Skills shortage hampering farm mechanisation
GS1 Urbanization GS 2 Government Policies & Interventions
- The National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) has just released a white paper titled “Making India a Global Power in the Farm Machinery Industry.”
- Farm mechanisms refers to the development and use of machines that can replace human and animal labor in agricultural processes, with the ultimate goal of maximizing overall productivity and production at the lowest possible cost.
- Farm mechanisms in India may have made significant advances in recent years, with India being the largest tractor market in the world. This has had a profoundly positive effect on the use of machinery on farmlands in India, including the output value, income, and return rate of all types of crops.
Significance of Farming in India:
- Issues such as rapid urbanization, population expansion, and climate change increase the possibility of food insecurity. These recommendations are indispensable for ensuring the food security of both urban and rural communities. This benefit has long been emphasized in urban agricultural arguments.
Fulfilling nutrition demand:
- According to a 2010 report by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai, fifty percent of urban women and children are anemic due to inadequate nutrition. The study also suggests a concentration on agriculture.
- In 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations acknowledged that urban and periurban agriculture can contribute to local food and nutritional requirements, create jobs, and reduce poverty on a global scale.
Issues & challenges noted by NCEAR:
- The paper exposes a mismatch between what the organized industrial sector produces, particularly in the non-tractor segment, and what small and marginal Indian farmers desire.
- The agricultural mechanization industry faces both demand- and supply-side obstacles.
- Farm mechanism in India, at 40-45%, remains low compared to the rest of the globe; in the United States, it stands at 95%, in Brazil at 75%, and in China at 57%.
- India is frequently described as “tractorised” rather than “mechanized.”
- The tractor industry represents only 38% of the total industry (tractor + farm equipment) on a global scale.
- It accounts for 80% of the industry in India.
- On the supply side, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) suffer from a lack of skilled personnel, resulting in a low-equilibrium trap for the industry.
- It is not surprising that village craftsmen, who fall at the bottom of the pyramid in the industry, form the largest group and are the ones who end up largely catering to the Indian farmers in terms of supply, repair, and maintenance of farm machinery.
- In the case of small-scale fabricators, there are few qualified administrators to monitor quality.
- It is also difficult to locate qualified personnel for testing machinery.
Lack of awareness
- As a result of a dearth of adequate information and awareness among farmers regarding the technology and management of machinery, their selection of machinery is often subpar and a waste of capital.
- State agricultural universities, ICAR and other institutes that have tractor training centres, Krishi Vigyan Kendras and industry (through their dealers) should be responsible for training young farmers/owners/operators on how to select, operate, and service farm machinery.
- They should also provide information on developments in mechanisation, including the availability of new and better farm equipment for various applications.
Training on new-generation farm machinery
- The programmes of front-line demonstration of farm machinery should be strengthened.
- Handheld training to users of new-generation farm machinery may encourage the extension and adoption of farm power.
Engaging various institutions
- The Agricultural Skills Council of India should work at the district level to address skilling shortages on the demand side; public-private partnerships with Custom Hiring Centres may be particularly beneficial.
- ICAR institutes can offer short courses that address skills shortages on the demand side, and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) can be utilized to address skill gaps in repair and maintenance.
Setting up of Service centres
- Service centres at the regional and state levels may be promoted in the private and industrial sectors. Each center can also rent out machines with the corresponding service bundle. Such service enterprises will also establish employment opportunities for qualified youth in the region.
Addressing demand & supply-side constraints
- Extension programs must be bolstered to resolve demand-side concerns.
- On the supply side, the District Industries Centre should collaborate with local industrial clusters so that ITIs can offer courses that incorporate the most current technical knowledge and skills.
Vocational skilling programmes
- Industrial clusters in tier-II and tier-III cities will benefit tremendously from dual vocational skilling programs;
- MSMEs should also leverage the Apprentices Policy of the Central Government. This may be a win-win scenario for young people.
- Mechanisation on farmlands is essential for the sustainable and productive growth of this sector and the rural economy as a whole.Inherent to the concept of Atma Nibhar Krishi is proficiency with domestic agricultural machinery.
- The government’s procurement scheme must prioritize agricultural equipment made in India, while PLIs are used to encourage local production.
Daily Mains Question
[Q] It is often stated that India is “tractorised”, not “mechanised”. Analyse signifying the need for Farm Mechanisation in India. What are the challenges?