Challenges faced by Indian farming during all-season farming
It is no new news that many issues plague Indian agriculture. These issues hurt the lives of farmers directly or indirectly. The farming activities of Indian farmers take a vast amount of labour and time. Due to a lack of farm equipment, their lives have become tiring. Most farmers cannot even afford a tractor. Modern technology adapts to the requirements of current farming needs. Their lives will become easy if they adopt and get trained in using it. It is essential to make farming a profit-making business in India. The condition of farmers has not changed over decades. They still live in poor conditions struggling to make ends meet. Middlemen purchase the produce at low rates and earn considerable margins in the market.
On the other hand, farmers remain working in the field and are poor. These issues need to be given immediate attention, so that reasonable efforts are initiated. Farm mechanisation is required, and tractors are a huge part of it. Go through the following section to learn about the significant challenges faced by Indian farmers.
- Irrigation: Farmers require good irrigation facilities for conducting agri-activities. Proper irrigation facilities are uncommon in India. Water reservoirs are the only source of water around the year. The most irrigated land is available in Punjab, around 98%. Haryana is in second place. However, the situation is different across India. Some states are dependent on monsoons as they do not experience enough rainfall for farming activities. There is a need for proper irrigation facilities, so there is no water wastage. Rain can be erratic, unreliable and uncertain in India. It is impossible to attain a sustained future in farming until assured irrigation is available for over half of the cropped land. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) collaborated with the government to launch a Long-Term Irrigation Fund of ₹ 40,000 crores. By Dec 2019, 99 big irrigation ventures had to be completed. However, there only has been limited progress in this matter.
- Small Landholdings: Fragmented landholding is a significant farming issue in India. Farmers own scattered plots or small farms. It is difficult to cultivate in scattered plots as resources have to be transported from one field to another. The concerning point is the fact that the landholding size is decreasing yearly. One of the primary reasons behind this issue is the Indian inheritance law. It reduces the number of available economic opportunities for farmers while reducing agricultural productivity. A small field will only be able to support a farmer’s family.
- Lack of infrastructure: While urban areas are progressing in India, rural India remains unchanged. Agricultural growth is obstructed as there is a lack of irrigation plans, credit sources, transportation facilities and 24/7 electricity. In addition, farmers are unaware of the technological advancements, due to which they do not know about modern equipment. Farmers waste a lot of labour as they do not have tractors. There is a negative impact on production as time and workforce are wasted. Modern equipment will reduce the time taken by farming operations while increasing the production output. Only some parts of India are witnessing large-scale mechanisation. Most regions still use conventional tools like a sickle and plough for farming. Modern technology can help facilitate agricultural marketing to make farmers aware of new developments in this sector.
- Traders and middlemen: Farmers usually do not know about market prices and fluctuations. They end up selling their produce to traders at low prices. On the other hand, traders make huge profits using market knowledge. Farmers are forced to sell produce at low prices as they require quick money for loan repayment after harvesting. They are exploited to such an extent that agriculture has become a non-profit-making field. Even though the government has implemented plans to increase farmers’ income, intermediaries still take away a massive chunk of money. Middlemen are accused of using old measurements and weights rather than electronic ones. Farmers are being cheated at all levels.
- Lack of Capital: Farmers need pesticides, agri-tools, seeds and fertilisers to run farming operations smoothly. However, most farmers in India are not well off and lack capital for investment. They cannot afford tractors to ease their lives. It is a massive obstacle to the agricultural progress of India. Only government cannot do everything to provide credit facilities. There is a need for the active participation of private institutions and start-ups. Small farmers face several production risks, such as crop failure, lack of irrigation, resources, floods and droughts. In addition, market risks such as poor bargaining power, high transaction cost and poor price realisation further trouble farmers. The central government started Jan Dhan Yojna to transfer capital directly to Indian farmers.
- Seeds: Seeds are the fundamental input to get better crop yields and sustainable production growth. It is essential to distribute assured quality seed. However, it is noticed that good quality seeds are inaccessible for most farmers. Due to their high prices, marginal and small farmers cannot afford them. Encouraging varietal diversity in seeds to suit various agro-climate regions of India is essential. National Seeds Corporation and State Farmers Corporation of India were formed to make available good quality seeds. There has been tremendous growth in the Indian seed industry, which is projected to boost agricultural production.
- Biocides, fertilisers, and manures: For centuries, crops have been grown on Indian soils without considering their replenishment. With tractors ploughing the fields around the year, soils are exhausted and depleted to produce low productivity. Thus, it becomes important to rely on fertilisers and manures to solve this issue. If the soil is well-nourished, crop yields will be good. In India, sufficient fertilisers and manures are not provided to all regions. It is seen that the most effective manure for the soil is cow dung. However, there is limited use of cow dung as rural areas use it for fuel. Firewood is not available easily due to the lack of forests and governmental bans. But the fuel demand is rising as the rural population is constantly increasing. It makes the issue more complicated. Suitable fertilisers can help increase harvests and reduce soil erosion. Thus, there is a need to reach out to farmers and educate them about the role of fertilisers in agricultural production.