Despite being heavily dependent on agriculture for food and livelihood security, the state of this sector in eastern India remains poor. Discuss. Suggest steps to usher in sustainable agriculture revolution to this region.

Despite being heavily dependent on agriculture for food and livelihood security, the state of this sector in eastern India remains poor. Discuss. Suggest steps to usher in sustainable agriculture revolution to this region.

Approach

  • Introduce with agriculture in eastern India
  • Discuss various aspects of agriculture that compare poorly to rest of India – including returns, yield, vulnerability etc.
  • Discuss measures to bring sustainable agriculture revolution – like diversification, integrated farming, infrastructure etc.
  • Conclude appropriately
Model Answer :

A large fraction of the population in Eastern India is dependent on agriculture for food and livelihood security. Though the region has the best of soils in the country and an abundance of water, sunshine and labour, agricultural performance is largely of subsistence level.

Poor state of agriculture in Eastern India:

  • Poor returns: The average annual farm incomes in eastern states are also nearly half of the national average, and much less (5-7 times lower) compared to the north-western states.
  • Poor yield: The crop yields are low and almost stagnating in eastern India. Average yield of rice per hectare is less than half that in Punjan and Haryana, while the average yield of wheat is significantly below the national average.
  • Vulnerable to climate change: The region is also highly vulnerable to climate change, making agriculture more vulnerable to climate extremes such as droughts and floods, resulting in high inter-year crop yield variability.
  • Poor marketing: In the absence of suitable marketing facilities in the region, most farmers sell their surplus at non-remunerative prices soon after harvests.
  • Others: The region also has experienced low adoption of improved varieties of crops and new technologies as well as low investment in agriculture development.

In recent years, agriculture in this region has begun to transform with aid of schemes like BGREI (Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India). But the pace of transformation needs to be accelerated through reforms to usher in Green Revolution.

Measures to bring in sustainable green revolution in the region:

  • Agri-diversification: Diversification of agriculture in eastern India towards high-value produce will be a significant step forward to increase farmer’s income. There is enormous scope for dairy, horticulture and fisheries in eastern India.
  • Integrated-farming system: An integrated-farming-system (IFS) approach – through innovation in farming, community-led systems for water conservation, organic farming along with activities like dairy, poultry, fishery, goat-rearing – can generate additional incomes for farmers.
  • Infrastructure: Physical and financial infrastructure such as agro-processing, rural warehouses, cold storages, cold chains, and financing institutions should be provided.
  • Others: Access to efficient input- and output-markets, irrigation etc. are also needed.

A comprehensive approach by integrating technologies, policies, institutions and agri-infrastructure is necessary to usher in a new green revolution in eastern India. The success of all efforts will rely on how farmers are consolidated through self-help groups or farmer-producer organisations or cooperatives to take advantage of economies-of-scale.

Subjects : Editorials

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