The demand for food is increasing but the occupants for growing food are quitting and decreasing. Agriculture is the largest sector of the economy in India, holding 19.9% of GDP despite India being an agricultural country. A country that is one of the biggest food consuming nations will be left with very few cultivators.
Agriculture as a profession is dying, stopped being a desirable occupation. The average farmers or operational workers are of age 40-60 and while these are at the age of retirement the next generation doesn’t want to farm which leads to urbanisation. Farming can be thankless and rural lifestyle can be hard. The work done by masses can be backbreaking and if there is bad yield the result can be heartbreaking because farmers don’t have any sort of backup plans or lineup if there is a risk.
Growing more food is not the solution for more jobs because there is more than enough food. The question is who will produce food? The students graduating from agricultural courses change their subjects to other professional courses. Only 1.2% of youth aspires to become farmers. As per the National Farming survey, two in five farmers would quit if given a choice. 75% of youth residing in rural areas are migrating to cities, threatening the future of farming and food security. Youth abandoning the agricultural sector as a profession is not a unique occurrence. And it is happening due to not having the right information or knowledge and the misplaced credits for farming. It is true that farming is not given enough credit and has a perceived negative perception.
Challenges faced by farming and farmers:
• Planning and policies are poor- Policymakers should initiate the policies already formed and shift the agricultural sector away from those policies which are not working.
• Farmer’s welfare is non-existent.
• Lack of mechanisation, no advancements or modernizations- Despite the new generation being tech-savvy and all the large number of agricultural operations are held by human labour and conventional tools.
• Shortage of inputs- The capital investment is short. Seeds of good quality are out of reach for many farmers mainly due to the preposterous prices of the seeds.
• Youth approaching urbanisation
• Farming is not perceived as a viable or profitable occupation
• Little to no profit with high risk and uncertainty.
• Risked or vague crop productions
• The depleting reserves of freshwater
• Food insecurity is increased by the high rate of food waste
• Deficiency in agricultural market and trade network for farmers- The agriculture market is still in bad shape so the production of the farmers is sold by middlemen at the offhand price. Export of the product is possible but it would profit more to the processor or the trader because of the added value to the produce.
• Climatic changes- In India farming is done mainly in a conventional way so the farmers solely depend on the climatic factors but in recent years there are detectable changes in climate which is bad for both farming and farmers.
India needs to shift from basic farming towards sustainable, efficient and reliable methods of farming.
The productivity done per unit of land should be increased, the limited water resources should also be made sufficient compared to the urban and industrial needs.
To save farming it should be able to reduce rural poverty. Farmers should be able to earn even if the income is not generous at the start. They should adopt a technique where they can avoid the middlemen and earn the profit themselves.
Focus on transferring knowledge. Youth should be trained in training programmes. So they can see that there is scope in farming after getting some work done/improvement in that sector.
Farmers should have access to finance and markets. The crops for which the minimum support price is announced should go through the operation. Markets for farmers should be strengthened so that they can afford the price risk.
There should be mixed farming in case of a lack of irrigation. Agriculture should be diversified as it will go a long way. Smart farming should be adapted. Farmers are way too dependent on climate change which can be risky so the technology can be used here for forecasting weather, planning, marketing and linking the supply of rural areas to urban demand.
Farmers can have crop insurance that covers not only crop failure but also market failure.
The cost of production, supply chain, demand and crop choices are interlinked. So the work done should be according to the sustenance of the crop and earning profit.
Effective use of technology in farming:
The capital already initiated by our PM in Jan Dhan Yojna can be transferred directly to the farmers by the government.
Farmers can do all the marketing of the produce (also agricultural marketing) through their phones.
Farmers can be educated through means of technology about suitable fertilizers, techniques to avoid soil erosion.
Farming can be supported by:
-To support farming the services should be able to reach the farmers: The public services which provide knowledge through their research are not able to reach the farmers and there is no extension. Cultivators should be aware of the contemporary and up to date technology and methods/techniques of farming.
-The value-adding process should be applied to the crops. But in a way that the processors or traders should not earn more profit than the farmers.
Farmers can take loans from the bank due to the scheme initiated by the PM through pan-India which will help them from the debts traps.
-Farmers can initiate cooperative farming among their own by pooling a land of their benefit. Crops production should be shifted from only rice and wheat to cereals.
-Saving Environment and sustainable use of it.
-To make rural life and farming desirable there should be rural development. Not urbanisation but modernization in the use of techniques and the gradual decrease of poverty.
The challenges relating to agriculture are more complex than they seem and can be hard to comprehend so, rather than looking for a short term solution we should form/build a long term holistic approach for the farmers to bear the risk and make farming a desirable occupation.
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