Timely policy measures, monitoring helped in boosting farm output
NEW DELHI: Active policy intervention in agriculture and rigorous monitoring of farm operations from planting to harvesting in a good monsoon year helped Indian farmers increase India’s food output at a much faster pace in 2016-17 than previous peaks in production, officials said.
Farm output rose 8.1% to a record of 272 million tonnes in the current crop year. This is much more than the previous significant increase in output recorded in 2011-12, and 2007-8 when production rose a little more than 6%. In 2013-14, which was the record harvest before this year, production had grown only 3.08%. Government authorities monitored the farm situation relentlessly with the help of field visits, video conferencing and regular meetings of the Crop Weather Watch group, which helped cultivators bounce back after two consecutive monsoon failures, officials said.
The government had also taken step to insulate farmers from distress with mitigation measures like Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna, adoption of water-saving technologies through the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna, use of soil health cards, timely dissemination of information with the help of mobile applications, Kisan portal, the state broadcaster’s Kisan channel and active support of the Agricultural Meteorology unit of the weather office, they said.
This year’s rice production is estimated to rise 4.26% to a record 108.86 million tonnes, while wheat output is expected to rise 4.7% to a record 96.64 million tonnes. Other crops where production is expected to rise to a record include coarse cereals, 44.34 million tonnes, maize 26.15 million tonnes, tur 4.2 million tonnes and urad 2.9 million tonnes. The government is giving special focus to the country’s pulses output, which had suffered in recent years, leading to a spurt in prices. Offiicals say that they expect the trend to continue as 2016-17 for the start of the five-year programme that targets pulses output of 24 million tonnes by the end of 2020-21.
This year’s target of 21.25 million tonnes of pulses is likely to be exceeded as the latest official estimates project a record output of 22.14 million tonnes, which is 35% higher than the previous year.
The strategy to raise the output of pulses includes motivating states to increase coverage of rainfed areas in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, UP, Tamil Nadu and rice fallows in eastern India. Official agencies have also created seed hubs to ensure availability of quality seeds, distribution of seed mini kits of pulses free of cost to farmers. This has helped popularize new varieties. The government also encouraged cultivation of pulses with initiatives such as higher minimum support prices along with an additional bonus to encourage higher planting by farmers. The government has also decided to procure 2 million tonnes of pulses through agencies such as Nafed and Food Corporation of India to ensure better price to farmers for their produce.
Procurement of crops through official agencies at the minimum support price insulates farmers from market fluctuation.
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES