New green revolution must ensure food for all and at the same time protect soil health and farmer economy.
Today one of the hot topics is next green revolution across the country. What happened to Dr. Swaminathan committee report submitted during the year 2006? Before the policy maker designs the next green revolution first analyze the success and failure of the present green revolution. Even though the country has achieved self sufficiency, the producer – the farmer economy crippled. The main reason for this situation is that the then policy makers have addressed issues related to irrigation facilities, inputs such as chemical fertilizers, seeds, pesticides and improved agronomic practices, extension services etc and achieved one sided success.
Unfortunately two issues were taken for granted one is farmer’s economy and second is soil health. As per the World Bank report Agricultural extension has miserably failed to play its role in our country. We must accept that the failure was not due to lack of knowledge among Agricultural professionals but due to policies of Government of India. It is known fact that the knowledge of farmers in using chemical fertilizers is highly disappointing. Excess and indiscriminate use of urea has led to depletion of soil health and increased use of other input such pesticides yet not increased the yields.
It is essential for effective and successful next green revolution that the following points be addressed.
1. Fix the accountability of the extension services. Give them the free hand to work in the field with a target increasing the production, contain the cultivation cost, and protect the soil health and also provide residue free healthy food to the nation.
Most of the time the Agriculture extension officials are being used for various unrelated works, with which they are unable to spend required time in the professional work. It may not be out place to mention that medical doctors are not disturbed from their duties for any governmental work because doctors are busy treating sick people, but extension officials are drawn for all pretty works, because their professional activity is considered evidently less important. In India there is no appropriate system of updating the agriculture professionals time to time with latest findings. The inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides trade is in the hands of non qualified persons whose motive is only making profit by hook or crook. The agriculture education should be modified to meet the challenges of today. If proper accountable system is in place lot of present issues such as excessive use of chemical fertilizers, indiscriminate use of pesticides and depleted soil health will be taken care by the agriculture professionals.
Make the farmers understand the importance of ploughing back all the crop residues in to the soil and also green manure crops since there is no FYM as most of the farmers are not maintaining cattle for agriculture operations instead using farm machinery.
2. Cropping area identification based on the best potential in India
As of now there is no such plan that exists in India as a national policy based on our country’s requirement. Presently farmer decides what crop he would like to plant. May be in some areas he does not have an option, but many areas in India there is choice but unfortunately farmers do not have the required knowledge/skill to identify the crop best suitable to his area or which can give him best remuneration.
Sugar cane cultivation in our Country is a case in point:
Sometimes India imports / exports commodities such as sugar and cotton and some other produces but there is consistency. Presently we are forced to import oils and pulses. This year we have more sugar stocks and there is glut in the market. This type situation is mainly because of lack of planning and designing policies and fixing MSPs, by Govt. of India.
U. P. is having highest acreage under sugarcane cultivation, with lowest yield per hectare and with lowest recovery per ton of cane. Unfortunately the policy makers give highest (around Rs. 2900/=/ton) support price to farmers for sugarcane in UP. No doubt if such price is not given to farmers it is not at all economical for the farmers to grow sugarcane in the state of UP. Now sugar prices are decided by the demand and supply in the open market where as raw material (sugarcane) prices are fixed by the govt. Because of lowest recovery of sugar from such sugarcane crop the sugar industry in U.P is on the verge of closing.
On the other hand in other tropical states Sugarcane price per ton is lower than the subtropical region. It is hard to understand the thinking of the policy makers. The common man’s understanding is that this sort of anomaly is maintained for political reasons. Is it not the time to think of the national interest and food security of the country to rationalize cropping areas so that our average product status improves? Under present circumstance if farmers of the tropical regions are encouraged to cultivate sugarcane with modern irrigation systems such as drip irrigation, the input use efficiency will improve, inputs quantity will get reduced , water usage will be lower and in half or in one third of the acreage in tropical region, produce present quantity of sugar without much difficulty. Further if the area (more than 20 lakh hectares) in the sub tropical region, which is suitable for many other food crops such as oilseeds, pulses, cereals with sustainable support price the country will be self sufficient even after hundred years.
In support of my views I am furnishing some statistics for your ready reference.
Mill Sugar Production by State, in thousand metric tons, crystal weight basis
|State / MYs||2011/12||2012/13||2013/14||2014/15|
|Sources: MYs 2011/12 and 2012/13 – Indian Sugar Mills Association; MYs 2013/14 and 2014/15 – FAS/New Delhi Estimate. Note: Excludes khandsari sugar, as state-wise breakout is not available.
|In Maharashtra the sugarcane cultivated acreage is less than half of UP acreage under Sugarcane.
Comparative Commodity Support Price Table, INR per metric ton, Minimum Support Price (MSP) or Fair Remunerative Price (FRP)
|Rice (Grade A)||10,300||11,100||12,800||13,450|
|State Advised Price (SAP) for Sugarcane, by State|
|FRP for 2013/14 at 9.5 percent recovery, subject to a premium of INR 2.21 for every 0.1 percent increase in recovery above 9.5 percent. 2: Sugar mills pay market price. Source: Indian Sugar Mills Association Note: The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, GOI has recommended a FRP for sugar season 2014/15at INR 220 per quintal at 9.5 percent recovery level.
Source: India Sugar Annual Report 2014.
Rice cultivation in kavery delta of Tamil Nadu
Yet another example is Rice cultivation in Kaveri basin in Tamil Nadu. Many farmers grow three Rice crops in the same area and many times in given month one can see various stages of Rice from seedlings to harvest in the same area. This system will harbor many pests and disease as well as difficulties to the fellow farmers.
In my view it is not the correct practice
The policy makers should take a view to have one main Rice crop across the entire area once the reservoir is full. Subsequently depending on the water availability part of the area can grow Rice and in some acreages irrigated dry crops such as ground nut, sunflower, pulses etc. so the there will be crop rotation and it can be operated in rotation basis in the area.
This method can improve productivity as well as soil health in long run.
Worldwide there is hue and cry about tobacco consumption in various ways, Why India should continue to allow the cultivation, is it because government earns revenue from this crop or the tobacco farmers do not have any option to replace to tobacco with other useful or required food crop, is big question in the common mans mind.
1. Introduce crop insurance like vehicle insurance to cover every acre sown and protect farmer’s economy by not giving mercy peanuts.
In India we have insurance for properties, goods in go-downs, also in transit, life insurance and medical and accident cover for human beings. Unfortunately the insurance in Agriculture is very haphazard, where as it should have been in place in the first instance as it is done in the open and exposed to all natural vagaries. The insurance cover should be very comprehensive so that every acre sown must be insured so that in the event of crop loss due to any climatic vagaries farmers are compensated suitably without the mercy of any favouritism.
2. Msp should be based on actual cost of cultivation not on the basis of political whims & wishes
Of late the MSP exercise has become fares to compensate the farmers not based on the real facts but more of political interest and some times sympathy. The biased approaches on regional basis or crop basis should be discontinued.
3. Rewrite the fertilizer control order and insecticide acts as per the present day requirement
Fertilizers are very important inputs to increase the productivity but at the same time there should be a limit to use chemical fertilizers. Already in many areas the excessive use of chemical fertilizers has started resulting in giving diminishing returns. Soil health is at stake. If the free use of chemical fertilizers continues I am afraid that the future generation will not be in position to raise any crop in the present farm lands.
Hence it is a must to bring in, a system to restrict the excess use of chemical fertilizers by some regulatory mechanism by Agriculture extension services.
4. Introduce policy to consolidate farm land to make it viable for farming than fragmenting further making people permanently poor
Presently lot of owners are not doing the cultivation themselves. The persons who worked as labourers earlier have become lease tenants, whose interest is immediate return on their investment and they are not bothered about the soil health. Until and unless the leasing is regularized with some protection to land owners, the continuity of lease to the same farmer do not happen. Hence it is essential to make long term leases legally so that soil health protection will be taken care by the farmer and the lessee… The policy makers should incorporate the land ownership rights and amend land lease rights to increase the productivity. With the introduction of improved seeds or other technologies even if there is increase in productivity it may not be consistent, until and unless the soil health is improved.
5. Research must focus on practicable mechanisation of agriculture(10 to 15 acres) as the population dependency on agriculture will further reduce to 30% from present 53% in next one or two decades.
The research scientists should focus on mechanizing farm activities which should be easily adoptable by medium size farmers having 10 to 15 acres. Further in the villages many bright children of farmers have migrated to cities after their higher education. Very few young farmers are left in the villages. They should be encouraged to take up co operative farming by taking their relatives land on long term lease and create profitable, viable farms with technology adoption. Our county’s productivity per hectare will only increase if we protect our farm land, health and farmer economy. The government should also explore privatizing extension services so that farmers will have choice to choose their advisors based on merit. Let the extension services in the country take responsibility to produce healthy and balanced nutritious food to the nation and become proud and respectable professionals. Protect the farm land health to grow crops in future by the future generations economically.
Next green revolution must ensure the best for all the stake holders.
By Ch.Narasimha Rao & Dr. K.Satyanarayana