Efficient agricultural policies are essential to meet the increasing demand for safe and nutritious food sustainably. While growing demand for food, feed, fuel, and fiber presents significant opportunities for agriculture, government policies must address challenges such as increasing productivity growth, enhance in environmental sustainability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improve adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change and other unforeseen shocks.
Government support for agriculture has risen in recent years in response to global crises, and only a small amount has been directed at longer-term goals, such as climate change and other food systems challenges. The OECD Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation report monitors these efforts and provides governments with policy solutions.
Read Pritish Kumar Halder’s article in which he discussed Agriculture Policies and Production.
Support for agriculture
Public support for agriculture has reached record levels as governments enacted measures to shield both consumers and producers from the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises. Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2022 shows that the 54 countries monitored provided on average USD 817 billion of support to agriculture annually over the 2019-21 period, a 13% increase from 2018-20.
CGE models are developed to measure the effects of policies on welfare at country and region levels . The CGE models are a useful tool for quantifying the impact of policy shocks on aggregate social welfare. The agent behaviors determine demand and supply functions in the economy: producers want to maximize profits and consumers want to maximize utility subject to their budget constraints, agricultural technologies, migrant remittances, and time constraints.
National Agriculture Policy
The first ever National Agriculture Policy was announced in July 2000. The Policy seeks to actualize the vast untapped potential of Indian agriculture and aims at achieving a growth rate of over 4 percent per annum in the agriculture sector. It also seeks to achieve growth with equity, i.e., growth, which is widespread across regions and farmers. It also emphasizes the need to cater to domestic markets and maximize benefits from exports of agricultural products. Various measures have been taken to operationalize the policy. In pursuance of the policy, national policies on sectors like cooperation, seeds, and extension have been framed.
Production of food grains
The overall food grains production of 212.02 million tones during the year 2001-02 was a record. This was made possible by various factors, including steps taken to ensure the availability of vital inputs to farmers.
This represents a major shift from the programmatic to the Macro Management mode of planning and implementation to operationalize regionally differentiated strategies and ensure that limited financial allocations find timely and effective application in the intended areas. State-wise work plans are formulated in an interactive mode. Twenty-seven ongoing Centrally sponsored schemes have been integrated and the funds available under them have been consolidated to assist the States in the implementation of the work plans. During the current financial year, an amount of Rs.700 crore has been provided under the scheme.
Farm Water Management
With its abundant water resources and favorable soil structure, Eastern India has the potential to substantially increase the productivity of different crops. However, the full potential was not realized due to the lack of any major scheme for utilizing the groundwater in this region. A new scheme “On Farm Water Management, for Increasing Crop Production in Eastern India”, has been launched in 171 districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Mizoram, and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Technology Mission on cotton was launched in 2000. It has separate Mini-Missions on production technology, production programs, market intervention, and modernization of ginning and pressing units. The aim is to meet the growing demand for cotton for domestic and export purposes. For more information please visit Pritish Kumar Halder
A Technology Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture in the North Eastern States including Sikkim was launched during 2001-02 with an outlay of Rs.239 crore. The Scheme seeks to address all issues relating to the development of horticulture in the region covering research, development, and marketing. The mission has been extended to Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Jammu, and Kashmir.
A Central Sector Scheme on Technology Mission for Coconut was launched for implementation during 2001-02. The Mission seeks to address issues like technology development, demonstration, processing, product diversification, market research, and promotion.
Grameen Bhandaran Yojana
A scheme of construction, renovation, and expansion of rural god-owns, called Grameen Bhandaran Yojana, was launched during 2001-02. The scheme will immensely benefit farmers, especially the small and marginal ones, and improve the marketing infrastructure in rural areas.
The policy, announced in March 2002, seeks to facilitate all-round development of co-operatives in the country. Under it, cooperatives would be provided necessary support, encouragement, and assistance to enable them to work as autonomous, self-reliant, and democratically managed institutions.
Multi-State Co-operative Societies
The Central Government has enacted a new Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002 to provide full functional autonomy and democratic management to co-operative societies. It removes the restrictive provisions of the earlier version, enacted in 1984.
Farmers now will have to pay a maximum interest rate of 9 percent on bank loans up to Rs.50,000 for each crop. Earlier, they had to pay a rate of 14 to 18 percent. Emphasis has been laid on progressive institutionalization for providing timely and adequate credit to farmers for increasing agricultural production and productivity. From Rs. 46,268 crores in 1999-2000, the flow of institutional credit to the agriculture sector is estimated to have increased to about Rs 75,000 crore in 2002-03. More than three crore Kisan Credit Cards have been issued since 1999-2000. A personal insurance package, to cover the Kisan Credit Card holders against accidental death and permanent disability up to a maximum of Rs.50,000 and Rs.25,000, respectively, was operationalized during 2001-02.
The Government has announced a Rs 50,000 crore program for mitigating the difficulties, being faced by the agricultural sector. The program, to be spread over three years, will address issues like agri-infrastructural facilities, wasteland development, minor irrigation, functioning and viability of cooperatives, grading, certification, storage of agro-products, their processing, cold chains, and modern abattoirs. Under the program, to be operated by the NABARD, loans will be made available to borrowers at low competitive rates.
A pilot project of the Farm Income Insurance Program has been launched during the 2003-04 Rabi season. It covers the two critical components of the farmer’s income, namely yield, and price through a single policy instrument. The minimum guaranteed income is determined by using the average yield for the last seven years and the minimum support price.
The National Agricultural Insurance Scheme launched from Rabi 1999-2000 aims at protecting the farmers against crop losses suffered on account of natural calamities such as drought, flood, hailstorm, cyclones, pests, and diseases. The Scheme is currently implemented by 22 States and 2 UTs.
The Seed Crop Insurance Scheme was introduced with effect from the Rabi season 1999-2000 and is currently being implemented in Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, and Gujarat.
Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001
The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 provides for the establishment of an effective system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders, and encouraging the development of new varieties of plants. The plant varieties will be registered for plant breeder rights, based on the criteria of distinctness, uniformity, and stability.
National Seeds Policy
The main features of the National Seeds Policy, 2002 include the development of new and improved varieties of plants, timely availability of quality seeds, compulsory registration of seeds, creation of infrastructure facilities, quality assurance, promotion of the seed industry, abolition of licensing for seed dealers, facility for import of best quality seeds, encouragement for export of seeds and creation of Seed Banks and National Seed Grid. The initiatives will encourage investment in research and development.