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Agriculture Research & Development

Agriculture Research & Development

UPSC CSE Mains Syllabus: GS-3- Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System- objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security; Technology missions; economics of animal-rearing..

Agriculture Research & Development

Agriculture and allied sectors account for approximately 14 per cent of India’s GDP, and 50 per cent of its entire workforce is involved in these sectors. India is now the second largest producer of wheat and rice, the major staple food of the world. In the last few years, our country has shown a steady annual increase in kilograms per hectare produce for certain agricultural items. 

  • Indian agriculture has transformed significantly over the last few decades.
  • Multiple factors sach as growth in household income, expansion in food processing, and increase in agricultural exports has facilitated double digit growth to this sector.
  • The green revolution was a major technological breakthrough which created a lasting impact on Indian agriculture.
  • However, when it comes to investments on Research & Development (R&D) Infrastructure and Technology implementation, a lot more needs to be done.

R&D in Agriculture: The Ground Reality 

  • With ever-increasing supply-side constraints, the role of R&D has become increasingly important with the potential to offer long-term solutions for Indian agriculture.
  • Farmers’ access to latest researches can help in overcoming issues such as seed problems, pest and disease problems, crop sustainability, climate change, irrigation problems, soil erosion, to name a few. 
  • Earlier, research institutions, agricultural universities, and public sector corporations were important stakeholders in the R&D ecosystem for sustainable agricultural practices.
  • However today, even multinationals and private sector firms, is investing heavily on R&D.

Agri R&D And Extension:

  • China spends a lot more on agriculture knowledge and innovation system (AKIS), which includes agri R&D and extension.
  • Impact of investment and subsidies on agri-GDP growth and poverty alleviation revealed that the highest impact is from investments in agriculture research and education (R&E). 
  • India invests 0.35 per cent of its agri-Gross Value Added (GVA) while China spends 0.8 per cent.
  • To increase total factor productivity, India needs to increase expenditure on agri-R&D.

Producer Support Estimate :

  • The incentive structure as measured by producer support estimates (PSEs) is much better for Chinese farmers than Indian farmers.
  • This negative PSE (support) is fallout of restrictive marketing and trade policies that do not allow Indian farmers to get free trade prices for their output.
  • To address this, India needs to carry out large scale agri-marketing reforms (APMC and Essential Commodities Act).
  • India needs to reduce the gamut of commodities under the MSP system and keep MSPs below international prices. 
    The Producer Support Estimate (PSE) is an indicator of the annual monetary value of gross transfers from consumers and taxpayers to support agricultural producers, measured at farm gate level, arising from policy measures, regardless of their nature, objectives or impacts on farm production or income.  

Direct income support schemes:

  • China has combined its major input subsidies in a single scheme, which allows direct payment to farmers on per hectare basis.
  • This gives the farmers freedom to produce any crop rather than incentivising them to produce specific crops. 
  • It may be better for India to also consolidate all its input subsidies and give them directly to farmers on per hectare basis and free up prices from all controls.
  • This would go a long way to spur efficiency and productivity in Indian agriculture.

Finally, India should take measures like investing more in agri-R&D and innovations, improving incentives for farmers by carrying out agri-marketing reforms, and collapsing input subsidies into direct income support on per hectare basis. This could put India’s agriculture on a high growth trajectory.

In spite of successful R&D initiatives around crop cultivation and protection and huge investments from the private sector, a majority of farmers in India have not been able to get optimum yield in the absence of expert scientific advices.The need of the hour is to bridge the gap between research and practice.

Source:” Indian Express.”

POSSIBLE UPSC MAINS EXAMINATION:

Assess how far Research and Development is adopted in Indian Agriculture. How could it be improved?