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Gist of Kurukshetra - Agricultural Reforms

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  • Published
    21st Nov, 2019

Agricultural Reforms for ias upsc mains: 

UPSC Exam is all about proper strategy, dedication and consistent endeavor in the right direction with authentic and reliable study material. Government and renowned international reports form a very important source for grasping the conceptual clarity of contemporary national and international issues/topics. However, it is a daunting task to comprehend a report that runs through hundreds of pages. It becomes difficult for the students in time crunch situations particularly during UPSC Mains Examinations.

In order to ease the burden over aspirants, GSSCORE has come up with a series of summary of important national and international reports in a crisp and comprehensive manner. Underlining the importance of reports and indexes for PT and Mains, GSSCORE provides a comprehensive summary of important reports of national and international repute. The summary of the report by GSSCORE would save the time and energy of the UPSC aspirants and enable them to quickly cover the syllabus.

  • The following summary of the Kurukshetra titled “Agricultural Reforms” is in one among the series of summaries created by GSSCORE on various reports.
  • The report gives us a brief idea onDoubling Farmer’s Income, Risk Management and Sustainable Practices, Roadmap for Agricultural Reforms, Best Farming Techniques in Indian Scenario, Ways to enhance Agricultural Production.
  • The report underscores the recent developments in achieving these goals.
  • Kurukshetra is important topic both for UPSC Preliminary as well as Mains. So going through the GSSCORE summary of the report becomes imperative for UPSC aspirants. Students can download the gist of this report from the Free Resources section of GSSCORE website:https://iasscore.in/free-study-material-downloads


The Government has reoriented the agriculture sector by focusing on an income-centeredness approach which focuses on achieving high productivity, reducing cost of cultivation and remunerative price on the produce, with a view to earn higher profits from farming. Various initiatives by way of schemes and policy reforms have been rolled out in consonance with his approach:-

For Higher Production Through Productivity Gains:

  • National Food Security Mission(NFSM)- for cereals, pulses, oilseeds, nutri-rich cereals, commercial crops.
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)- for high growth rate of horticulture crops.
  • National Mission on Oilseed and Oil Palm (NMOOP)- for increasing production of oilseeds and oil palm.

For Reduction in Cost of Cultivation:

  • Soil Health Card (SHC)- to ensure optimal use of fertilizer application thus saving the input cost for farmers.
  • Neem Coated Urea (NCU)- to regulate use of urea and reduce cost of superfluous fertilizer application.

For Providing Assistance To Small and Marginal Farmers:

  • PM KISAN Scheme- to provide assistance to small and marginal farmer families with an amount of Rs.6000/- per year.
  • PM Kisan Maan Dhan Yojana (PM-KMY)- provides for a payment of a minimum pension of Rs.3000/- per month to eligible small and marginal farmers on attaining the age of 60 years. It is voluntary and contributory pension scheme, with entry age of 18 to 40 years.

Ensure Remunerative Returns:

  • e-NAM- to revolutionize agri-markets by ensuring real-time better price discovery, bringing in transparency and moving towards ‘One Nation One Market’.
  • Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO’s)- have been on-boarded on e-NAM portal and have started uploading their produce for trading from their premise.
  • MSP- giving a major boost for the farmer’s income, Government has recently approved the increase in the MSP for all Kharif crops for 2019-20 season.
  • Market Intervention Scheme- for procurement of agriculture & horticulture products, which are perishable in nature and are not covered under PSS (Price Support Scheme).
  • PM Fasal Bima Yojana & Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWCIS)- provides insurance cover at all stages of the crop cycle including post-harvest risks in specified instances.
  • Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY)- to promote organic farming in the country. This will improve soil health and organic matter content and increase net income of the farmer.
  • Mission Organic Farming in North-East- for realizing the potential of organic farming in the North Eastern Region of the country.

For Allied Activities-

  • ‘Har Medh Par Ped’- to encourage tree plantation on farm land along with crops/cropping system. Agro forestry will help in increasing soil organic carbon and also in creating additional source of income to farmers.
  • National Bamboo Mission- for value chain based holistic development of this sector as a supplement to farm income.
  • National Livestock Mission- to ensure intensive development of livestock along with adequate availability of quality feed and fodder.
  • Rashtriya Gokul Mission- for gene pool of indigenous cattle and buffaloes.

A Paradigm Shift-

  • The Agricultural planning has to change to make it sustainably profitable with mainstreaming of agricultural reforms in production, agri-business, value chains, investments and governance.
  • The policies and investment priorities ‘in’ and ‘for’ agriculture can be aligned for income security and inclusiveness.
  • The investments in water positive interventions in fund-starved rainfed regions must be enhanced.
  • The participatory ground water management and drought-proofing with investments in a framework of extensive supportive irrigation with conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water bodies is needed.

Research and Technology:

  • Much of the technology developed in public sector labs does not flow to farmers due to weak extension or inadequate delivery mechanism.
  • The renewed focus on reducing application of chemical fertilisers need some new plant types and plant root and microorganism symbiosis to mobilise the already available phosphorus and other nutrients from the soil reserve.
  • The GM technology may also be useful for addressing various climate change nduced stresses.
  • Agriculture R&D has to innovate for precision agriculture, varieties with higher nutritive and processable traits, climate smart technologies, cyber-agro-physical system for generating artificial intelligence based farm and market advisories.
  • The frontier areas like gene editing, genomics, artificial intelligence, nano technology are ushering in 4th industrial revolution need special attention.

Water Governance:

  • As close to 84 percent of fresh water is used in agriculture, both demand and supply side management through reforms are crucial in India.
  • A strong convergence amongst programmes and agencies based on comprehensive information of all water bodies and reservoirs is needed.
  • The water governance should focus on micro-irrigation and water budgeting based on a s strong tarrifs regime.

Fertiliser Sector:

  • The alternate sources of nutrition like microbial consortia, bio stimulant, bio compost, plant growth promoters can appropriately be included in Fertiliser (Control) Order, 1985and Insecticides Act,1968 to promote their trade and commercialisation and compensate part of the chemical fertilisers through these alternate sources.
  • The strategy to introduce NBS for all major nutrients should be evolved at the earliest.
  • States have to reform to accept and include technologies like remote sensing, drones, smart phones, etc. as an effective and accepted tool for conducting the field level assessments of area insured and the losses.

Credit Requirements:

  • The credit targets and availability has been rising but the equitable distribution of credit amongst farmers and regions is the concern as the private money lenders flourish in many states on the cost of small and marginal farmers.
  • States should reform their land leasing laws based on the Model Act on Agricultural Land Leasing, 2016 prepared by Niti Aayog which will help mainstreaming the tenants under the fold of institutional agricultural
  • The alternate system of banking in the form banking correspondence should be strengthened in regions with low density of rural banks.

Manage Post-Harvest and Minimise the Price Shocks:

  • Reforms in Essential Commodity Act relating to stock holdings and storage could reduce the losses to great extent. Better synergy amomgst agriculture, food processing, and commerce is also required.
  • The Government can also evolve two competing agri-market systems- one through APMCs, and second through integrated value chain models. The FPOs/Joint Liability groups can be promoted to channelise the small growers into value chain.
  • The states should enact their APMC laws based on the Model Agricultural and Livestock Marketing Act,2017 to facilitate out-of-mandi transactions, exemption of market fee on perishables, electronic marketing, etc.

Facts and Figures:- Current Scenario


  • Agriculture accounts for nearly 18 per cent of GDP, and employs almost half of country’s total workforce.
  • In 2017-18, total food grain production in India was estimated at 275 million tonnes.
  • India is also the largest producer of pulses in the world accounting for 25 per cent of global production.
  • India’s annual milk production in 2017-18 was 165 MT, making India the largest producer of milk, jute and pulses.
  • India is also the second-largest fruit and vegetables producer of rice, wheat, groundnuts, cotton and sugarcane.
  • Share of agriculture sector in total exports of the country is 11.76 per cent for the year 2018-19.

Conservation Agriculture (CA)

  • It has been viewed as an important strategy against food security challenges posed by climate change, deterioration and depletion of soil health, reducing or stagnating crop yields.
  • It is defined as a sustainable agriculture production system comprising a set of farming practices adapted to the requirements of crops and local conditions of each region, whose farming and soil management techniques protect the soil from erosion and degradation, improve its quality and biodiversity.


Integrated Farming Systems (IFS)

  • The approach is considered as important and relevant, especially for the small and marginal farmers as location-specific IFS will be more resilient and adaptive to climate variability.
  • Under irrigated areas the following IFS models are most suitable to maintain soil fertility and productivity-
  • Intensification and diversification of crop component of farming system
  • Diversification of other components of farming system for higher income.


Precise Nutrient Management and Soil Health Cards

  • The Site-Specific Nutrient Management (SSNM) approach emphasizes ‘feeding’ crop with nutrients as and when needed.
  • It strives to enable farmers to dynamically adjust fertilizer use to optimally fill the deficit between the nutrient needs of a high-yielding crop and the nutrient supply from naturally occurring indigenous sources such as soil, organic amendments, crop residues, manures and irrigation water.


Efficient Water Management

  • In arid and semi-arid regions, where precipitation is low or infrequent during the dry season, it is necessary to store the maximum amount of rainwater during the wet season for use at a later time, especially for agricultural water supply.
  • Under the ‘Har Khet ko Pani’ a component of PMKSY scheme, the ground water irrigation scheme was implemented in 96 districts, where less than 30 percent land is currently getting an assured irrigation facility.


Integrated Crop Management (ICM)

  • ICM suggests the use of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) such as Integrated Nutrient Management(INM), Integrated Weed Management(IWM), Integrated Disease Management(IDM) and Integrated Pest Management(IPM), etc, for raising a good crop.
  • It is an alternative system of crop production, which conserves and enhances natural resources while producing quality food on an economically viable and sustainable foundation. It also covers integrated tillage and water management approaches in a holistic manner.


Protected Cultivation

  • Protected Cultivation or Greenhouse Cultivation is the most contemporary approach to produce, mainly, horticultural crops qualitatively and quantitatively and has spread extensively in last few decades.
  • It is also known as Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) and is highly productive, encourages water and land conservation as well as protects the environment.
  • The main purpose is to create a favourable environment for the sustained growth of crop, so as to realise its maximum potential even in adverse climatic conditions.

Crop Diversification

  • It proved to be of paramount importance in mitigating the environmental problems arising on account of monoculture.
  • Inclusion of certain crops in sequential and inter-cropping systems has been found to reduce some obnoxious weeds to considerable extent, thereby reducing the need of herbicides to a great extent.

Key Challenges Facing the Indian Agriculture Sector-

o   Decreasing size of agricultural land holdings- increases input cost and also irrigation becomes difficult in a small fragmentation of land.

o   Poor transport infrastructure and poor storage facilities- it becomes extremely difficult to store and subsequently transport agricultural produce from remote areas, owing to lack of cold storage and transport facilities.

o   Lack of use of modern technology- results in gross wastage of the produce

o   Lack of proper irrigation facilities and loss of soil fertility- results in loss of remunerative income for the farmer

o   Inadequate access to agricultural credit and lack of marketing support- due to the small and marginal farmers, who account for more than half of the total land holdings, are unable to access institutionalized credit and are left in the sphere of uncertainty.


Efficient Management of Resources-

Sustainable management of soil health is a key area of concern for raising productivity of farms. Soil heath Card recommends suitable fertilizer mix as well as micronutrients for use in specific farm. Similarly, promotion and use of neem-coated urea also optimized its consumption and decreased cost of fertilizers.

New Crops-New Ways

High yielding varieties are developed with a target to increase crop yield by 15-20 per cent under normal conditions but efficient input management and scientific package of practices increase the potential upto 45 percent. Mechanization and energy management in agriculture is another core sector with excellent potential to increase productivity and farmers income.

Crop Diversity- Crop Intensity

The aim of crop diversification is to increase crop portfolio so that farmers are not dependent on a single crop to generate their income. Diversification also manages prick risk appropriately because all products will not suffer low market prices at the same time.

Livestock for Livelihood

Breed improvement, better feed and nutrition, animal health, and better heard composition are some of the important measures that can raise livestock productivity and farmers income.

The prime function of the Government agencies is to create an ecosystem for the larger acceptance for the reforms. This requires three things- information, intelligence and interaction. Right information gathered through the intelligent systems should be placed before stakeholders to make an informed decision rather than based on anecdotes.

A paradigm shift is required to look agriculture differently and government initiatives should provide the hand holding support for the agriculture sector to grow and progress. Agriculture sector has to achieve its objective of maximizing efficiency and also ensuring equity in a sustainable manner. More importance should be given to the constructive use of water, proper crop selection and use of modern irrigation technologies to ensure a high agricultural productivity.


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