soil: It grows well on loamy soils.

(d) Distribution: Although gram is cultivated in several parts of the country, however, 90% of the total production comes from five states. These states are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana and Maharashtra.

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Millets (Crops in India)

updated on March 18th, 2019

Millets: Millets are short duration warm weather crops. These are coarse grain crops and are used for both food and fodder. These are Kharif crop. These are sown in May-August and harvested in October-November. Today millets are mostly consumed by poor people as their staple food. In India, lots of millet is grown and these are known by various local names. Some of these are Jawar, Bajra, Ragi, Korra, Kodon, Kutki, Hraka, Bauti, Rajgira. In India, Jawar, Bajra, and Ragi are grown.in large areas But unfortunately, the area under these crops has drastically reduced over the years.

Some of the geographical conditions for growing these crops are as follows:

(a) Temperature: These crops are grown where the temperature is high
which ranges between 27°C to 32°C.

(b) Rainfall: As mentioned earlier that millets are ‘dry land crops’, therefore, rainfall ranging from 50 to 100cm is ideal for their cultivation.

(c) Soil: Millets are less sensitive to soil deficiencies. They can be grown in
inferior alluvial or loamy soil.

(d) Distribution: Jawar, Bajra, is grown both in the north and south India whereas ragi is generally concentrated in southern India. Jawar, Bajra, is grown in Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat, Rajasthan, Maharastra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab. Ragi is generally concentrated in the southern India i.e. Tamilnadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

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Wheat Crops in India

updated on March 18th, 2019

(ii) Wheat: Wheat is the second most important food crop of India next to rice. It is a Rabi or winter crop. It is sown in the beginning of winter and harvested in the beginning of summer. Normally (in north India) the sowing of wheat begins in the month of October-November and harvesting is done in the month of March-April. This is the staple food of millions of people particularly in the northern and north-western regions of India. Unlike rice, wheat is grown mostly as a rabi or winter crop.

Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:

(a) Temperature: It is primarily a crop of mid-latitude grassland. It requires cool climate. The ideal temperature is between 10°C to 15°C at the time of sowing and 21°C to 26°C at the time of ripening and harvesting.

(b) Rainfall: Wheat thrives well in areas receiving annual rainfall of about 75cm. Annual rainfall of about 100cm is the upper limit for wheat cultivation. As you know areas receiving more than 100cm of rainfall are suitable for rice cultivation. Like rice, wheat can also be grown by irrigation method in areas where rainfall is less than 75cm. But on the other hand, frost at the time of flowering and hailstorm at the time of ripening can cause heavy damage to the wheat crop.

(c) Soil: Although wheat can be grown in a variety of soils but well drained
fertile loamy and clayey loamy soil is best suited for wheat cultivation. Plain areas are very well suited for wheat production.

(d) Labour: Wheat is highly mechanized and requires less labour.

(e) Distribution: The main regions of wheat production in India are U.P.,
Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat,Maharashtra. U.P., Punjab and Haryana together produce more than 66% of the total wheat of the country.

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Rice Crops in India

updated on March 18th, 2019

(i) Rice: Rice is the most important food crop of India. It is predominantly a Kharif or summer crop. It covers about one third of total cultivated area of the country and provides food to more than half of the Indian population. Maximum population of India is of rice consumers. Do you know what types of geographical conditions are required for rice cultivation? If you look at rice grown areas of India, you should find that this is the only crop in India which is grown in varied conditions as illustrated below.

Some of the geographical conditions are as follows:

(a) Temperature: Rice requires hot and humid conditions. The temperature should be fairly high i.e. 24°C mean monthly temperature with average temperature of 22°C to 32°C.

(b) Rainfall: Rainfall ranging between 150-300 cm is suitable for its growth
in areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh where rainfall is less than 100 cm, rice is cultivated with the help of irrigation.

(c) Soil: Rice is grown in varied soil conditions but deep clayey and loamy
soil provides the ideal conditions. Rice is primarily grown in plain areas.
It is also grown below sea level at Kuttanad (Kerala), hill terraces of the northeastern part of India and valleys of Kashmir.

(d) Labour: Rice cultivation requires easily available cheap labour because
most of the activities associated with it are labour orientated and are not
very well suited for mechanization.

(e) Distribution: Rice is grown in almost all the states of India. The main rice producing states are Tamilnadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Chhatisgarh, Punjab, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Assam and Maharashtra. It is also grown in Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Gujrat and Kashmir Valley.

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Posted in Prelims

GS 1 prelim 2017/33

updated on March 25th, 2019

33. What is/are the advantage/advantages of implementing the National agriculture Market’ scheme?

1. It is a pan- India electronic trading portal for agricultural commodities.

2. It provides the farmers access to nationwide market, with prices commensurate with the quality of their produce.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer is ‘C’

Statement 1:  National Agriculture Market (NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities.

Statement 2:  It removes information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promotes real time price discovery, based on actual demand and supply, promotes transparency in auction process, and access to a nationwide market for the farmer, with prices commensurate with quality of his produce and online payment and availability of better quality produce and at more reasonable prices to the consumer.

National Agriculture Market (NAM) is a pan-India electronic trading portal which networks the existing APMC mandis to create a unified national market for agricultural commodities

.The NAM Portal provides a single window service for all APMC related information and services. This includes commodity arrivals & prices, buy & sell trade offers, provision to respond to trade offers, among other services. While material flow (agriculture produce) continue to happen through mandis, an online market reduces transaction costs and information asymmetry. Agriculture marketing is administered by the States as per their agri-marketing regulations, under which, the State is divided into several market areas, each of which is administered by a separate Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) which imposes its own marketing regulation (including fees). This fragmentation of markets, even within the State, hinders the free flow of agri commodities from one market area to another and multiple handling of agri-produce and multiple levels of mandi charges ends up escalating the prices for the consumers without commensurate benefit to the farmer.

NAM addresses these challenges by creating a unified market through online trading platform, both, at State and National level and promotes uniformity, streamlining of procedures across the integrated markets, removes information asymmetry between buyers and sellers and promotes real-time price discovery, based on actual demand and supply, promotes transparency in auction process, and access to a nationwide market for the farmer, with prices commensurate with quality of his produce and online payment and availability of better quality produce and at more reasonable prices to the consumer.

http://www.enam.gov.in/NAM/home/about_nam.html#