Current Affairs - Agriculture & Allied Sector
- Recently, the government sanctioned 32 projects under the ‘Unit’ scheme of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY).
- The projects approved are running across quadrilaterals of the country covering over 100 agro-climatic zones, in 17 States across the country.
About Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana
- The Central Sector Scheme - SAMPADA (Scheme for Agro-Marine Processing and Development of Agro-Processing Clusters) was approved by the cabinet in May 2017 for the period of 2016-20 coterminous with the 14th Finance Commission cycle.
- In 2017, SAMPADA was renamed as the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana (PMKSY).
- PMKSY focuses on the reduction of agricultural waste, modernizes the procedure of processed food products, and supplement agriculture.
Schemes to be implemented
Under PMKSY the following schemes are to be implemented:
- Mega Food Parks
- Integrated Cold Chain and Value Addition Infrastructure
- Creation/ Expansion of Food Processing/ Preservation Capacities (Unit Scheme)
- Infrastructure for Agro-processing Clusters
- Creation of Backward and Forward Linkages
- Food Safety and Quality Assurance Infrastructure
- Human Resources and Institutions
- Operation Greens
- It is a comprehensive package which will result in creation of modern infrastructure with efficient supply chain management from farm gate to retail outlet.
- It will provide a big boost to the growth of food processing sector in the country.
- It will help in providing better prices to farmers and is a big step towards doubling of farmer’s income.
- It will create huge employment opportunities especially in the rural areas.
- It will also help in reducing wastage of agricultural produce, increasing the processing level, availability of safe and convenient processed foods at affordable price to consumers and enhancing the export of the processed foods.
Indian Food Processing Sector
- The food sector has emerged as a high-growth and high-profit sector due to its immense potential for value addition, particularly within the food processing industry.
- The Processed food market is expected to grow to $ 543 bn by 2020 from $ 322 bn in 2016, at a CAGR of 14.6%.
- The sector contributes around 11% of agricultural value-added and 9% of manufacturing value-added. According to the ministry of food processing industries annual report, the sector employs 12.8% of the workforce in the organised sector and 13.7% of the workforce in the unorganised sector.
Government Measures to Boost Food Processing
- 100% FDI is permitted under the automatic route in food processing industries.
- 100% FDI is allowed through Government Approval route for trading (including e-commerce) in respect of food products manufactured in India
- Under the Make in India initiative, the Government plans to stimulate growth in the Food Processing sector through the creation of a strong infrastructure, reduction of food wastage and promotion of Ease of Doing Business (EODB) measures.
- MoFPI is having a dedicated investor portal in which a range of information like resource base, availability of land, state specific policies, fiscal incentives, etc. are shared with potential investors to attract investments in the food processing sector.
- The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006,envisage regulation of manufacture, storage, distribution, sale and import of foods to ensure availability of wholesome and hygienic food for human consumption.
Analysis of Indian Food Processing Sector
- Abundant availability of diverse types of raw material and varied agro-climatic zones.
- Leading producer of various agricultural commodities such as milk, fruits and vegetables, marine products, etc.
- Priority sector status for agro-processing given by the central Government.
- Growing domestic market.
- Proximity to growing international markets like Gulf, Middle East etc. with a sea route.
- Lack of adequate infrastructural facilities, viz., Power, Road & Rail connectivity, Storage, etc.
- Large number of intermediaries in the supply chain leading to wastage and price rise at each level. Capital intensive - High requirement of working capital because of the seasonal nature of raw material.
- Lack of established linkages between R&D labs and the industry
- Lack of comprehensive national food processing policy leading to inconsistency in Central and State policies.
- Delays in land acquisition due to requirement of conversion of land use (non-agricultural use permission).
- Lengthy procedures for Government clearance.
- Inadequate facilities for mentoring of Start Ups & pilot testing of technologies and innovations. There is also lack of applied research on processes and technology.
- High cost of manufacturing and packaging making the products as luxury items and unaffordable to common population.
- Fluctuation of raw material prices leading to viability issues in food industries.
- Inadequate flow of credit, especially for working capital requirement.
- Non-availability of skilled man power for food processing is a big challenge.
- Poor adoption of quality standards by food industry leading to lowering of brand value of Indian Food Industry.
- Lack of market intelligence and brand building of Indian Food Processing Industries.
Suggested Action Plan
- A National Food Processing Policy may be formulated to follow a uniform approach for food processing sector on Pan-India basis.
- Relax non-agricultural land use permission for food industry procuring raw materials directly from the farmers and to Farmer Producer Organisations.
- The Single Window approach for Government clearances may need to be in place in all the States.
- Providing affordable credit to food processing Industry to promote creation of investments in the sector.
- Enlarging the scope of credit guarantee fund / creation of a risk fund will help in mitigating stress on banking industry on financing the sector which is mostly of seasonal nature and capital and labour intensive.
- Creation of a National Brand EquityFund for Food Industry with a contribution from Industry Associations, GoI, etc. to India brands internationally.
- Make in India to give focus on manufacture of plant and machinery and packaging materials locally to reduce cost of production.
- Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, popularly known as (PM-KISAN) scheme completed one year on 24th February, 2020.
- The scheme was launched by the government on 24th February, 2019, in Gorakhpur district, Uttar Pradesh.
About PM-KISAN Scheme
- PM-KISAN is a Central Sector scheme with 100% funding from Government of India with an aim to increase the income of farmers by offering income support to all landholding farmers’ families across India.
- The Scheme is effective from 1st December, 2018.
- Under the Scheme an amount of Rs.6000/- per year is transferred in three 4-monthly installments of Rs. 2000/- directly into the bank accounts of the farmers, subject to certain exclusion criteria relating to higher income status.
- The financial benefits are released to the beneficiaries on the basis of the data of farmers prepared and uploaded by them on the PM-Kisan web-portal.
- At present, all states except West Bengal are implementing the scheme.
- It initially provided income support to all Small and Marginal Farmer’s (SMF) families across the country, holding cultivable land upto 2 hectares.
- Later, its ambit was expanded e.f. 1st June, 2019 to cover all farmer families in the country irrespective of the size of their land holdings.
- Affluent farmers have been excluded from the scheme such asIIncome Tax payers in last assessment year, professionals like Doctors, Engineers, Lawyers, Chartered Accountants, etc. and pensioners drawing at least Rs.10,000/- per month (excluding Multi Tasking Staff (MTS)/Class IV/Group D employees).
- Special provisions have been made for the North-Eastern States where land ownership rights are community based, Forest Dwellers, and Jharkhand, which does not have updated land records and restrictions on transfer of land.
Progress So Far
- The Central Government has already released more than Rs. 50850 crores till now.
- Total number of beneficiaries to be covered under the scheme is about 14 crore, based on estimates of the Agriculture Census 2015-16.
- As on 20th February 2020, farmer families of 8.46 crores have been given the benefits.
- The significance of PM-KISAN is that, for the first time, an attempt has been made to transfer income directly to farmers without using price policy (of either inputs or output).
- In most of the programmes in the past, the policy instrument used has always been price.
- The main advantage is that the benefits are not linked to production of any crop. And since the benefits are not linked to production, the resultant supply-demand imbalance is expected to be minimal, unlike in the case of minimum support prices (MSPs).
- Also, there is no need of procurement, storage and distribution of all the commodities. Instead, procurement can be limited to only those commodities that are needed for public distribution system. This should lead to much lower fiscal costs and lesser storage infrastructure.
Issues with PM-KISAN
- In India, majority of the States have incomplete tenancy records and land data are not digitized.
- For example, Bihar has registered only one third of its farmers because of lack of digital data. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have identified 55-60% of their farmers as beneficiaries while Chhattisgarh has verified less than half of its farmers. Uttar Pradesh has verified 85% of the 25 million farmers it has, as per the agricultural census of 2016, while Rajasthan has registered 80% of its farmers.
Difficulty in Identifying Beneficiary Farmers
- According to agricultural census of 2015-16, number of landholdings in the country was projected at Rs 14.65 crore. But, landholdings do not determine the number of farmer families present in the country, as there are multiple owners for a single land. In such scenario, all the farmer families which own the land are eligible for the scheme.
- It may also happen that a single farmer holds multiple lands. The agricultural census may record multiple landholdings which PM-Kisan scheme would otherwise recognise as single farmer.
- PM-KISAN payments have to be direct bank transfers. This involves, inter alia, two big problems: (i) lack of last-mile banking connectivity in the country and (ii) possibility of banks offsetting the transferred amount to settle outstanding loans of the beneficiary, leaving the beneficiary high and dry.
- PM-KISAN is an ambitious scheme that has the potential to deliver significant welfare outcomes. However, the current top-down, rushed approach of the government ignores governance constraints and is therefore likely to result in failure.
- An alternative bottom-up strategy and well-planned implementation mechanism would allow weaknesses to be identified and rectified at the local level. The most effective modalities can then be scaled nationally ensuring success.
- Despite the initial challenges, the scheme can pave the way for a slew of fresh measures in near future to support the farm sector and help to achieve the target of doubling farmers’ income by the year 2022.
- On 19th February, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved revamping of "PradhanMantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)" and "Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS)" to address the existing challenges in implementation of Crop Insurance Schemes.
- These changes are proposed to be implemented from Kharif2020 Season throughout the country.
- The move is aimed at increasing the coverage rate and enabling farmers to manage their agricultural risk in a better way.
- The Centre was under pressure to make necessary changes in PM FasalBimaYojana after Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar decided to exit the scheme citing high costs and the need to customize it based on geographical diversities.
Major Changes Made
Reduced Premium Share of Centre
- Until now, farmers pay a fixed share of the premium: 2% of the sum insured for kharif crops, 1.5% for rabi crops and 5% for cash crops. Currently, the Centre and State split the balance of the premium equally.
- Now it is decided to cap the Centre’s premium subsidy under these schemes for premium rates up to 30% for un-irrigated areas/crops and 25% for irrigated areas/crops.
- Districts having 50% or more irrigated area will be considered as irrigated area/district for both the schemes.
- However, Central share in Premium Subsidy to be increased to 90% for North Eastern States from the existing sharing pattern of 50:50.
Advance Technology Solution for Loss Estimation
- For estimation of crop losses/admissible claims, two-Step Process to be adopted based on defined Deviation Matrixusing specific triggers like weather indicators, satellite indicators, etc. for each area along with normal ranges and deviation ranges.
- Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) will not be mandatory for crop estimation, which is used to determine claim payouts.
- Only areas with deviations will be subject to Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) for assessment of yield loss (PMFBY).
- Now cut-off dates for states to release their share of premium subsidy has been fixed.
- Cut-off dates for invoking this provision for Kharif and Rabi seasons will be 31st March and 30th September of successive years respectively.
- If states don’t release their share before the stipulated date, they won’t be allowed to implement the scheme.
Flexibility for States to Select Risk Cover
- The government has given flexibility to states/UTs to implement PMFBY and RWBCIS, and given them the option to select any number of additional risk covers/features like prevented sowing, localised calamity, mid-season adversity, and post-harvest losses. Earlier, these risk covers were mandatory.
- Further, States/UTs can offer specific single peril risk/insurance cover, like hailstorm, etc. under PMFBY even with or without opting for base cover.
- In another significant change, enrolment in the two schemes has also been made voluntary for all farmers, including those with existing crop loans. When the PMFBY was launched in 2016, it was made mandatory for all farmers with crop loans to enroll for insurance cover under the scheme.
Compulsory Time Period for Insurance Companies
- It is proposed to modify certain parameters and provisions of the ongoing schemes of PMFBY and RWBCIS under which allocation of business to insurance companies will be done for three years.
- Currently, the tenders floated by the States are for one-year, two-year or three-year periods.
- Stabilizing Farm Income:With these changes it is expected that farmers would be able to manage risk in agriculture production in a better way and will succeed in stabilizing the farm income.
- Better Risk Management and Increased Coverage:Further, it will increase coverage in north eastern region enabling farmers to manage their agricultural risk in a better way.
- Accurate Loss Estimation:The proposed two-step loss estimation processwill enable quick and accurate yield estimation leading to faster claims settlement.
- The Centre’s decision has invited criticismfrom many with some saying the move foretells the impending death of the scheme.According to the critics, reduction in premium subsidy means that the states will have to bear extra burden on premiums. As such, many states have been unable to bear their share of premiums.
- By capping the subsidy for premium rates up to 30%, the Centre wants to dis-incentivise certain crops in such areas where growing these crops involve high risks in terms of crop insurance premiums.
- Additionally, it will lead to a rise in the rates of premium, as the area covered under insurance and the number of enrolled farmers is expected to come down significantly.
- Further, making participation voluntary is one way of lifting the security net of farmers.Non-loanee farmers under the crop insurance schemes are much fewer than loanee farmers. If the latter opt out of the schemes, the number of insured farmers will drastically come down.
- PMFBY drew flak from a wide variety of stakeholders. Farmer groups and opposition politicians have claimed that private insurance companies have made windfall gains on the scheme.
- Contrarily, several major insurers, including ICICI Lombard and Tata AIG, have opted out of the scheme in 2019-20, reportedly due to losses because of high claims ratios.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
- PMFBY was launched in 2016, after scraping down the earlier insurance schemes viz. Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS),Weather-based Crop Insurance Scheme and the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS).
- To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in theevent of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities,pests & diseases.
- To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
- To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
- To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.
Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS)
- Launched in 2016, RWBCIS aims to mitigate the hardship of the insured farmers against the likelihood of financial loss on account of anticipated crop loss resulting from adverse weather conditions relating to rainfall, temperature, wind, humidity, etc.
- WBCIS uses weather parameters as “proxy” for crop yields in compensating the cultivators for deemed crop losses.
- Pay-out structures are developed to the extent of losses deemed to have been suffered using the weather triggers.
Coverage of Crops
- Food Crops (Cereals, Millets and Pulses)
- Commercial/ Horticultural Crops
- The Central government’s flagship programme - Soil Health Card Scheme completed 5 years of its implementation.
Soil Health Card Scheme (Swasth Dhara Khet Hara)
- The International year of soils was celebrated in 2015 and the same year India’s unique programme of ‘Soil Health Card’ was launched on February 19, 2015, from Suratgarh (Rajasthan) to assess the nutrient status of every farm holding in the country.
- The scheme is promoted by the Department of Agriculture & Co-operation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare. It is being implemented through the Department of Agriculture of all the State and Union Territory Governments.
- Punjab became the first state in India to issue Soil Health Cards (SHCs) to its farmers in May, 2015
Objective of the Programme
- To issue soil health cards to farmers every 2 years so as to provide a basis to address nutritional deficiencies in fertilization practises.
- To diagnose soil fertility related constraints with standardized procedures for sampling uniformly across states.
- To develop and promote soil test based nutrient management in the districts for enhancing nutrient use efficiency.
- To strengthen functioning of Soil Testing Laboratories (STLs) through capacity building
- Due to rapid industrialization & urbanization, over exploitation of natural resources, excessive use of agro-chemicals, unauthorized cutting of forest, intensive & extensive cultivation, intensive cropping pattern, high yielding varieties of crops and increased use of high analysis chemically pure fertilizers, etc., soil fertility is depleting at an alarming rate, across the country.
- Soil Health Card is field-specific detailed report of soil fertility status and other important soil parameters that affect crop productivity.
- Details in a Soil Health Card-
- Information regarding soil fertility
- Dosage of fertilizer application in crops
- Information on soil amendments of saline or alkaline soil
- Recommendation on integrated nutrient management
- Soil Test Laboratory (STL): It provides the status of soil with respect to 12 parameters:
- Macro nutrients – Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium
- Secondary nutrient – Sulphur, Calcium
- Micro nutrients – Zinc, Ferrous, Manganese, Copper
- Physical parameters – pH, electrical conductivity (EC) and organic carbon (OC)
- Soil samples are being drawn in a grid of 2.5 ha in irrigated area and 10 ha in rain-fed area with the help of GPS tools and revenue maps.
- Based on this, the SHC provides information to farmers on nutrient status of their soil along with recommendation on appropriate dosage of nutrients to be applied for improving soil health and its fertility.
- SHC provides two sets of fertilizer recommendations for six crops including recommendations of organic manures. Farmers can also get recommendations for additional crops on demand. SHC portal has farmers’ database of both the cycles and is available in 21 languages for the benefit of the farmers.
- SHC will ensure that farmers do not spend money unnecessarily on purchase of fertilizers by adding more than required and will help in restoring the degraded status of soil profile across the country.
- According to a study conducted by the National Productivity Council (NPC), the overall impact of the scheme has been positive, leading to maximisation and sustainable growth at farm level by cost minimisation and through efficient utilisation of resources.
- Application of fertilisers as per the recommendation of SHC led to savings in nitrogen fertilisers like urea thereby reduction in cost of cultivation. For example, Paddy- the cost of cultivation has been reduced by 16-25% and savings of nitrogen is found to be around 20kg/acre.
- Savings on fertilisers and increase in production also resulted in increased income to the farmers. For example, Paddy: Increase in income around Rs.4500/- per acre.
- Judicious use of fertilisers also resulted in increased production of crops. For example, increase in production 10 - 20 % in paddy, 10 -15 % in wheat and jowar.
- The scheme is lagging behind due to gaps in manpower, both technical and non-technical staff, for collecting soil samples and thereafter testing them in labs.
- No uniform norms are followed in the country for soil analysis and distribution of soil health cards. Farmers often complain irregularity in soil sample collection and the soil test values are not representative of their fields.
- States are responsible in some cases for poor implementation; Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal didn’t have coherence and coordination with the policies of the Central Government, they didn’t release ample funds for the project and hence poor facilities like lack of STLs and unfilled vacancies in labs.
- In addition, many farmers are unable to understand the content, hence unable to follow the recommended practices.
- Through Soil Health Card Scheme, the Government is promoting integrated nutrient management (INM)e. balanced and judicious use of chemical fertilizers, along with bio-fertilizers and locally available organic manures based on soil testing to maintain soil health and crop productivity.
- This, in turn, ushering a new era of healthy soil management, leading closer achieving the goal of ‘Doubling the Farmer’s Income’ as well sustainable development across the country.
- On 12th February, 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the Pesticides Management Bill, 2020, which seeks to replace the Insecticides Act, 1968, for regulating the pesticide sector by fixing prices and setting up an authority.
- To regulate the business of pesticides and to promote the use of organic pesticides in the country.
- The current state of regulation of pesticides in India, using the extant law called Insecticides Act, 1968, has not caught up with post-modern pest management science nor has taken cognizance of a huge body of scientific evidence on the ill effects of synthetic pesticides.
- It is reported that eight states consume more than 70% of the pesticides used in India. Amongst the crops, paddy accounts for the maximum share of consumption (26-28%), followed by cotton (18-20%).
- The acute pesticide poisoning deaths and hospitalizations that Indian farmworkers and farmers fall prey to are ignominious by now. It is not just human beings but wildlife and livestock that are poisoned routinely by indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides across the country.
- The centre had released a draft of the Pesticides bill in February 2018 to replace the existing Insecticides Act of 1968. The draft bill proposed to raise penalties on the sale of prohibited pesticides to Rs. 50 lakh and a jail term up to five years from the current fine of Rs 2,000 and jail term up to three years.
- However, the Centre for Science and Environment, in 2018, had criticised the Bill for falling short as it provided inadequate representation to States in both pesticide board and the registration committee. According to it, the states should have a say in final decision making on pesticide, as they have the best understanding on the agro-ecological climate, environment and soil conditions.
- Complete Information: It provides farmers to be empowered to get all information about the strength and weakness of pesticides, the risk and alternatives as the data would be in open source and available in all languages. The information will also include details on the pesticide’s potential effects on the environment.
- Compensation Provision: It provides for compensating farmers in case of losses from use of spurious agro chemicals or low quality of pesticides. For this, if required, the government will form a central fund which will take care of compensation.
- Registration Requirement: Any person who wants to import, manufacture, or export pesticides would have to register under the new bill and provide all details regarding any claims, expected performance, efficacy, safety, usage instructions, and infrastructure available to stock that pesticide.
- Strict Regulatory Norms: It intends regulate pesticide-related advertisements to prevent manufacturers from making false claims about their products.
- Way to Sustainable Development: It will provide an opportunity to set right many shortcomings of the existing regulatory regime around pesticides in India and to clean up our food and farming systems, leading towards the sustainable development of the country.
- Reiterating the government’s commitment towards “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas , Sabka Vishwas” and “Ease of Living” for people of India, the Finance Minister, in Budget 2020-21, proposed 16 action points focusing on doubling Farmers income, Horticulture sector, Food storage, Animal Husbandry and Blue economy.
Doubling Farmers Income
- Resource efficiency is the first step in doubling farmer’s income and keeping this in mind, stress will be given on the balanced use of all kinds of fertilizers and Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)
- With the aim of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, it proposed to expand PM-KUSUM to 20 lakh farmers for setting up standalone solar pumps and help another 15 lakh farmers solarise their grid connected pump sets.
- Operationalize scheme to enable farmers to set up solar power generation capacity on their fallow/barren lands and to sell it to grid.
- The portal on “Jaivikkheti” – online national organic products market will also be strengthened.
- Integration of negotiable warehousing receipts (e-NWR) and National Agricultural Market (e-NAM).
Water Related Stress
- To address concerns related to water stress in various parts of the country, government proposed comprehensive measures for one hundred water stressed districts.
Storage and Logistics
- To promote storage infrastructure and reduce wastage of food grains, creation of warehouses through viability gap funding on a PPP mode at block level has been proposed.
- Warehouse construction will be done by Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC). As a backward linkage, village storage scheme to be run by Self Help Groups (SHG). Women SHGs can use this opportunity to regain their position as "DhanLakshi" and they can avail Mudra loans for opening storage facilities.
- To build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables, inclusive of milk, meat, Indian Railways will set up Kisan Rail-through PPP arrangements.
- To help improve value realization especially in North-East and tribal districts Krishi Udaan will be launched by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
- Recognizing the contribution of animal husbandry sector in farmer’s income, government aimed to eliminate Foot and Mouth disease, brucellosis in cattles and peste des petits ruminants (PPR) in sheep and goat by 2025 and to increase coverage of artificial insemination from 30 percent to 70 percent.
- Setting agriculture credit target of rupees 15 lakh crore for the year 2020-21.
- All eligible beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) will be covered under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme.
- For better marketing and export, government will support the states which, adopting a cluster basis will focus on one product one district.
- Government proposes to put in place a framework for development, management and conservation of marine fishery resources and promotion of algae, sea weed and cage culture that will assist in raising fish production to 200 lakh tonnes by 2022-23.
- Further, government will involve youth in fishery extension through Sagar Mitras and fish farmer producer organizations.
- Recently, Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to seamlessly integrate its land records with the web portal of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
- This integration has been rolled out during the 2019-20 rabi season, with farmers accessing their land details online at the enrollment centres.
- Maharashtra presents an interesting scenario with farmers not opting for crop loans enrolling for the scheme with their own money. Farmers who opt for bank loans are automatically enrolled for the scheme.
- Taking advantage of the lack of stringent verification process, several cases of over-insurance (insurance of more land than in possession) as well as insurance of ineligible people has been noted in recent times.
- Also there were instances of people insuring the same land parcel multiple times.
- This integration will help make the process of enrollment for crop insurance easy as well as help plug the leaks in the process, leading to the better implementation of PMFBY.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
- Launched in 2016, PMFBY provides a comprehensive insurance cover against failure of the crop thus helping in stabilising the income of the farmers.
- PMFBY replaced the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).
- The Weather-Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS) remains in place, though its premium rates have been made the same as in PMFBY.
- State governments have the authority to decide whether they want PMFBY, WBCIS or both in their respective states.
- To provide insurance coverage and financial support to the farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crop as a result of natural calamities, pests & diseases.
- To stabilise the income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming.
- To encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
- To ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector.
- Coverage of Farmers: The scheme covers loanee farmers (those who have taken a loan), non-loanee farmers (on a voluntary basis), tenant farmers, and sharecroppers.
- Coverage of Crops: Every state has notified crops (major crops) for the Rabi and Kharif It covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops.
- Premium Rates: It fixes a uniform premium of 2 percent of the sum insured, to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops, 5 percent of the sum insured for all Rabi crops, and 5 percent of sum insured for annual commercial and horticultural cropsor actuarial rate, which ever is less, with no limit on government premium subsidy.
- Area-based Insurance Unit: It operates on the basis of ‘Area Approach’ i.e., Defined Areas for each notified crop for widespread calamities.Thus, all farmers in a particular area must pay the same premium and have the same claim payments.
- Coverage of Risks: It aims to prevent sowing/planting risks, loss to standing crop, post-harvest losses and localised calamities. The sum insured is equal to the cost of cultivation per hectare, multiplied by the area of the notified crop proposed by the farmer for insurance.
- Use of Innovative Technology: It recommends the use of technology in agriculture. For example, using drones to reduce the use of crop cutting experiments (CCEs), which are traditionally used to estimate crop loss; and using mobile phones to reduce delays in claim settlements by uploading crop-cutting data on apps/online.
- Cluster Approach for Insurance Companies: For more effective implementation, a cluster approach is being adopted under which a group of districts with variable risk profiles will be allotted to an insurance company through competitive bidding for up to three year.
PMFBY comparison with NAIS and MNAIS
Challenges in PMFBY
- One of the major challenges that remain is How to segregate insurance and disaster relief. Insurance products have a commercial basis whereas the disaster relief for small and marginal farmers has a social implication.
- Lack of adequate databases for determining premiums and indemnities and lack of adequate infrastructure create constraints in implementing crop insurance in India, particularly in vulnerable and backward regions like Bundelkhand and Marathwada.
State Level Policy
- Delayed Notification: Many state governments have diluted PMFBY guidelines in their respective state notification as per their own convenience, which goes against the spirit of PMFBY. Delay in notification mean that farmers could not avail claims for prevented sowing.
- Sum Insured Lower than Scale of Finance (SoF): Though sum insured under the PMFBY is higher than in previous schemes, in many states sum insured is still far lower than the SoF. It seems that states have intentionally reduced the value of sum insured to decrease their part of subsidy to be paid for the premium. This significantly reduces the claim received by farmers, as only a fraction of cost of cultivation value is insured.
- Delay in Claim Payments: Many state governments have failed to pay the subsidy premiums on time, as paying these premiums eat into their budgets for the sector. This leads to insurance companies delaying or not making claim payments.
- Wrong Premium Deduction: It is observed that in in many instances, premium was deducted by banks for non-notified crops. Insurance companies receive premiums from farmers, but farmers are not insured for non-notified crops.
- Poor Capacity of Insurance Companies: Most of the Insurance companies involved lack manpower and infrastructure in rural areas. Insurance companies, especially private companies, have no functional office in tehsils and no agents are deployed at the block level, despite provision for it under PMFBY.
- Farmers Not Provided Policy Documents: Farmers have no direct connection with insurance companies. Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt. Farmers usually are not even aware if their premiums have been deducted and crops insured. Premium deduction by banks without informing the farmer is a huge concern.
- Lack of Coordination And Non-Existent Grievance Redressal Mechanism: There seems to be a clear lack of coordination between banks, insurance companies and nodal government departments (mainly the Agriculture Department).There is also poor coordination regarding grievance redressal. To whom should a farmer approach in the case of wrong premium deduction, non-payment of claim or fake crop-cutting experiments?
- Gaps in Assessment of Crop Loss: Assessment of crop loss remains a major concern because the sample sizes in each village are not large enough to capture the scale and diversity of crop losses. In many cases, district or block level agricultural department officials do not conduct such sampling on ground and complete the formalities only on paper.
- Corruption: There is huge scope of corruption during the implementation of the PMFBY like the previous insurance schemes.There is a nexus between insurance companies and the middlemen, depriving the farmers of their claim.
- Poor Capacity to Deliver: There has been no concerted effort by the state government and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper implementation of PMFBY. There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers. Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.
- Bangladesh is soon to announce the approval of golden rice for sale and use, making it first country in the world to embrace Golden Rice.
- Bangladesh completed the confined field testing of golden rice at the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in early 2017.
- In Bangladesh, the rice is being developed by the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute.
- Researchers bred the beta-carotene genes into a rice variety named dhan 29, which is grown widely during the dry season in Bangladesh and contributes about 14% of the national harvest.
Opposition in Bangladesh
- Bangladesh farmers and environment groups are angry over the government’s decision to allow commercial cultivation of Golden Rice.
- Activists fear that commercial cultivation would lead to the loss of Bangladesh’s rich bio-diversity. This could further push for public acceptance of genetically-modified crops, eroding the food diversity, traditional seeds, as well as increase corporate control on local agriculture system.
- They claim that in comparison to golden rice, sweet potato has more than 50 times more beta-carotene level. Further, sweet potatoes can be grown on even non-arable land in Bangladesh.
What is Golden Rice?
- Golden Rice is conventional rice that has been genetically engineered to have high levels of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A.
- To create golden rice, scientists modified rice plants with beta-carotene genes from maize. By doing this, rice plants started to produce the rich orange-coloured pigment.
Timeline of Development
- The search for a golden rice started off as a Rockefeller Foundation initiative in 1982.
- The breakthrough was achieved in the year 1999, when two biologists Ingo Potrykus of the Institute of Plant Sciences in Switzerland and Prof Peter Beyer at Freiburg University in Germany, successfully developed the golden rice.
- The first field trials of golden rice cultivars were conducted by Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in 2004.
- Later, additional trials have been conducted in the Philippines and Taiwan, and in Bangladesh.
- The two versions of Golden Rice developed so far- Golden Rice 1 and 2, both Japonica (sticky, dryland) rices.
- According to the World Health Organization(WHO) estimate, about 250 million preschool children are affected by VAD and about 2.7 million children die because of the deficiency. In the given scenario, adoption of Golden Rice could prove to very beneficial to the populations in the developing countries.
- Conventional rice is naturally low in the pigment beta-carotene, which the body uses to make Vitamin A. Golden rice contains this, which is the reason for its golden colour.
- Research has indicated that one cup of Golden Rice can provide up to 50 percent of the daily requirement of an adult for vitamin A.
- The rice has the potential to reduce or eliminate much of the death and disease caused by Vitamin A deficiency(VAD), which is the leading cause of blindness among children and can also lead to death due to infectious diseases such as measles.
- There are various economic benefits to be gained by countries that adopt Golden Rice. As Golden Rice tackles the issue of malnourishment, better public health allows for poor people to feel healthier and live longer, and therefore spend less on medical care; it can also increase unskilled labor productivity
- There has been storage issue with the Golden Rice as the beta-carotene in rice is unstable in the presence of oxygen. Thus, under normal storage conditions, the beta-carotene in Golden Rice grains will rapidly degrade.
- Under tropical farming, storage, and household conditions, degradation may be faster stillthat may prove even more troublesome for the proposed nutritional benefits of Golden Rice than its initial low levels.
- The Golden Rice should not be stored for more than three months after which it may lose its nutrients, making its consumption insignificant.
Quality and Quantitative Issue
- In 2017, a study by Indian Council of Agricultural Science discovered abnormalities in golden rice traits, and lower productivity in its traits, both qualitatively (lower Vitamin-A content) and quantitively (yield wise).
- Further, it has been noted that Golden Rice does not provide enough Vitamin A, 1.6 ug of vitamin A per gram of rice, as being claimed. One has to consume over 3300 grams of rice to achieve daily intake of Vitamin A. This amount would be too much for anyone living in areas that need the rice.
- Furthermore Vitamin A is fat soluble, so one will need fat in his diet to be able to intake the vitamin A. Unfortunately, adequate protein and fat are not readily available in developing nations where the grain is targeted at. Therefore it brings the debate as to whether this grain will have the health benefits it sets out to achieve.
- There have been raising concerns regarding the ethical implications of introducing Golden Rice.Is it fair to use developing nations as guinea pigs in this experiment?
- So far no research or tests have been done to indicate the human health effects on consumption of this genetically modified crop. It could be deemed inhumane to mass produce a crop without knowing its full implications, possibly putting millions of people’s lives at risk.
- Furthermore, forcing this crop onto indigenous farmers changing their livelihoods and current methods of farming that they have been practicing for their entire lives also raises the ethical questions on the mass acceptance of this crop.
Golden Rice in India
- In 2016, the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee said that IARI has developed a genetically-modified golden rice enriched with pro-vitamin A along with other such crops.
- In Bihar, a project called Development of Golden Rice is pushing golden rice for various agro-ecological zones. The Rajendra Agricultural University was given financial support o under the national agriculture development programme (Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana).
- Two ICAR research bodies, Indian Agricultural Research and National Plant Genomics Centre, were commissioned the research to develop a hybrid before the rice trait could be introduced in India - by cross breeding it with a local rice variety ‘Swarna’.
- The resulting plants were dwarf with pale green leaves and drastically reduced panicle size, grain number and yield as compared to the recurrent parent, Swarna.
International Rice Research Institute(IRRI)
- Rice feeds half the world daily. In many countries, rice provides more than 60%, perhaps 80%, of calories daily. Vitamin A deficiency is widespread, and is particularly severe in those countries where rice is the staple food.
- For these reasons, the leadership of the project to encourage and facilitate local adoption of Golden Rice has to pass from global to local. And local must include national level, and local government and village level organisation, and family organisation.
- Recently, the Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying released the 20th Livestock Census report.
- It was carried out in about 6.6 lakhs villages and 89 thousand urban wards across the country covering more than 27 Crores of Households and NonHouseholds
- The Livestock Census has been conducted in the country periodically since 1919-20.
- So far 19 such censuses have been conducted in participation with State Governments and UT Administrations.
- The 20th Livestock Census was launched in October, 2018. The enumeration was done in both rural and urban areas.
- For the first time, livestock data were collected on line in 20th Livestock Census.
- Another important feature of 20th Livestock Census is it has been designed to capture Breed-wise number of animals and poultry birds.
- The breeds of various major species including Poultry as registered by National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources(NBAGR) will be covered in the Livestock Census.
- The total Livestock population is 78 million in the country showing an increase of 4.6% over Livestock Census-2012.
- Total Bovine population (Cattle, Buffalo, Mithun and Yak) is 302.79 Million in 2019 which shows an increase of about 1% over the previous census.
- The total number of cattle in the country in 2019 is 192.49 million showing an increase of 0.8 % over previous Census.
- However, the number of indigenous cattle has gone down from 2012 to 2019. The number of milch animals has gone up by 6 percent.
- The total buffaloes in the country is 109.85 million showing an increase of about 1.0% over previous Census.
- The total sheep in the country is 74.26 million in 2019, increased by 14.1% over previous Census.
- The Goat population in the country in 2019 is 148.88 million showing an increase of 10.1% over the previous census.
- It shows a sharp increase in backyard poultry.
- Among the States, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of livestock of 67.8 million (68.7 million in 2012), followed by Rajasthan 8 million (57.7 million), Madhya Pradesh: 40.6 million (36.3 million) and West Bengal: 37.4 million (30.3 million).
- Unfortunately, in Uttar Pradesh, the number of cattle is down from 19.6 million in 2012 to 18.8 million (down 3.93 percent).
- Apart from Uttar Pradesh, the cattle count is down in Madhya Pradesh (by 4.42 percent), Maharashtra (10.07 percent) and Odisha (01 percent ).
- West Bengal has seen a rise in cattle population by 15.18 per cent, Bihar by 25.18 per cent, and Jharkhand by 28.16 per cent between 2012 and 2019.
Government Schemes for LivestocksRashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog (RKA)
Significance of Report
Help in Conservation of Indigenous Breed:
- The initiatives on collection of breed-wise reliable information of various species will give vital information for determination of threatened indigenous breeds and to take initiatives accordingly for their conservation.
- It will be helpful for framing policies or programmes for Breed improvement.Breed-wise information of livestock and poultry.
Fulfiling Digital India Objective:
- The major thrust of 20th Livestock Census would be data collection through tablets computers which is aimed to fulfil the objective of Digital India Programme.
Wide Range of Beneficiaries:
- The Census will prove beneficial not just for policy makers but also for agriculturists, traders, entrepreneurs, dairying industry and masses in general.
- Indian livestock sector makes up for a significant amount of world's livestock resources. Both the national economy as well as the socio-economic growth of the country is backed by the livestock sector. Besides, offering great potential and outstanding contribution in the agricultural sector over the past years.
- Rapid growth and transformation in the livestock sector offer both challenges and opportunities for smallholders and require a difficult balancing act by policy-makers.
- Growth in the livestock sector offers significant opportunities to enhance food security and reduce poverty, but concerted gender-sensitive action is required to help those smallholders who can compete to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.
- A mix of policy change, technological and institutional innovation and investment is needed. Building locally specific capacity that can respond to change is especially important.
- Propelling livestock production into 'mission mode' is one of the keys for the present government as it will help in achieving the ambitious target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024.
- On 3rd July, 2019, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare signed a Statement of Intent (SoI) for undertaking a pilot study with IBM India.
- It will be launched in the three districts of Bhopal, Rajkot and Nanded in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra respectively.
- As part of the collaboration, IBM’s Watson Decision Platform (WDM) for Agriculture will be leveraged to obtain farm level weather forecast and village level soil moisture in three districts.
Actions Sought under SoI:
- WDM will give solution in the field of agriculture through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and weather technology at village level/ farm level.
- It will provide information on weather forecast and soil moisture on pro bono basis to aid farmers in taking decisions regarding water and crop management for finer production and productivity.
Benefits of AI in Agriculture
Soil Health Monitoring and Restoration
Crop Health Monitoring and Providing Real Time Action Advisories to Farmers
Increasing Efficiency of Farm Mechanization
Increasing the Share of Price Realisation to Producers
Helps in Determining the Best Crop Choice
Automated Irrigation and Water Management
Challenges for AI in India:
Lack of Expertise:
- Owing to the age-old inept curricula adhered in most of the educational institutes in India, there’s a deficiency of appropriate talent to raise and deploy AI systems at scale.
Low Awareness of AI
- Low awareness of AI for resolving business problems in most public enterprises and government agencies, especially given the scarcity of AI professionals, is obstructing adoption. Most of the public enterprises and government agencies find the technology unreliable and, hence, refrain from adopting it for their businesses.
Lack of Adequate Computing Infrastructure
- Unreasonable price and little availability of computer infrastructure have made the development and deployment of AI systems difficult. For example, although swiftly growing, the cloud infrastructure in India not as capable as that followed by developed countries.
- Lack of infrastructure0 has led to many Indian AI startups to incorporate their business outside the country, which makes AI outside the reach of Indian researchers in government labs and many industries.
Concentration of Power
- It is difficult for new entrants to deliver tailor made services that can compete with data rich incumbents such as Facebook or Google. This phenomenon results in the creation of a virtuous cycle which reinforces the hegemony of the big few, creating a huge entry barrier for startups.
Impact of the Decision:
- Ensuring Better Productivity: It will help the farmers to take decisions regarding water and crop management for better production and productivity.
- Boosting Farmer’s Income: It will help in fulfilling government's assurance to bring digital technologies in helping the farmers to increase their income and transform Indian agriculture.