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Agriculture

10 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 2018

    4. Examine the role of supermarkets in supply chain management of fruits, vegetables, and food items. How do they eliminate number of intermediaries? (2018)

    India is one of the leading producers of vegetables, fresh fruits and a number of food items. Marketing of fruits and vegetables especially is more challenging than many industrial products because of their perishability, seasonality and bulkiness. A supermarket is a self-service shop offering a wide variety of food and household products.

    The roles of supermarkets in supply chain management are as follows:

    • Transportation: The perishability of fruits, vegetables and other food items require swift transportation facility so that their freshness remain intact. Supermarkets are equipped with such swift transportation facilities.
    • Better Storage Facilities: The better refrigeration facilities provided by supermarkets increases the shelf-life of these products so that consumers can purchase them fresh.
    • Price Discovery: Most of the supermarkets purchase these products directly from the farmers, helping in the better discovery of prices for them.

    In this way, supermarkets help in elimination of intermediaries such as agents and auctioneers. Normally in traditional markets, these agents and auctioneers purchase produce from the farmers and sell it to the wholesalers from where the produce goes to the retailers and then to consumers. The supermarkets eliminate this entire chain, as they procure directly from farmers and sell directly to the consumers. Reliance Fresh and Reliance trends, Foodworld, and Easyday an example of supermarket in India.

  • 2017

    4. Explain various types of revolutions, took place in Agriculture after Independence in India. How these revolutions have helped in poverty alleviation and food security in India? (2017)

    India is primarily an agricultural economy and majority of people are still dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. After independence, development of agriculture has been assured by various revolutions supported by government.

    Green Revolution – This revolution led to tremendous rise in production of food grains, especially wheat, by use of high-yielding varieties of seeds, fertilizers and pesticide.

    White Revolution – Operation Flood (1970), an initiative of National Dairy Development Board has led to revolution in milk production in India. The world’s largest dairy development programme transformed India from a milk deficient nation to world’s largest milk producer.

    Blue Revolution – This revolution focussed on management of fisheries sector and has led to phenomenal increase in both fish production and productivity from aquaculture and fisheries resources of the inland and marine fisheries.

    Other revolutions which are no less significant includes yellow revolution(oil seed production), golden fibre revolution (jute), golden revolution (horticulture), silver fibre revolution (Cotton) and red revolution (meat production).

    Significance of these revolutions

    • These innovations in agriculture have lifted millions of people out of poverty by generating rural income opportunities for farmers, farm labourers, and also reduced prices for consumers. India has become self sufficient in food grain production with the help of green revolution.
    • The exponential rise in milk production has led to nutritional security among the masses. Per capita availability of milk has reached all time high of 337gms/day.
    • These steps have provided avenues for income diversification for farmers.

    To further carry on the momentum of these programmes and assure food security in long run in face of ever increasing population, there is an urgent need for an ‘evergreen revolution’ that should focus on all round development of the agriculture sector.       

  • 2016

    7. What is water-use efficiency? Describe the role of micro-irrigation in increasing the water-use efficiency. (2016)

    Water-use efficiency refers to the ratio of water used in plant metabolism to water lost by the plant through transpiration. Water use efficiency is also about careful management of water supply sources, use of water serving technologies, reduction of excessive demand and other actions.

    In context of Indian agriculture, recognizing the fast declining irrigation water potential and increasing demand for water from different sectors, a number of demand management strategies and programmes have been introduced.

    One such method is micro-irrigation that includes drip irrigation and sprinkler irrigation.

    Under micro-irrigation, unlike flood method of irrigation, water is supplied at a required interval and quantity using pipe network, emitters and nozzles.

    The on-farm irrigation efficiency of properly designed and managed drip irrigation system is estimated to be about 90 percent, while the same is only about 35 to 40 percent for surface method of irrigation.

    While increasing the productivity of crops significantly, it also reduces weed problems, soil erosion and cost of cultivation substantially.

    The reduction in water consumption in micro irrigation also reduces the energy use that is required to lift water from irrigation wells.

    Drip-irrigation technique can replace the hand watering system in hilly areas with minimum water losses and labour.

    Government of India has also accorded high priority to water conservation and its management. Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) has been formulated with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet Ko Pani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in focused manner using sprinker & drip method of irrigation.

  • 2016

    8. What is allelopathy? Discuss its role in major cropping systems of irrigated agriculture. (2016)

    Allelopathy is a biological phenomenon in which plants release chemical poisons to destroy neighbouring plants in their bid for more space and sunlight. The poison released are deadly, they change the very genetic structure of the victim plants preventing its growth and ultimately leading to its death.

    • In sustainable wild management: Allelopathic applications such as Straw mulching provide sustainable weed management. It also helps in reducing negative impact of environment on agriculture. Straw mulch can improve the organic matter in the soil and increase its fertility. Allelo chemicals are called ‘Natural herbicides’.
    • In reduction of Nitrogen leaching and Environment pollution: Nitrogen leaching is a severe ecological problem due to water pollution. In recent years studies have proven that Nitrification Inhibiting Substance (NIS) produced by plants can reduce the emission of N2O, improve the utilization rate of nitrogen fertilizer and reduce pollution to the environment.
    • Plant-animal/insect interactions: Allelo chemicals may variously act as feeding attractants or repellents, have hormonal effects on the insects or provide the insects with a useful defense mechanism against predation.
    • Many border plants are used in this manner around fields and gardens to keep undesired animals away.

    Studies on allelopathy in crops and weeds have been developed in the past few decades and the use of allelopathic crops in crop rotation, cover crops, green manure, inter cropping etc has become a reality.

  • 2016

    9. Discuss the role of land reforms in agricultural development identify the factors that were responsible for the success of land reforms in India. (2016)

    India at independence inherited a semi feudal agrarian system. The ownership and control of land was highly concentrated in the hands of a small group of landlords and intermediaries, whose main intention was to extract maximum rent, either in cash or in kind, from tenants. This was one of major hindrance in the development of agriculture. Land reform involves the changing of laws, regulators or customs regarding land ownership, plays a great role. Its main objectives included:

    • Weakening the domination of landlords and providing security of tenure to share croppers and land to landless and poor peasants.
    • Simulating the growth of productivity and output in agriculture by eliminating feudal and semi-feudal land relations.
    • Expanding rural markets by means of a significant redistribution of productive assets, especially land, and by adequate public investment in the agrarian economy.

    In the success of land reforms in India, following factor were responsible.

    1. Political will: Land reforms were more successful in some states such as West Bengal, Kerala because of strong political will of the government. Provisions of land reforms were implemented actively.
    2. The pro-poor impact of land reforms was enhanced by the emergence of the system of decentralized local government put in place by the Left Front in 1978 (West Bengal) soon after coming to office.
    3. The role of individuals associated with Indian Independence movement such as Shri Vinoba Bhave.
    4. Absolution of Zamidari was initiated just after the independence of India by the Union government which streamlined the process of land reforms.

    Though the process of land reforms were not as successful as it was intended to because to inactive participation of landlords except some states like West Bengal and Kerala. According to some scholars land reforms also increased the gap between rich and poor.

  • 2016

    10. Given the vulnerability of Indian agriculture to vagaries of nature, discuss the need for crop insurance and bring out the salient features of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). (2016)

    Every year, in one part of India or the other food crops are affected by natural calamities (like flood, drought and plant diseases). The farmers have to be assured that they will be compensated for such loss in crops. Otherwise, they cannot be drawn into the campaign to increase productivity of land under their plough.

    The need for crop insurance arises for the following reasons

    • In our country nature has always been moody. Crop insurance provides protection to farmers against losses caused by crop failure and thereby ensures stability in farm income.
    • It also reduces, to some extent, government expenditure incurred on relief measures extended to meet the havoc caused by natural calamities such as droughts and floods, locusts, plant diseases.
    • It also strengthens the position of co-operatives and other institutions that finance, agriculture to the extent it enables the farmer members to repay their loans in years of crop failure.
    • By protecting the economic interest of the farmers against possible risk or loss, it accelerates adoption of new agricultural practices.
    • It may act as anti-inflationary measure, by locking up part of the resources in rural areas.

    The government launched a new crop insurance scheme, PM’s Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) with a view to de-risk agriculture from the vagaries of nature. Salient features of PMFBY are following.

    • PMFBY targets to cover 50% India’s cropped area in the next three years. There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops.
    • In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, the premium to be paid by farmers will be only 5%.
    • There is no upper limit on Government subsidy. Even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the Government.
    • The new scheme will also seek to address a long-standing demand of farmers and provide farm-level assessment for localized calamities, including hailstorms, unseasonal rains, landslides and inundation.

  • 2018

    13. Assess the role of National Horticulture Mission (NHM) in boosting the production, productivity and income of horticulture farms. How far has it succeeded in increasing the income of farmers? (2018)

    National Horticulture Mission (NHM) is an Indian Government scheme promoted with the objective to develop horticulture to the maximum potential available in the states and to augment production of all horticultural products. This scheme was launched under 10th five year plan in 2005-06. Under this scheme centre government contributes 85%, and 15% is contributed by the state government.

    The role of NHM in boosting the production, productivity and income of horticultural farms can be assessed as:

    • It provides holistic growth of the horticulture sector through an area based regionally differentiated strategies due to which more than 9 crore metric tons of fruits on 63 lakh hectare land were produced during 2015-16.
    • Horticulture farms are much smaller and horticulture crops have high return on investment which allows marginal farmers to increase their income using small lands.
    • Farmers can plant multiple crops on their land which provide multiple earning resources.
    • Regions experiencing low rainfall and prone to drought are getting benefit from the option of horticulture which requires less water and is less susceptible to crop failure. For example, Bagepalli, a drought prone area in Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border is now emerging as a horticulture hot spot.
    • Horticulture crops have short turnaround time than food crops which helps in efficient land utilization, increased production and productivity, and also increases income of farmers.

    After the launch of the NHM, significant progress has been made in area expansion under horticulture crops, resulting in higher production and increase in income. Over the last decade, the area under horticulture grew at an average rate of 2.7% per annum and annual production increases at an average rate of 7.0% per annum. In Bagepalli, for example, the annual turnover was Rs 6 lakh in 2016. But it has been Rs 10 lakh a month in 2018, as farmers swiftly shifted to horticulture crops.

    This form of cultivation is gathering steam across the country, even as the Centre aims to double farmer incomes by 2022. But still challenges like inadequate cold storage infrastructure, limited availability of market, limited support from government and high price fluctuation are needed to be catered to achieve the aim of doubling farmers’ income by 2022.

  • 2018

    14. How has the emphasis on certain crops brought about changes in cropping patterns in recent past? Elaborate the emphasis on millets production and consumption. (2018)

    Cropping pattern is the proportion of area under various crops at a point of time. The cropping patterns of a region are mainly influenced by the geo-climatic, socio-economic, historical and political factors.

    In the recent past, a lot of changes have occurred in the cropping pattern in India:

    • There has been a shift towards rice-wheat cropping pattern since the 'Green Revolution' of the 1960s.
    • Paddy, cotton, soybean, and sugarcane cover more than half of total sown area taking over the area traditionally devoted to millets, oilseeds and pulses which were more suited to the local climatic and soil conditions.
    • The gain in the wheat production has come at the cost of millets and sorghum as wheat has been considered superior over them.
    • As India is one of the largest consumer and importer of pulses and oilseeds, the government has tried to increase their acreage and productivity. Higher MSPs has been announced for these crops recently.

    Crop patterns in India are changing without consideration for local agro-climatic conditions. This has put a burden on environment, incurring huge long-term losses. Soil fertility has declined while groundwater has receded. Chemical pollution and changing food habits impacting human health are the direct manifestations of this change in crop patterns.

    Millets

    • Production: Millets grow well in dry zones as rain-fed crops, under marginal conditions of soil fertility and moisture and are stable yielders. About 30 million acres in India fall under millets. Millets are grown in about 21 States and major impetus is being given on its production in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Telangana, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. Millets are the super foods for the present and future; their short growing season (65 days) makes them commercially sound.
    • Consumption: With lifestyle diseases running rampant, millets have returned as a viable option to live healthy life. Various States have been distributing millets such as bajra, jowar and ragi through the PDS.

    There is an unmet demand for rice and wheat which is met by millets. If consumers see millets as a solution to lifestyle disorders, producers have realised that it requires less inputs and is an economically viable option if marketing avenues are created.

  • 2017

    14. What are the major reasons for declining rice and wheat yield in the cropping system? How crop diversification is helpful to stabilize the yield of the crops in the system? (2017)

    Rice-wheat cropping system is labour, water, capital and energy-intensive, and becomes less profitable as availability of these resources diminishes. The problem is further exacerbated by dynamics of climate change. The relevant factors for decline in yield are discussed below - 

    • Decline in Soil fertility: Due to continuous irrigation and use of excessive flood irrigation, soil in rice-wheat cropping system has become saline. It has resulted into decrease in crop yield.
    • Climate change: According to studies, climate change has a negative effect on major crops such as wheat, rice and maize. Increase in annual temperature range has also affected the crop yield of rice and wheat.
    • Increased input cost: High rate of infestation with weeds and pests along with contamination of ground water have resulted into high cost of input for cultivation of rice and wheat.
    • Change in water availability: Due to excessive use of ground water and consequent depletion of ground water resources, water availability has declined. This has resulted in decline in crop yield.

    Therefore, it is imperative to focus on alternate crops. Crop diversification refers to a shift from the regional dominance of one crop to production of a number of crops. Crop diversification helps in:

    • Maintaining soil fertility: Only those crops are grown in a particular region which are suitable to particular agro climate zone and it helps in maintaining soil fertility because excessive use of nutrients, irrigation is not required.
    • To arrest depletion of ground water: It will help in diversifying cropping patterns from water guzzling crops such as paddy to pulses, oilseeds, maize with the aim of tackling the problem of depleting water table.
    • Diversification can also provide habitat for beneficial insects and at the same time reduce colonization by pest.

    The government of India has launched crop diversification scheme in the original green revolution areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. Under Crop Diversification Programme assistance is provided to states for conducting cluster demonstrations on alternate crops, promotion of water saving technologies, distribution of farm machinery, and awareness through training.

  • 2017

    15. How do subsidies affect the cropping pattern, crop diversity and economy of farmers? What is the significance of crop insurance, minimum support price and food processing for small and marginal farmers? (2017)

    Government subsidizes agricultural inputs in an attempt to keep farm costs low and production high.

    There are various subsidies available to farmers in terms of cheap input credit, seeds and fertilizers, subsidized electricity and irrigation etc. Agriculture subsidies always have some impact on various activities of agriculture.

    Cropping pattern: Crop selection gets distorted in favour of those crops which have high share of subsidies or attract large volume of subsidies. For example cheap electricity and irrigation subsidies motivated Punjab farmers to go for water guzzling crops like rice.

    Crop diversity: Crop diversity gives way to the standard staple crops where there is assured market and cost of production is low due to subsidies. For example wheat and rice are the standard crops in present times for Rabi and Kharif season respectively.

    Economy of farmers: Various subsidies ensure income support to farmers and safe stock of food grains. But at the same time it leads to distorted production patterns, resulting in food inflation.

    Significance of various factors on small and marginal farmers

    Crop insurance: It provides income security in case of crop failure due to natural and other reasons.  It also gives them cushion against their investment in agricultural activities.

    Minimum Support Price: Minimum prices ensure a minimum guaranteed income for the crops thereby hedging them from market fluctuations. Guarantee of a buyer while cultivation of crops gives a sense of financial security to the farmer.

    Though high MSP for certain produces such as wheat and rice drives farmers to take the "safe side" and thus shifts to cereal production rather than fruits, vegetables etc.

    Food processing: Through value addition it ensures not only better income but long shelf life for the agro products. For the country like India where the wastage is high and over 80% of farmers are small and marginal with limited capacity, their income base can be enhanced through food processing.

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