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Agriculture (Geo)

Indian Agricultue

Agriculture (Geo)

Agriculture plays a vital role in India’s economy. Over 58 per cent of the rural households depend on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. Agriculture, along with fisheries and forestry, is one of the largest contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As per estimates by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the share of agriculture and allied sectors (including agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishery) was 15.35 per cent of the Gross Value Added (GVA) during 2015-16 at 2011-12 prices.

The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for the development of the agriculture sector in India. It manages several other bodies, such as the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), to develop other allied agricultural sectors.

Facts:

• India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices and spice products.
• India’s fruit production has grown faster than vegetables, making it the second largest fruit producer in the world.
• India’s horticulture output, comprising fruits, vegetables and spices, is estimated to be 283.4 million tonnes (MT) in 2015-16 after the third advanced estimate.
• Agricultural export constitutes 10 per cent of the country’s exports and is the fourth-largest exported principal commodity.
• India is an agricultural economy where approximately 49% of the people depend on agriculture.
• Net sown area still accounts for about 47% of the total cultivable area of India.
• Accounts for about 35% of our national income.
• Share in GDP – around 14 %.
• Provides food for the people and fodder for the animals.
• Main source of raw materials to the agro-based industries viz. sugar, textile, edible oil, etc.
• Predominance of food crop ? 2/3rd of total cropped area.
• 1st rank in Milk (17% of world production), Mango, banana, coconut, cashew, papaya, peas, cassava and pomegranate.
• Largest producer and exporter of spices, Millets, Pulses, Dry Bean, Ginger.
• Overall, second largest producer of vegetable, fruits and fishes.
• Have three main cropping seasons viz. Kharif, Rabi & Zaid.



INFRASTRUCTURE FACTORS RELATED TO AGRICULTURE

A. Seed:
• Seed is a fertilized matured ovule together covered with seed coat.
• Importance of seed
a) Seed bridge between the two generations of plant life.
b) Seed is the medium which transferring character from one generation to next generation.
c) Seed is the vital and most important input for crop production.
d) Seed as food, feed, medicinal, industries or ornamental value.
• Hybrid seeds are obtained by cross pollination of different varieties of related plants.
• Genetically Modified seeds, are the ones in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way as to get the required quality.


B. Fertilizers:
• Fertilizers are chemical compounds applied to promote plant and fruit growth.
• Organic fertilizers are fertilizers derived from animal matter, human excreta or vegetable matter. (e.g. compost, manure). Naturally occurring organic fertilizers include animal wastes from meat processing, peat, manure, slurry, and guano.
• Inorganic fertilizers contain simple inorganic chemicals. Some of the common nutrients present in fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NKP). They also contain secondary plant nutrients such as calcium, sulphur and magnesium.

Bio-fertilizers Pros:
• Increases crop yield by 20-30%
• Provide protection against drought and some soil-borne diseases
• Replaces chemical nitrogen & phosphorus by 25%
• Stimulates plant growth
• Cost-effective
• Environment friendly
• To some extent, helps to cleanse the plant from precipitated chemical fertilizers

Bio-fertilizers Cons:
• Effects are slower compared to chemical fertilizer
• Difficulty to store as sensitive to temp. and humidity changes
• Much lower nutrient density – requires large amounts to get enough for most crops
• Sometimes, are hard to locate/purchase in faraway rural areas.
New Urea policy 2015.


C. Irrigation
• Irrigation is an artificial application of water to the soil. It is usually used to assist in growing crops in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall.
• Additionally, irrigation also has a few other uses in crop production, which include protecting plants against frost, suppressing weed growing in rice fields and helping in preventing soil consolidation.
• There are large reserves of underground water in the alluvial plains of north India. Digging and constructing wells and tube-wells is easy and cost of their construction is also comparatively less. Therefore irrigation by wells and tube-wells here is popular
• An irrigation canal is a waterway, often man-made or enhanced, built for the purpose of carrying water from a source such as a lake, river, or stream, to soil used for farming or landscaping.
• A tank consists of water storage which has been developed by constructing a small bund of earth or stones built across a stream. The water impounded by the bund is used for irrigation or other purposes.
• Localized irrigation is a system where water is distributed under low pressure through a piped network, in a pre-determined pattern, and applied as a small discharge to each plant or adjacent to it. Drip irrigation, spray or micro-sprinkler irrigation and bubbler irrigation belong to this category of irrigation methods.


D. HYV (High Yielding Variety) Seeds ? Green Revolution by Norman Borlaug
Positives:
• To achieve self-sufficiency in food
• Shorter Life cycles
• Increased productivity
• Benefited Wheat & Rice
• Benefitted Punjab, Haryana, UP, TN, Andhra Pradesh & Maharashtra

Negatives:
• Input cost increased
• More water & fertilizer required
• Chemical poisoning of soil
• Salinity & Alkalinity increased which makes soil impermeable
• Depletion of ground water
• Loss of fertility of soil
• Limited to selective states only
• Limited to selected crops only

E. Green Manure
• A type of cover crop grown primarily to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
• A green manure crop is grown for a specific period of time, and then ploughed under and incorporated into the soil while it is still green or shortly after flowering.
• Provides subsidy on purchase of seeds & on cost for production of seeds for green manure plants.
• Leguminous types — Have Nitrogen fixing ability for ex. Cowpeas, Soybeans.
• Non- Leguminous types — For weed suppression & addition of biomass to the soil for eg. Sudan grass, Millets, Sorghum & Buckwheat.

Advantage:
• Helps in soil improvement & soil protection
• Provides forage for pollinating insects
• Deep rooting properties ? Increase aeration of soil+ Efficient at suppressing weeds
• Fix nitrogen in soil, thus Less chemical fertilizers are required
• Provides habitat for predatory beneficial insects which kill and eat harmful insects thus less pesticides are required

Disadvantage:
• Leguminous plants require good amount of irrigation
• The “time” factor — one cannot plant the primary marketable crop during green manuring phase.

F. Genetically Modified Food
• Modified form of agricultural plants to enhance desired traits such as increased resistance to herbicides or improved nutritional content
• Using the latest molecular biology techniques & genetic engineering, plants are undertaken breeding to get the desired results
• Last decade, genetically modified (GM) crops were introduced esp. for Cotton & Brinjal in India but as of now only GM Bt. Cotton production is allowed.

Advantages of GM Foods
• Pest resistance
• Herbicide resistance
• Disease resistance
• Draught tolerance
• Salinity tolerance
• Increased nutrition
• Better flavour and colour
• Early maturing
• All year availability
• Easy to store

Disadvantages of GM Foods
• Reduced effectiveness to pesticides
• Unknown effects on human health
• Gene transfer to non-target species
• Playing with nature and its mechanisms
• Monopoly of MNCs in GM seeds
• High input cost — Requires high dose of fertilizers

• Genetically-modified foods have the potential to solve many of the world’s hunger and malnutrition problems, and to help protect and preserve the environment by increasing yield and reducing reliance upon chemical pesticides and herbicides.

• Yet there are many challenges ahead for governments, especially in the areas of safety testing, regulation, international policy and food labeling. Hence, we must proceed with caution to avoid causing unintended harm to human health and the environment as a result of our enthusiasm for this powerful technology.



NITI Aayog has identified three key areas for reform and is now persuading states to undertake the reforms. The areas identified for immediate reforms are:

• Agricultural market reforms
• Land lease reforms
• Reforms related to forestry on private land – felling and transit of trees.

Three crucial reforms pertaining to marketing in agriculture have been recommended by NITI Aayog. First is the immediate need to amend existing regulations in order to liberalize markets. Farmer to should be given the freedom to decide to whom, where and how he wants to sell his produce. Seven indicators have been developed by NITI in this regard. The reforms also suggest special treatment of fruits and vegetables from other farm produce as they are perishable and produced in small quantities. Importantly, the recommended reforms place importance on IT in marketing for the creation of a ‘national market’ for agriculture, so that farmers across the country may benefit from interconnected markets, through the use of appropriate technology. This important reform has so far eluded the country due to strong lobbies of middlemen and the reluctance of political class to take favourable steps.

NITI Aayog has launched an index to rank States and UTs that is based on implementation of seven provisions proposed under model APMC Act, joining eNAM initiative, special treatment to fruits and vegetables for marketing and level of taxes in mandis. These indicators reveal ease of doing agribusiness as well as opportunities for farmers to benefit from modern trade and commerce and have wider option for sale of her/his produce. These indicators also represent competitiveness, efficiency and transparency in agri markets. The second area of reforms included in the index is relaxation in restrictions related to lease in and lease out agricultural land and change in law to recognise tenant and safeguard land owners liberalisation. The third area included in the index represent freedom given to farmers for felling and transit of trees grown on private land.

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