The Economic Survey 2015-16 presented today in the Parliament by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley stressed on the declining growth in agriculture, owing to two consecutive drought years and due to decline in production and area sown of major crops.
“The agriculture sector needs a transformation to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the farmers and food security for the population. The transformation in agriculture has to be steered by raising productivity in agriculture, by investing in efficient irrigation technologies, and efficient use of all inputs, the. Economic Survey 2015-16 said. It emphasizes that to improve productivity in agriculture in India needs to be guided by large area under irrigation and efficient facilities, water productivity, Mechanisation, rational fertiliser subsidy, judicious use of pesticides and demand-driven agricultural advisory service.
The Survey says to raise the productivity of agriculture in India there is need to expand the acreage under irrigation along with adoption of appropriate technologies for efficient utilization of water through suitable pricing. First, adoption of irrigation technologies which improve efficiency in the use of water is imperative in a scenario where flood irrigation has resulted in wastage of water. Second, focus on efficient irrigation technologies is owing to climate change and indiscriminate wastage of water in agriculture and other uses. Having ‘more crop per drop’ through motto to improve productivity in agriculture which can ensure food and water security in the future.
The Survey says the level of farm mechanization in India requires more to be done in terms of introduction of better equipment for each farming operation in order to reduce drudgery, to improve efficiency by saving on time and labor, improve productivity, minimize wastage and reduce labor costs for each operation. With shortage of labour for agriculture operations owing to rural urban migration, shift from agriculture to services and rise in demand for labor in non- farm activities, there is need to use labour for agriculture operation judiciously, which makes a strong case for mechanization of farming.
The basic inputs for increasing productivity in agriculture is seed. It is estimated that the quality for seed accounts for 20-25 per cent of productivity. According to the Survey, the issues that require immediate attention include Affordability, Availability, Research and technology for seed development and GM crops and seeds.
The Survey says concerns about affordability of hybrids and GM seeds, environmental and ethical issues in cultivation of GM crops, risk to the food chain, diseases spread and cross pollination need to be debated, tested, evaluated, so that introduction of hybrids is facilitated in the next six months. “The adoption of hybrid and HYV seeds is one definite pathway to raising productivity in Indian agriculture,” it recommended..
“There is a need to rationalize fertilizer subsidy in an input, crop and region neutral format and minimize diversions. The disbursal of subsidy on fertilizers should shift to DBT, the benefits of which will be maximized, if all controls (including imports) on the fertilizer industry/outputs are lifted simultaneously. In the case of P and K fertilizer subsidy, with the Nutrient Based Subsidy (NBS) scheme, a fixed amount of subsidy will be given on each grade based on their content,” the Survey pointed out. .
Agriculture extension services constitute another key input which can improve productivity in agriculture by providing timely advisory services to farmers to adopt best practices, technology, meet with contingencies, market information etc. The Survey says there needs to be a shift to demand-driven agricultural advisory services that will cater to farmer, region and crop-specific needs.