Online Quiz Test

Agriculture needs a ‘natural’ boost

GS 2 Agriculture

In Context

  • For decades, policymakers have worked diligently to make Indian agriculture economically viable.

Agriculture in India

  •  India is one of the largest participants in the global agriculture industry, and agriculture is the primary source of income for approximately 55 percent of India’s population.


  • Has the largest area planted to wheat, rice, and cotton;
  • Is the largest producer of milk, pulses, and spices;
  • Is the second-largest producer of fruit, vegetables, tea, farmed fish, cotton, sugarcane, wheat, rice, cotton, and sugar.
  • India has the second-largest agricultural land in the world, and its agriculture sector employs roughly half of the country’s population.

Issues faced by the sector:

Food inflation

  • Despite the success in production that has ensured the nation’s food security, food inflation and its volatility remain a problem.

Crop productivity

  • In India is significantly lower than in other developed and emerging market economies due to a number of factors, including fragmented landholdings, lower farm mechanization, and lower public and private investment in agriculture.

Environmental hazards

  • Current overproduction of crops such as rice, wheat, and sugarcane has led to rapid groundwater depletion, soil degradation, and massive air pollution, calling into question the environmental sustainability of India’s current agricultural practices.

Overutilization of fertilisers

  • The government spends well over?1 lakh crore annually on fertiliser subsidies, which amounts to roughly?7,000 per farmer.
  • This resulted in the indiscriminate application of fertilisers, which caused irreparable ecological harm, infertility of the soil, and a toxic food chain.
  • The soil in Punjab is toxic due to the use of 246 kg of fertilisers per hectare, as opposed to the national average of 135 kg.

Manures, Fertilizers and Biocides

  • Crops have been grown on Indian soils for thousands of years without much regard for replenishment. This has resulted in the depletion and exhaustion of soils, which has decreased their productivity.


  • Although India is the second most irrigated country in the globe, only one-third of the cropped land is irrigated. In a tropical monsoon nation like India, irrigation is the most essential agricultural input.

Conventional method of cultivation

  • Despite the widespread mechanization of agriculture in certain regions of the country, the vast majority of agricultural operations are performed by hand using basic and conventional tools and implements such as wooden ploughs, sickles, etc.

Agricultural marketing

  • Agricultural marketing in rural India remains in poor condition. In the absence of effective marketing facilities, farmers must rely on local merchants and middlemen to dispose of their cheaply-priced agricultural products.

Policy options for agriculture:

Digitalisation of agriculture

  • Agri start-ups are placing the farmer first by supplying seeds, fertilisers, and pesticides directly through apps/call centers/channel partners, obtaining loans, purchasing crop insurance, and selling their produce at the best price.
  • By providing ‘full-stack’ solutions from’seed to market,’ these modern enterprises make the lives of producers easier.
  • Using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics, DeHaat, based in Gurugram, serves 15 lakh farmers cultivating over 35 commodities.
  • Farmers with smartphones typically have access to digitalized agri-services for agri-inputs, farm advisory, and the commercialization of agricultural products.

Integrated/natural farming

  •  Integrated/natural agriculture is suggested for some producers who cultivate unprofitable landholdings.
  • How?
  • If the farmer chooses integrated farming, which includes a few milking animals, backyard poultry, a fish pond, and vermiculture for producing natural manure, he will be financially independent and self-reliant.
  • Family labor is the most essential aspect of integrated agriculture, which makes it economically and ecologically viable.

Climate smart agriculture

  • It is imperative to switch to eco-friendly agri-inputs such as Nano Urea, which are cost-effective, facilitate logistics, and substantially increase crop yields.
  • In fact, a 500 ml vial of Nano Urea costs approximately?240 and can replace a 45 kg bag of urea, which costs approximately?3,000 on the market.


  • Adopting optimal agricultural practices – Israel as an example
  • Israel is a significant exporter of farm-produced goods and a global leader in agricultural technologies, including the Internet of Things, despite the fact that its climate, water resources, and more than half of its land area are unsuitable for agricultural production.Agriculture in Israel is based on co-operative principles, which are primarily practiced by two farming communities, Kibbutz and Moshav, which adhere to social equality, co-operation, and mutual assistance in order to generate the most productive agricultural output.

Say ‘no’ to informal credit

  • A recent field survey in 5 States (Telangana, Karnataka, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) reveals that money lenders/traders/landlords still exist in rural India despite the availability of formal sources of finance from banks/financial institutions.
  • In addition to alleviating farmers’ access to formal credit, they must also be counseled on financial prudence.

Leveraging Collectives

  • Convergence of SHGs, Farmers Producer Organisations (FPOs), and Co-operatives will increase farmers’ bargaining power in terms of
  • bulk procurement of inputs at a discounted price,
  • economies of scale in transportation and warehousing,
  • access to low-cost institutional finance, farm mechanisation (drones for monitoring of crops and spraying of fertilisers and plant protection chemicals, etc.), and
  • aggregation in selling agri-product at remun

Development of agri-value chains

  • Key agri-value chain drivers include customer focus, infrastructure, technology, training, and capacity building.
  • A case in point is VAPCOL, a multi-state farmer producer company headquartered in Maharashtra.
  • Its membership consists of 55 FPOs representing over 40,000 tribal producers in seven states.
  • Agri-export cluster development may be encouraged in addition to managing monsoon and market risks.
Government initiatives for the sector:

National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGPA)

·        It was initially introduced in 2010-11 as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme in seven pilot states.

·        It seeks to accomplish rapid development in India by utilizing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to provide farmers with timely access to agriculture-related information.


Establishment of the National Agriculture Market (eNAM):

·        It is a pan-Indian electronic trading portal that connects the extant APMC mandis to form a unified national market for agricultural products.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

·        It was launched during the Kharif 2016 season and provides insurance coverage for all stages of the crop cycle, including post-harvest hazards in certain circumstances, with a low premium contribution by farmers.

National Mission For Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)

·         It was designed to increase agricultural productivity, particularly in rainfed areas, by emphasizing integrated farming, water use efficiency, soil health management, and resource conservation synergy.

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY):

·         It was created with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet ko pani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a targeted manner with an end-to-end solution for source creation, distribution, management, field application, and extension activities.

Pradhan Mantri Annadata Aay Sanrakshan Abhiyan (PM-AASHA)

·         It aims to guarantee farmers remunerative prices for their produce, as outlined in the 2018 Union Budget.

Kisan Credit Card (KCC

·        The government has made KCC available to farmers engaged in animal husbandry and fishing-related activities.

Per Drop More Crop Initiative

·          Under this initiative, drip/sprinkler irrigation is encouraged for optimal water use, reducing input costs and increasing crop yield.


Daily Mains Question

[Q] What challenges does India’s agriculture sector face? What policy options could make Indian agriculture economically viable over the long term?