Current News - Indian Economy - Agriculture & Allied Sector
On 19th September, 2023, India’s Finance Minister and Agriculture Minister launched the 'Kisan Rin Portal'. This portal aims to provide subsidized loans to farmers under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme, bringing a revolutionary change to the country's agriculture sector.
- Purpose of Kisan Rin Portal: The Kisan Rin digital platform offers comprehensive insights into farmer data, scheme utilization progress, loan disbursement details, and interest subvention claims.
- The goal is to enhance integration with banks for more efficient agricultural credit.
- Government Disbursement: According to official data, the Indian government disbursed agricultural credit of around Rs 6,573 crore at a subsidized interest rate during April-August in the current fiscal year.
- Door-to-Door Campaign: The door-to-door campaign aims to extend KCC benefits to non-KCC holders who are beneficiaries of the central scheme PM-KISAN.
- Under this scheme, the government provides Rs 600 annually to beneficiaries' bank accounts.
- Enhancing WINDS Initiative: The Ministry intends to enhance the impact of the Weather Network Data Systems (WINDS) initiative.
- Launched in July, WINDS uses advanced weather data analytics to provide stakeholders with actionable insights for informed decisions in agriculture.
- The portal offers comprehensive guidance to stakeholders for better understanding of its functionalities and data interpretation.
- It empowers farmers, policymakers, and agricultural entities to make well-informed decisions.
- The portal also shares information about the ministry's parametric crop insurance scheme and non-scheme parametric insurance programs for crop risk mitigation and disaster risk reduction.
On 15th September, 2023, the Matsya Sampada Jagrukta Abhiyan program was launched, marking the completion of three successful years of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojna (PMMSY).
- Objectives of the Campaign: Matsya Sampada Jagrukta Abhiyan aims to enhance outreach across India and ensure 'last-mile connectivity.'
- The campaign will run for six months from September 2023 to February 2024, featuring 108 events.
- It focuses on disseminating information and knowledge about the achievements of the Government of India over nine years, highlighting beneficiary success stories, and reaching 2.8 crore fish farmers and 3477 coastal villages.
- Background: Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) is the flagship scheme of the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Government of India, launched on September 10, 2020, to promote the fisheries sector's growth.
- PMMSY consolidates efforts from various schemes and initiatives to boost India's fisheries sector, contributing to income generation, employment, and technology infusion.
On 15th September, 2023, India introduced the Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics (UPAg), an innovative online platform developed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DA & FW), marking a significant milestone in agricultural data management.
- Reduced Search Costs: The UPAg Portal is envisioned as a public good, reducing search costs and enhancing access to reliable, detailed, and unbiased agricultural data.
- Crop Estimates and Integration: The platform is designed to generate crop estimates and integrate with other systems that produce agriculture statistics, including price, trade, procurement, and stock data, according to an official statement.
- Tackling Data Challenges: The Agriculture Ministry stated that the UPAg portal would address various challenges such as the absence of standardized data, unverified data, and scattered data.
- Facilitating Data-Driven Decisions: The Agriculture Ministry stated that the UPAg initiative aims to offer real-time, standardized, and verified agricultural commodity data, enabling data-driven decision-making for policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders.
On September 11th and 12th, 2023, the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Government of India, along with the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) conducted a multi-sectoral workshop titled "Risk-based management of spill over events in wildlife in India" in Hyderabad.
- Key Objectives of the Workshop: The workshop focused on four primary objectives:
- Enhancing stakeholder knowledge about wildlife-origin disease risk analysis.
- Conducting a comprehensive gap analysis of India's risk assessment and management.
- Simulating disease spillover scenarios.
- Fostering communication and awareness among relevant stakeholders.
- Importance of Cross-Sectoral Collaboration: The workshop's conclusion emphasized the significance of adopting a One Health approach and promoting cross-sectoral collaboration for effective pandemic preparedness.
- Global Collaboration for Pandemic Mitigation: The joint efforts of WOAH and the Government of India in this workshop demonstrate their commitment to building a safer, healthier, and more sustainable world in a context where the health of wildlife, domestic animals, and humans is interlinked.
On 12th September, 2023, the President of India officially opened the inaugural Global Symposium on Farmers' Rights in New Delhi.
- Symposium Organizers: The symposium is organized by the Secretariat of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (International Treaty), under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.
- India's Biodiversity: India, despite occupying only 2.4 percent of the world's land area, is home to 7-8 percent of recorded plant and animal species globally.
- It boasts a vast agro-biodiversity, which has been a valuable resource for the global community.
- Indian farmers have preserved local plant varieties, domesticated wild plants, and nurtured traditional varieties that have served as the foundation for crop breeding programs, ensuring food and nutritional security.
- Significance of Farmers: The President acknowledged farmers as the foremost conservers of crop diversity, emphasizing their vital role in protecting and reviving various plant and species varieties essential to humanity.
On 26th August, the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation unveiled the findings of the 6th census on minor irrigation schemes.
- Scheme Distribution: The country reports a total of 23.14 million minor irrigation (MI) schemes, with 94.8% being Ground Water (GW) schemes and 5.2% Surface Water (SW) schemes.
- Groundwater and Surface Water Breakdown: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana lead in Groundwater schemes, while Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha, and Jharkhand excel in Surface Water schemes.
- Scheme Types: GW schemes include dugwells, shallow tube wells, medium tube wells, and deep tube wells, while SW schemes comprise surface flow and surface lift schemes.
- Increase in MI Schemes: The 6th census shows a rise of about 1.42 million MI schemes compared to the previous census.
- National Growth: GW schemes increased by 6.9%, and SW schemes increased by 1.2% nationally.
- Dominant Scheme Types: Dug-wells lead, followed by shallow tube-wells, medium tube-wells, and deep tube-wells.
- Ownership and Usage: 97.0% of MI schemes are 'in use', 2.1% are 'temporarily not in use', and 0.9% are 'permanently not in use'.
- Ownership Pattern: 96.6% of MI schemes are privately owned, with a higher share in GW schemes (98.3%) than SW schemes (64.2%).
- Inclusion of Gender Data: For individually owned schemes, 18.1% are owned by women.
- Finance Sources: Around 60.2% of schemes have a single source of finance, while 39.8% have multiple sources.
- Single Source of Finance: Majority (79.5%) of schemes with a single source are financed by individual farmers' savings.
Under the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Union Government launched the 'A-HELP' (Accredited Agent for Health and Extension of Livestock Production) initiative and an Infertility Camp in Gujarat, with a focus on empowering women and enhancing livestock productivity.
- Empowering Women and Livestock: The 'A-HELP' programme and Infertility Camp are poised to empower women, boost livestock productivity, and drive socio-economic progress.
- Women as Agents of Change The 'A-HELP' programme engages women as trained agents to contribute to disease control, Rashtriya Gokul Mission (RGM) through artificial insemination, animal tagging, and livestock insurance.
- Pashudhan Jagrati Abhiyaan: Aligned with the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Pashudhan Jagrati Abhiyaan emphasizes equipping farmers with knowledge and resources for livestock health, disease management, and animal infertility.
- Workshops and Awareness Camps: State Veterinary Universities and Animal Husbandry Departments collaborate to conduct workshops and awareness camps.
- Enhancing Livestock Well-being: The initiative provides essential nutritional supplements, mineral mixtures, dewormers, and medicines through collaboration with Indian Immunological Ltd.
- Training Sessions: Practical training sessions for students aim to enhance scientific livestock management techniques, benefiting rural communities.
- Socio-economic Impact and Department Vision: These efforts are expected to elevate rural communities' socio-economic prospects, reinforcing India's global livestock market presence.
On 3rd August, a groundbreaking advancement in agricultural technology, the IoT-based automated soil testing and agronomy advisory platform, Bhu-Vision (also known as KRISHI-RASTAA Soil Testing System), was officially introduced at ICAR-IIRR, Hyderabad.
- Collaborative Effort: The technology, jointly developed by ICAR-IIRR and KrishiTantra, was manufactured by HiMedia Laboratories and marketed by BhoomiSeva (HCF Tech Services Pvt. Ltd.).
- Efficient Testing: Bhu-Vision conducts 12 key soil parameter tests in just 30 minutes, providing quick and accurate results to farmers and stakeholders through mobile-based soil health cards.
- Symbolic Handover: The launch featured the symbolic handover of 25 Bhu-Vision devices to ICAR-IIRR, demonstrating the partnership between technology providers and the institute.
- Promising Future: The launch of Bhu-Vision marks a promising future for agricultural technology, contributing to the nation's soil health map and enhancing understanding of the agricultural landscape.
On 27th July, 2023, India’s Prime Minister introduced "Urea Gold," a new variety of urea coated with sulphur, during an event in Rajasthan's Sikar, along with several other initiatives to support farmers in the state.
- Urea Gold: Addressing Sulphur Deficiencies: Urea Gold is a novel type of urea that comes coated with sulphur, designed to tackle sulphur deficiencies in the soil.
- It is hailed as an "innovative fertiliser," offering improved nitrogen use efficiency, reduced consumption, and enhanced crop quality compared to neem-coated urea.
- Economical and Efficient: The slow-release mechanism of nitrogen due to sulphur coating provides plants with sustained nutrients.
- The fertiliser's composition ensures less urea usage, while offering more nourishment to boost crop yield.
- Added Humic Acid for Enhanced Longevity: Urea Gold incorporates added humic acid, further extending its effectiveness.
- It is estimated that 15 kg of Urea Gold provides benefits equivalent to 20 kg of conventional urea, making it an efficient substitute for urea consumption.
- Other Pro-Farmer Projects Launched: In addition to Urea Gold, Prime Minister also launched the 14th Instalment of PM KISAN Scheme and inaugurated various projects in the state.
- He introduced the onboarding of 1500 Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) on Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).
- Dedication of PM Kisan Samriddhi Kendras (PMKSKs): During the event, PM dedicated 1.25 lakh PM Kisan Samriddhi Kendras (PMKSKs) to the nation. T
- These centres aim to provide comprehensive support to farmers, offering information on agricultural inputs, testing facilities for soil, seeds, and fertilisers, as well as details about various government schemes.
The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has launched the BHARAT (Banks Heralding Accelerated Rural & Agriculture Transformation) campaign. This campaign is part of the Agri Infra Fund (AIF) and aims to raise Rs 7200 crore to support agricultural and rural development initiatives.
- Duration and Operational Period: The BHARAT campaign will run for one month, starting from July 15, 2023, to August 15, 2023.
- Purpose of the AIF: The Agri Infra Fund (AIF) was introduced in July 2020 to offer comprehensive financial assistance to farmers, agri-entrepreneurs, FPOs (Farmer Producer Organizations), PACS (Primary Agricultural Credit Societies), Cooperatives, and SHGs (Self-Help Groups).
- The fund's focus is on creating post-harvest management infrastructure and developing community farming assets across the nation.
- Funds: A total of 1 Lakh Crore will be provided by banks and financial institutions as loans under the AIF, with an interest subvention of 3% per annum.
- Credit Available: The Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme will offer credit guarantee support for loans up to Rs 2 crore.
- Supervision: The AIF's functioning will be managed and monitored through an online Management Information System (MIS) platform. To ensure effective monitoring and feedback, National, State, and District level monitoring committees will be established.
- Tenure of AIF operations: The AIF's operational period spans from FY2020 to FY2029 (10 years).