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Agriculture

21 Solved Questions with Answers
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 2020

    14. Suggest measures to improve water storage and irrigation system to make its judicious use under depleting scenario.

    A continuous wastage or misuse of potable groundwater either in industries, agriculture or households has left a large population of the country facing high water stress conditions today. High wastage of water coupled with burgeoning population in some manner ensures that sooner or later we will be facing scarcity of potable water in the country.

    Traditional methods to improve water storage and irrigation

    • Jhalaras: They are typically rectangular-shaped stepwells that have tiered steps on three or four sides. 
    • Talabs: These are reservoirs that store water for household consumption and drinking purposes. They may be natural, such as the pokhariya ponds. 
    • Bawaris: These are unique stepwells that were once a part of the ancient networks of water storage in the cities. The little rain that the region received would be diverted to this man-made tank through canals. 
    • Taanka: It is a traditional rainwater harvesting technique indigenous to the desert region.
    • Ahar Pynes: These are traditional floodwater harvesting systems indigenous to regions frequently prone to floods. 
    • Johads: These are one of the oldest systems used to conserve and recharge groundwater, which are small earthen check dams that capture and store rainwater. It is constructed in an area with naturally high elevation on three sides. 

    Modern methods to improve water storage and irrigation

    • Rainwater Overhead Tanks: These are the simple tanks placed over the building or on the terrace, collecting water as it comes.
    • Rooftop Rainwater Harvesting: A simple structure where the roof is used as a support for installing catchment pipes through which the rainwater flows and is eventually stored in ground level containers.
    • Percolation Tanks: The percolation tanks are mostly earthen dams with masonry structure only for spillway. The purpose of these tanks is to recharge the groundwater storage.

    Irrigation methods to ensure judicious use of water

    • Bamboo Drip Irrigation System: It is an indigenous system in northeast India. In this, the water from perennial springs is diverted to the terrace fields using varying sizes and shapes of bamboo pipes. The system ensures that small drops of water are delivered directly to the roots of the plants.
    • Irrigation Scheduling: It is basically smart water management. It deals with when, how often, and how much water needs to be provided to plants. To avoid overwatering of crops and avoid water wastage farmers carefully monitor the weather forecast, understand the soil condition, and use smart meters for water management.
    • Dryland Farming: The practice of cultivating crops without irrigation in regions of limited moisture.
    • Sprinkler Irrigation: It is a method of applying water to crops which is similar to natural rainfall but in a more judicious manner and spread uniformly over the land surface. It is done using a pump, pipes and nozzle to sprinkle water.

    Thus, we see that traditional methods when coupled with modern scientific approaches to conserve water can produce the intended results in the field of water conservation. Hence, the above-mentioned methods should be brought to use holistically to reduce water wastage and ensure availability of potable water to mankind for a longer period of time.

  • 2021

    14. What are the present challenges before crop diversification? How do emerging technologies provide an opportunity for crop diversification?

    Crop diversification refers to the addition of new crops or cropping systems to agricultural production on a particular farm taking into account the different returns from value-added crops with complementary marketing opportunities. The aim of crop diversification is to increase crop portfolio so that farmers are not dependent on a single crop to generate their income.

    Benefits:

    • At present, 70-80% farmers have land below 2 hectares. To overcome this, existing cropping patterns must be diversified with high value crops such as maize, pulses, etc.
    • Crop diversification can better tolerate the ups and downs in price of various farm products and it may ensure economic stability of farming products.
    • It refers to sudden adverse weather conditions like erratic rainfall, drought, hail, incidence of insect and pest disease. Under this situation, crop diversification through mixed cropping may be useful.
    • Most of the Indian population suffers from malnutrition. Crops like pulses, oilseed, horticulture and vegetables can improve socio-economic status by adding quality to the food basket and also improve soil health with the aim of food safety and nutritional security.
    • Adoption of crop diversification helps in conservation of natural resources like introduction of legume in rice-wheat cropping system which has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen to help sustain soil fertility.

    Challenges:

    • Majority of cropped area in the country is completely dependent on rainfall.
    • Sub-optimal and over-use of resources like land and water cause a negative impact on the environment and sustainability of agriculture.
    • Inadequate supply of seeds and plants of improved cultivars.
    • Fragmentation of land holding less favouring modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture.
    • Poor basic infrastructure like rural roads, power, transport, communications, etc.
    • Inadequate post-harvest technologies and inadequate infrastructure for post-harvest handling of perishable horticultural produce.
    • Very weak agro-based industry.
    • Weak research – extension – farmer linkages.
    • Inadequately trained human resources together with persistent and large-scale illiteracy among farmers.
    • Host of diseases and pests affecting most crop plants.
    • Poor database for horticultural crops.
    • Decreased investments in the agricultural sector over the years.

    Role of emerging technologies in crop diversification:

    • With the help of IT revolution, farmers are directly connected with grocery-customers (farm to fork model) leading to cultivation of high value perishable products (e.g., Big Basket, BlinkIt startup platforms).
    • Aquaponics and urban farming are a technique of controlled environment cultivation which help in crop diversification in order to meet the heavy urban demand for perishable items.
    • Through financial inclusion and digitisation, small farmers and women self-help groups have been able to ensure crop diversification by credit supply.
    • In arid areas, technologies like Urea Deep Placement (UDP), Poly-bag Nursery farming, etc. have been introduced by Indo-Israel Agriculture Project.
    • Soil health management assisted in facilitating right fertiliser usage, developing organic farming and providing GIS based thematic mapping for soil.

  • 2022

    14. What is Integrated Farming System? How is it helpful to small and marginal farmers in India?

  • 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.

  • 2020

    13. What are the major factors responsible for making the rice-wheat system a success? In spite of this success how has this system become bane in India?

    The rice-wheat cropping system has remained a predominant cropping pattern in the Indo-Gangetic region since years. The pattern in itself is so robust that three-fourth of the country’s annual domestic need for wheat and rice is fulfilled by a handful of states in the region. Indian states that predominantly practice this system are Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.

    Factors responsible for making rice-wheat system a success

    • The first major reason is the availability of ideal geographical conditions. Cultivation of rice requires a good amount of water for irrigation. Fortunately, in India, especially northern India, a good amount of water is available through annual monsoonal rainfall. Similarly, cultivation of wheat requires cool, moist weather, followed by dry, warm weather with optimum temperature range 20-25 degree Celsius. Fortunately, this condition is available in northern India during November to February every year.
    • The second major reason is the support given by the Government of India to wheat and rice producers in the form of Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement. MSP is declared to give guaranteed price and assured market to the farmers and protect them from price fluctuations and market imperfections. Thus, farmers hardly opt for crops other than wheat and paddy.
    • Third major reason is the low input cost and high productivity in case of wheat and rice crops. Also, as per the government policy, the increase in MSPs of these two crops every year is comparatively more than the increase in the cost of production. So, farmers producing these crops generally have an increase in their profits year by year.

    The Rice-Wheat system has become bane in India because of following reasons

    • Residue management: The straw residue in case of wheat is used in animal husbandry but straw residue in case of rice or paddy cannot be used for animal husbandry due to high silica content. So, to dispose of the residue from the field and make the land ready for the next wheat crop, farmers burn the straw in open fields. This causes major environmental pollution, especially during the months of November-December in the NCR region.
    • Unchecked water usage: Paddy has a high-water footprint and therefore leads to large amounts of groundwater extraction for irrigation by farmers. This has declined the underground water table in most parts of northern India. Since artificial recharge of aquifers is still not very feasible in India and groundwater recharge is still dependent on rainfall, the depleting water table is a major issue.
    • Lack of Crop rotation: Crop rotation helps to maintain soil structure and nutrient levels and to prevent soil borne pests. Continuous plantation of wheat and rice on the same land has degraded the soil structure and nutrition levels in soil. Cereal crops like sorghum, maize, and millet are more nutritious than wheat and rice and so should be given equal importance in the cropping system.
    • MSPs: Since MSPs on wheat and rice ensures good income to farmers at minimal risks, farmers have increased the production of wheat and rice to such levels that there is glut in the market. The burgeoning stocks of wheat and rice means higher social costs and a higher subsidy bill by the government, putting additional pressure on an already stressed government.

    Thus, to sum up, we can say that the rice-wheat system is doing less good for the country and this is the time to do away with this old agricultural practice. There is an urgent need to take necessary steps to implement new and sustainable agricultural policy and rules in this regard.

  • 2021

    13. What are the salient features of the National Food Security Act, 2013? How has the Food Security Bill helped in eliminating hunger and malnutrition in India?

    Regarded as a landmark legislation to ameliorate the conditions of the poor and the food insecure population, the National Food Security Act, 2013 aims to ensure people’s food and nutritional security by assuring access to a sufficient quantity of high-quality food at reasonable prices. It provides subsidised food grains to 75% of India’s rural population and 50% of its urban population.

    Salient features:

    • Eligibility, Coverage and Identification of Households: The Act defines ‘eligible households’ under two categories: (i) households covered under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) and (ii) households covered as the priority households under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS). The State Government is to identify the eligible households.
    • Food Entitlements: Each priority household shall be entitled to 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month from the State Government under the TPDS. The households covered under the AAY shall be entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains per household per month at the subsidised price not exceeding Rs. 3, Rs. 2 and Rs. 1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains respectively for a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act.
    • Nutritional Support: Every pregnant and lactating woman shall be entitled to a meal, free of charge, during pregnancy and six months after the child birth through the local anganwadi and maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6000.
    • Food Security Allowance: The Act stipulates that in case of non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to the entitled persons, such persons shall be entitled to receive such food security allowance from the concerned State Government.
    • Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Every State Government shall put in place an internal grievance redressal mechanism which may include call centres, designation of nodal officers etc.

    Role of food security bill in eliminating hunger and malnutrition in India:

    • As per a UN report, from 2006 to 2019, the number of undernourished people in India has dropped by 60 million.
    • The hunger outcomes amongst the poor and underprivileged have improved through better access to foodgrains.
    • Resilience in the poor against income shocks has increased by broad coverage of the 2/3rd population.
    • According to the UN report, stunting in children under 5 years of age has reduced from 47.8% in 2012 to 34.7% in 2019.
    • Wage loss during pregnancy has been compensated by monetary compensation.
    • The awareness created by the ASHA workers has increased the number of infants who were exclusively breastfed from 11.2 million in 2012 to 13.9 million in 2019.

  • 2022

    13. What are the main bottlenecks in upstream and downstream process of marketing of agricultural products in India?

  • 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.

  • 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

    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

    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.

  • 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.       

  • 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.

  • 2019

    4. Elaborate the impact of National Watershed Project in increasing agricultural production from waterstressed areas.

    Watershed project involves conservation, regeneration and judicious use of all the resources like land, water, plants, animals and humans within the watershed area.

    The National Watershed Project also known as Neeranchal National Watershed Project is a World Bank assisted watershed management project. The objective of this project is to support Integrated Watershed Management Program (IWMP) through technical assistance to improve incremental conservation outcomes for the natural resources including water, soil and forests while enhancing agricultural yields in a sustainable manner for farming communities.

    Water-stressed regions of India such as Northwest India, Vidarbha region of Maharashtra etc. are prone to drought and water scarcity thus affecting the agricultural production in the regions. The National Watershed Project has the potential in increasing agricultural production in these regions:

    • The project has led in reduction of surface runoff thus increasing groundwater recharge, soil moisture and better availability of water in water-stressed areas. It also helps farmers to better manage surface and groundwater resources.
    • This has resulted in incremental agriculture productivity and increased cropping intensity through optimum utilization of natural resources like land, water, vegetation etc.
    • For example, a watershed project in Bangaru, Telangana has increased crop yields and cropping intensity significantly. This is also accompanied by a shift towards higher-value crops especially horticultural crops.
    • It will also help to mitigate the adverse effects of drought and prevent further ecological degradation and support farmers in water-stressed areas to adapt to climatic change and ensuring improved livelihoods for people.
    • It helps in the restoration of ecological balance in the degraded and fragile water-stressed areas by increasing vegetative cover and decrease soil erosion through afforestation and crop plantation.
    • People’s involvement including the farmers and tribal is the key to the success of any watershed management program, particularly the soil and water conservation. Successful watershed management has been done at Sukhomajri, Panchkula and Haryana through active participation of the local people.

    However, watershed project faces certain challenges such as very little community participation, lack of coordination between implementing departments and ministries, etc. Properly educating the people about the project and its benefits or sometimes paying certain incentives to them can help in effective people’s participation. Watershed Development on a large scale is the best solution to overcome water-stressed problems.

  • 2020

    4. What are the challenges and opportunities of the food processing sector in the country? How can the income of the farmers be substantially increased by encouraging food processing?

    Food processing generally includes the basic preparation of foods, the alteration of a food product into another form, and preservation and packaging techniques. For example, extraction of mango juice from the pulp.

    Challenges Faced by Food Processing Industry In India

    • Supply Side Bottlenecks: Fragmented land holdings result in low farm productivity. Due to this, farmers are left with a small and dispersed marketable surplus.
    • Demand Side Bottlenecks: The demand for processed food is mainly restricted to urban areas of India and the middle and higher class of population.
    • Infrastructure Bottlenecks: Lackofmechanizationandpropersupply chainresultsinpooraccesstomarket.High seasonality and perishability requires cold storage & warehousing facilities and road, rail & port connectivity.
    • Manpower: There is a shortage ofskilled workers. At each level in the value chain, there are strong deficiencies in technical know-how and support.
    • Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measure: The stringent SPS measures applied by developed countries also impedes the exports of processed foods.

    Opportunities Associated with Food Processing Industries

    • Employment Generation: FPI provides vital linkage between the two pillars of the economy – agriculture and industry. Therefore, it provides direct and indirect employment opportunities.
    • Nutritional Security: Processed foods when fortified with vitamins and minerals can reduce the nutritional gap in the population.
    • Trade and Foreign exchange: Food export can be an important source of foreign exchange, given the huge demand for nutritious, easy to eat and time-saving food in the evolving busy liefestyle.

    Food Processing Industry & Farmers’ Income

    • Value Addition: Processed foods fetch a better price than the raw items. For example, the value of biscuit is higher than flour although the raw item is the same. Thus, FPI can help farmers in getting a favourable price for their products.
    • Demand for Agro-Products: Urbanization is increasing at a rapid pace in India, which subsequently, increases the demand for processed food. The rise in demand for processed food will, in turn, lead to rise in farmers’ income.
    • Combating Rural Unemployment: Food processing being a labour-intensive industry will provide localized employment opportunities and thus will reduce the push factor in source regions of migration.

    Food processing has become an integral part of the food supply chain in the global economy. India being an agrarian dominated country must leverage its potential in the Food Processing Industry. It will be help India in doubling farmers’ income by 2022-23.

  • 2021

    4. How and to what extent would micro-irrigation help in solving India’s water crisis?

    Water is a scarce natural resource but the major requirement in the agricultural sector. The efficient use of available water for irrigation is a major challenge. A nation with annual water availability of below 1,700 kilolitres per head is considered water deficient. India’s per capita water availability is estimated at 1,428 kilolitres per year.

    Micro-irrigation is a modern method of irrigation by which water is irrigated through drippers, sprinklers, foggers and by other emitters on the surface or subsurface of the land. Sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation are the commonly used micro-irrigation methods.

    Significance of micro-irrigation:

    • Micro-irrigation ensures water use efficiency. It applies water directly to the root zone, the practice reduces loss of water through conveyance, run-off, deep percolation and evaporation.
    • Water savings in comparison with flood irrigation are to the tune of 30-50%.
    • Electricity consumption falls significantly, as being water efficient it requires less water to be pumped.
    • The localised water application in micro-irrigation prevents fertilizers from washing away, and so reduces nutrient loss or leaching. The micro-irrigation system can also be effectively used to apply fertilizers (fertigation) in a targeted way so as to prevent weed growth.
    • Micro-irrigation, by virtue of localised water application, avoids soil erosion. It does not require land leveling and can irrigate fields that are irregularly shaped, making it much less labor-intensive and less costly.

    Nevertheless, micro-irrigation also has certain limitations:

    • Expense especially initial cost is high mainly for marginal and small farmers.
    • Maintenance cost for the tubes, sprinklers may go out of pocket for small farmers.
    • The lifetime of the tubes used in drip irrigation can be shortened by the sun causing wastage.
    • It needs more awareness and higher rate of adoption in water stressed areas.

    The future revolution in agriculture will come from precision farming. Micro-irrigation can, indeed, be the stepping stone for achieving the goal of making farming sustainable, profitable and productive.

  • 2019

    3. How far is Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production.

    The Integrated Farming System (IFS) is a combined approach aimed at efficient sustainable resource management for increased productivity in the cropping system. The IFS approach has multiple objectives of sustainability, food security, farmer’s security and poverty reduction by involving livestock, vermicomposting, organic farming etc.

    Indian farm sector needs to address the twin challenges of productivity and sustainability along with augmentation of farmer’s income. For this, IFS emerges as one of the most viable options, as it ensures:

    • Productivity: IFS provides an opportunity to increase economic yield per unit area by virtue of intensification of crop and allied enterprises especially for small and marginal farmers.
    • Profitability: It has the capability to make the sector profitable by reducing the use of chemical fertilizer and recycling nutrients.
    • Sustainability: In IFS, subsystem of one byproduct works as an input for the other subsystem, making it environmentally sustainable. Moreover, IFS components are known to control the weed and regarded as an important element of integrated pest management and thus minimize the use of weed killers as well as pesticides and thereby protect the environment.
    • Recycling: Effective recycling of products, by-products and waste material in IFS is the cornerstone behind the sustainability of farming system under resource poor condition in rural areas.
    • Income round the year: Due to interaction of enterprises with crops, eggs, meat and milk, IFS provides flow of money round the year amongst the farming community.
    • Best utilization of small landholdings: Indian farmers in many regions such as in north-eastern part, practice subsistence agriculture. They also have a rich traditional base in water harvesting, soil management etc. which could be efficiently utilized under IFS.
    • Meeting fodder crisis: Byproduct and waste material of crop are effectively utilized as fodder for livestock (Ruminants) and products like grain, maize are used as feed for monogastric animals (pigs and poultry).
    • Employment generation: Combining crop with livestock enterprises would increase the labour requirement significantly and would help in reducing the problems of underemployment and unemployment to a great extent. IFS provides enough scope to employ family labour round the year.

    IFS provides multiple benefits that are sustainable and can pave the way for climate-smart agriculture. India needs to adopt a “well designed” Integrated Farming System (IFS) to realise the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and having sustainable agricultural practices.

  • 2020

    3. What are the main constraints in transport and marketing of agricultural produce in India?

    Agriculture contributes about 17% to India’s GDP and it is the primary source of livelihood for more than 55% of India’s population. Indian farmerstoday can sell their produce at the local market, APMC (Agricultural Produce Market Committee) mandis or to the government at the minimum support price (MSP). But still those traditional mechanisms are not improving the farmers’ income. So as to double farmers income and to provide sustainable livelihood, effective transportation and marketing of agricultural produce is crucial.

    Constraints in Transport

    • Poor rural connectivity to markets.
    • Poor supply chain development.
    • Lack in warehousing and cold storage facilities especially in the rural areas where agricultural commodities are being produced.
    • Poor vehicle design or non-availability of cold chain vehicles that transport perishable agricultural produce.

    Constraints in Marketing

    • High logistical cost.
    • Lack of formal agricultural market.
    • Lack of packaging, grading and measurement facility.
    • Stringent commodity transfer control at the state level
    • Lack of national market development
    • Lack of technology integration in the market mechanism
    • Low marketable surplus for agricultural goods.
    • Malpractices in the market and lack of market information.

    The problem for transport and marketing of agricultural produce  do not only result in wastage of product and loss of efficiency but also  have a very large impact on equitable distribution and inclusive growth by depriving by reducing the returns for smaller farmers.

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