The country saw a host of agricultural protests, policies, disputes and distress in 2018; here’s all of it
Farmers’ protests ruled the headlines this year. Their distress over low farm prices, poor logistics for transport and government-assured purchases has been evident.
While the 14 volumes of Dalwai committee report on doubling farmers’ income provided a road map for transition from a mere Green Revolution to an Income Revolution for farmers, controversies around stubble burning causing air pollution too made news this year.
Here is low down on the major developments in this sector
DARK SIDE OF FARMING
Thousands kill themselves
Punjab saw 16,606 farm suicides between 2000 and 2015, revealed data compiled by three universities. The debt-trapped farmers in the state are finding it hard to get takers for surplus wheat and rice.
State fails farmers
Rythu Bandhu scheme, farmers’ income-support scheme in Telangana, caused distress owing to the failure of land reforms and redistribution in the state, as well as a heightening unviability of farm economy.
March for demands
More than 50,000 farmers from over 60 villages in the Thane-Palghar district protested against the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train and the Mumbai-Vadodara expressway and the loss of over 1000 acres of agricultural land and houses
ENSURANCE OF INSURANCE
Dip on loans
Crop loans in Maharashtra reduced by Rs 1,426 crore between April-May 2018 and the same time in 2017. The state’s main sowing season has begun, but farmers have been able to get less credit from banks than they did last year.
Bihar state cabinet on June 6 gave its nod to the Bihar State Crop Assistance Scheme which replaced the existing system of crop insurance with effect from kharif (monsoon) season.
Against claims of Rs 14,453 crore made by farmers for crop losses in kharif 2017 under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, insurance firms paid a mere Rs 733 crore so far, a payout ratio of just 5 per cent. The payouts crashed because states hadn’t paid premium.
NO PEST ATTACK
Around three years after the Anupam Verma Committee submitted its recommendations, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare issued the Pesticides (Prohibition) Order, 2018, banning 18 pesticides.
Pink spells damage
The Maharashtra government asked cotton seed firms to pay farmers Rs 93 crore for pink bollworn pest attacks. The pink bollworm has been damaging Maharashtra’s cotton crop since the last two years.
A pest attack left cotton growers in a poor state in Nagpur as the rates for their produce dropped sharply.
Fall Armyworm was detected on sugarcane crops in Tamil Nadu’s two districts—Erode and Karur. The caterpillar is native to North America. It is a polyphagous pest, which means that it feeds on many items. It is recorded as eating 186 plant species from 42 families. These include cereals and forage grasses.
NOT INACTION, BUT IN ACTION
The Centre sanctioned Rs 1,500 crore for three years to promote organic farming in Uttarakhand.
Under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana scheme, 250 farmers adopted organic farming to cultivate wheat in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh.
Jharkhand government decided to develop 3,000 clusters for organic farming.
The Punjab government agreed to revise the terms and conditions of the Paddy Straw Challenge fund to find a viable technological solution to combat the menace of paddy straw burning.
WAY FORWARD: STUDIES DONE, POLICIES MADE
The fourteenth volume of the Report of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI), which was released in Spetmeber by the Ministry of Agriculture & Family Welfare, is a compilation of the various subject matter recommendations, which are detailed in the previous 13 Volumes. It says that the agriculture sector as a profession will become wholesome, when transition happens from a mere Green Revolution to a Farmers’ Income Revolution or Income Revolution for the farmers–Good for the Farmer, Good for the Consumer and Good for the Planet.
In July, Statewise and item-wise estimates of value of output from agriculture and allied sectors presented information on Gross Value of Output of Agriculture and Allied Sectors for the years 2011-12 to 2015-16, both at current and constant prices. This report was prepared by Ministry Of Statistics And Programme Implementation
Less area, more holdings
This Agriculture Census 2015-16 released by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare in October showed a 1.53 per cent decline in total operated area at 157.14 million hectare as compared to 2010-11 data, but a rise in both operational holdings and female participation.
The All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey released in August by NABARD with reference year of 2015-16, which covered 40,327 rural households, highlighted that the average annual income of an agricultural household is Rs 1,07,172 compared to Rs 87,228 for families engaged only in non-agricultural activities.
Integrating is the way
The Draft Agriculture Export Policy, which was released in March, is aimed at doubling the agricultural exports and integrating Indian farmers and agricultural products to the global value chain.
For the better
The State/UT Agricultural Produce & Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2018 provided an analysis on improved production and marketing of agricultural produce and/or livestock and/or its product through holistic contract farming.
The Draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Animal Markets Rules, 2018, completely done away with the clause that banned both, the buyer and the seller, from trading cattle for slaughter.
An eye on ins and outs
The Pesticides Management Bill, 2017, which came out in February is to regulate the import, manufacture, export, storage, sale, transport, distribution, quality and use of pesticides
Make Haryana a food hub
The Haryana Agri-Business and Food Processing Policy 2018 that was implemented in June is to boost the food processing industry and make Haryana a final destination of choice for investments in the food processing sector.
AGRICULTURE IN COURT
On April 11, 2018, the Delhi high court declared invalid the Monsanto’s patent for Bt. Technology because Section 3(j) of the Patents Act prohibited the grant of patents for plants, plant varieties or seeds or any part thereof. This came as a deadly blow to the agro-biotech industry.
On February 5, the Kerala high court made it clear that it is the duty of the state to take remedial action to prevent straying of wild animals and also to suitably compensate the farmers when damage is caused.
Less loan, get loan
The Supreme Court, in May, said farmers whose loan amount is up to Rs.1,00,000 can receive loan for the incoming agricultural season.
For tragedy-hit farmers
The Supreme Court on October 4, directed the central government to submit a rehabilitation plan for the farmers in Andaman and Nicobar Island who were affected by the 2004 Tsunami.
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