28 Oct : This year’s insufficient Monsoon has forced people to pay more attention to agriculture and food security, but these have already been a very high priority for the Government. While the focus presently is on saving the standing crops and trying to maximize the production of winter crops, long-term strategies remain very important. These strategies have been evolved after a great deal of discussions, consultations and planning over the last five years and are aimed at giving a strong base to Indian agriculture.
The Government has launched several major schemes who will have long-term impact. These schemes are bringing in more investment, giving more incentives to States to give agriculture a high priority in their budget, bridging the yield gap in major food crops, promoting use of new farming technologies, improving soil health, giving a fillip to farming activities other than foodgrain production.
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana
To provide benefits to the farmer community, the Ministry of Agriculture has launched the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) during the Financial Year 2007-08 to encourage the States to invest more towards agriculture and allied sectors so as to achieve 4% annual growth. This would help in increasing the production and productivity. The Ministry has envisaged an outlay of Rs.25,000/- crore for the 11th Five Year Plan.
The scheme requires the States to prepare District and State Agriculture Plans for creation of such infrastructure, which are essential to catalyse the existing production scenario for achieving higher production. The scheme provides adequate flexibility and autonomy to the State Governments in selection, planning and implementation of project under this new flagship scheme. The scheme provides funds to the States as 100% grants. Some of the major activities for which the scheme is available are integrated development of food crops, agriculture mechanization, soil health and productivity, horticulture, animal husbandry, dairying & Fisheries and development of market infrastructure.
The new initiative has elicited an enthusiastic response from the States. Many States have prepared their District Agricultural Plan and others are in the process of preparing the same. Funds to the tune of Rs. 4133.69 crore have been released to the States/UTs during 2007-08 & 2008-09 under the Scheme. The States have taken up projects relating to minor/micro irrigation, watersheds, strengthening of seed farms, horticulture, setting up of soil/seed/fertilizer testing laboratories, farm mechanization, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries. Under the scheme an amount of Rs. 4100.00 crore is expected to be released to the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations during 2009-10.
National Food Security Mission.
Understanding the importance of food security, the National Development Council in its 53rd meeting held on 29th May, 2007 adopted a resolution to launch Food Security Mission comprising of rice, wheat and pulses to increase the production of rice by 10 million tons, wheat by 8 million tons and pulses by 2 million tons by the end of Eleventh Plan. Accordingly National Food Security Mission has been launched since Rabi 2007 with a financial outlay of Rs. 4882 crore (Eleventh plan period). NFSM is under implementation in 312 districts of 17 states viz NFSM-Rice in 136 districts of 14 states; NFSM-Wheat in 141 districts of 9 states and NFSM-Pulses in 171 districts of 14 states. It covers about 13 million hectares of wheat, 20 million hectares of rice and 85% of pulses areas. Mission equips the farmers with improved technologies i.e., seed, micronutrients, soil amendments, farm machinery, Integrated Pest Management and resource conservation technologies, demonstrations and training of farmers on the pattern of farmers’ field school along with effective monitoring and better project management.
Some of the major achievements with this scheme have been-:
· 2.35 lakh demonstrations of improved varieties of rice and wheat, SRI of rice and hybrid rice conducted.
· 47.83 lakh quintals of high yielding variety/hybrid seed of rice, wheat and pulses distributed.
· Nearly 12.0 lakh hectares of area treated with soil ameliorants (gypsum/lime/micronutrients) to restore soil fertility.
· Nearly 9.7 lakh hactares of farm land treated under Integrated Pest Management.
· Nearly 4.3 lakh farm implements distributed.
· Capacity building of farmers through 14535 Farmers Field Schools.
· 55,000 farmers have benefited through resource conservation technologies.
· Production of 77.63 million tonnes of wheat; nearly 1.82 tonnes more than 2006-07.
· Production of 99.37 million tonnes of rice during 2008-09 (3rd advance estimates); nearly 2.7 million tonnes more than 2007-08.
· Pulses’ productivity increased over 2007-08 in NFSM districts: TN 19.%; Rajasthan 100%; Punjab 18%; Haryana 66%; Andhra Pradesh 20%.
· Pulses’ productivity increased over 2006-07 in NFSM districts: Rajasthan 65%; Punjab 3%; Haryana 0.25% ; Andhra Pradesh 30%.
National Horticulture Mission
To promote holistic growth of the horticulture sector through area based regionally differentiated strategies, the National Horticulture Mission (NHM) was launched in the country, during the Xth Plan with effect from 2005-06. NHM ensures development of horticulture sector duly ensuring horizontal and vertical linkages, with the active participation of all the stake-holders. Under the Mission, 352 districts in all the States and two Union Territories (Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep) are covered except eight North Eastern States, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, which are covered under the Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in the North Eastern States (TMNE).
The scheme has enhanced horticulture production, improved nutritional security and income support to farm households and others; has established convergence and synergy among multiple on-going and planned programmes for horticulture development. The scheme has also helped in generating employment for skilled and unskilled persons, especially unemployed youth. The mission envisages an end-to-end approach covering production, post harvest management, processing and marketing to assure appropriate returns to growers/producers and to double horticulture production by 2011-12 with a production of 300 million tonnes through a targeted achievement of 6% growth in horticulture.
An amount of Rs. 3503.11 crore has been released for implementation of the Scheme since its inception till date, against the allocation of Rs. 3880.00 crore. An outlay of Rs. 1100 crore is earmarked for implementation of the scheme during 2009-10. The salient achievements under the Mission are coverage of an additional area of 12.54 lakh hactares of identified horticulture crops in 87 crop clusters, besides rejuvenation of 2.06 lakh hactares of senile plantations, establishment of 1935 nurseries for production of quality planting materials, adoption of organic farming in an area of 1.11 lakh hectares besides establishment of 66,019 units of vermi-compost units for promotion of organic farming in horticulture, adoption of IPM practices in an area of 5.73 lakh hactares besides establishment of 294 IPM/INM infrastructure facilities such as Bio-control labs, plant health clinics, leaf tissue analysis labs, disease forecasting units, creation of 13,091 community water tanks. Training of 4.24 lakh farmers within the concerned States and 57,000 farmers outside their States through exposure visits and training for enhancing capacity building on horticulture. Assistance has also been provided for establishment of 1109 pack houses, 109 cold storages, 23 refer vans besides creation of 35 whole-sale markets, 174 rural markets, to help in proper handling and marketing of horticulture produce.
The impact of Mission has been from the positive trend in increasing area under fruits to 4.964 million hactares with a production of 45.29 million tonnes, while the area under vegetables is 6.756 million hactares with a production of 101.43 million tonnes. India is the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world next to China. The horticulture sector contributes around 28.5% of agriculture.
Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms
The scheme was launched in May, 2005 with an objective to support State Governments efforts to revitalize their extension system. The scheme promotes a decentralized farmer-driven and farmer-accountable extension system through a new institutional arrangement for technology dissemination in the form of an Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) at district level. The funding support to the States is provided on the basis of State Extension Work Plans (SEWPs), which are prepared through a bottom up planning process starting at the block level and consistent with training and extension needs emerging from Strategic Research Extension Plans (SREPs).
The Cafeteria of activities include upgradation of State Level Extension Training Institutions, HRD of extension functionaries, agricultural exhibitions/melas, agricultural fairs, field days, ‘kisan goshthies’, mobilization of farmers groups, training/exposure visits, field demonstrations, information and dissemination through print and electronic media, setting up of ‘Farm Schools’, Farmer-Scientist Interactions, assessment, refinement, validations and adoption of frontline technologies, extension activities through agri-entrepreneurs and PG Diploma in Agricultural Extension Management, setting up of community radio stations, rewards and incentives.
The coverage under the scheme has been progressively increasing – today ATMAs have been established in 586 districts of 29 States and 2 UTs. Total of 7978 Farm Schools have so far been set up under this Scheme. Over 91 lakh farmers including 17.97 lakh women farmers have been benefited under the programme. A sum of Rs. 440.99 crore have been released to the States/ UTs under this Scheme in the last four years.
Changing agriculture in a way that makes it more sustainable is a big challenge. To create a flourishing sustainable agricultural system that meets the country’s needs and those of future generations, the Ministry is working towards evolving innovative government policies that are grounded in both the science and economics of agriculture; research to develop new technologies, as well as extension services to update farmers about new developments that could help them through transition to sustainable agriculture.