IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 16th Dec

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” – Joshua J. Marine

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #280 :“Cropping Pattern in Punjab and Haryana | UPSC

Cropping Pattern in Punjab and Haryana | UPSC Cropping Pattern in Punjab and Haryana | UPSC

Ramesh Chand and Jaspal Singh
Cropping Pattern in Punjab and Haryana | UPSC

Ramesh Chand and Jaspal Singh are with NITI Aayog, New Delhi as Member and Consultant, respectively.

      HEADLINES:

Punjab, Haryana need to look beyond MSP crops

      CENTRAL THEME:

In tackling agri-crises, these core Green Revolution States must shift to high value crops and promote non-farm activities

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3 : Agriculture

      MAINS QUESTION:

If per farmer agriculture incomes in Haryana and Punjab are two to three times more than the national average, then why is there so much talk of farmers’ distress in these two States? Substantiate -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Green Revolution
  • Rice and Wheat in Focus
  • Environmental Issues and Jobs
  • Agricultural specificities

      INTRODUCTION: 

The region comprising Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, was an early adopter of Green Revolution technology.

  • MODERN AGRICULTURE : It was also a major beneficiary of various policies adopted to spread modern agriculture technology in the country.
  • QUICK RESULT POLICY : The package of technology and policies produced quick results, enabled India to move from a country facing a severe shortage of staple food to becoming a nation close to self-sufficiency in just 15 years.

      BODY: 

THE RICE AND WHEAT FOCUS

  • FARMERS AND MSP : Procurement of marketed surplus of paddy (rice) and wheat at Minimum Support Price (MSP) completely insulated farmers against any price or market risks.

At the same time, it ensured a reasonably stable flow of income from these two crops.

  • PRESTIGIOUS CROPS : Over time, the technological advantage of rice and wheat over other competing crops has further increased .

Public sector agriculture research and development allocated their best resources and scientific manpower to these two crops.

  • INDIRECT INVESTMENTS : Other public and private investments in water and land and input subsidies were the other favourable factors.
  • PEOPLE’S CHOICE : Thus, wheat in rabi and paddy in kharif turned out to be the best in terms of productivity, income, price and yield risk and ease of cultivation among all the field crops (cereals, pulses, oilseeds).
  • NET CULTIVATION : It is no surprise then that the area share of rice and wheat in the total cropped area rose from 48% in Punjab and 29% in Haryana in the early 1970s to 84% and 60%, respectively in recent years.

While wheat was being cultivated in this region since long, paddy cultivation was totally new for most farmers in Punjab and Haryana.
 

  • FOOD SECURITY : The progress and specialisation towards these two crops served the great national goal of securing the food security of the country.
  • STAGNANT INCOME : Serious concerns have also been expressed about plateauing productivity and stagnant income from rice-wheat cultivation.

PUNJAB, HARYANA VS. STATES

  • HIGHER PRODUCTIVITY : Assured MSP which is often above open market price, free power, and fertilizer subsidy underlie the higher income per unit area from wheat and paddy cultivation.

Land-labour ratio is also very favourable in Punjab when compared to other States.

  • NET SOWN AREA : On an average a farmer owns and cultivates 2.14 hectares net sown area as against 1.42 hectares in Haryana and 1.17 hectares at the national level.
  • NET ANNUAL INCOME : An estimate of income (derived from National Accounts Statistics) shows that all agriculture activities taken together generate an annual net income of ₹5.31 lakh per cultivator in Punjab.

It is ₹3.44 lakh in Haryana while the all-India average is ₹1.7 lakh (reference year, 2017-18). 

  • LOSS IN MOMENTUM : The reasons seem to be the loss of growth momentum in the income from the agriculture sector, which has fallen to 1% in Haryana and 0.6% in Punjab after 2011-12.
  • STANDARD OF LIVING : This is quite low by any standard and not keeping in pace with an increase in households’ expenditure.
  • GROWTH PROSPECTS : The prospects of further growth in agricultural income from the crop sector dominated by rice and wheat are very dim.
  • INCREASED PRESSURE ON MSP : With the productivity of rice and wheat reaching a plateau, there is pressure to seek an increase in MSP to increase income.
  • DEMAND VS SUPPLY : However, demand and supply do not favour an increase in MSP in real terms. In India, the per capita intake of rice and wheat is declining and consumers’ preference is shifting towards other foods.
  • THE URBAN SHIFT : It may look strange that the average spending by urban consumers is more on beverage and spices than on all cereals.
  • COMPETITIVE PRODUCTION : On the supply side, rice production is rising at the rate of 14% per year in Madhya Pradesh, 10% in Jharkhand and 7% in Bihar.

Obviously, the advantage of rice production is shifting towards these States.

  • PRESSURE ON PROCUREMENT : This will further increase pressure on the procurement and buffer stock of rice.
  • OVERFLOWING GRANARIES : Rice and wheat procurement in the country has more than doubled after 2006-07 and buffer stocks have swelled to an all time high.
  • STORAGE ISSUES : The country does not find an easy way to dispose of such large stocks and they are creating stress on the fiscal resources of the state.
  • FARMERS INCOME : The implication of all these changes is that farmers in the region will find it difficult to increase their income from rice-wheat cultivation.
  • MARKETING SKILLS : Procurement of almost the entire market arrivals of rice and wheat at MSP for more than 50 years has affected the entrepreneurial skills of farmers to sell their produce in a competitive market.
  • CONTRACT FARMING : Thus, to enable Punjab and Haryana farmers to move toward high-paying horticulture crops requires institutional arrangements on price assurance such as contract farming.

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, JOBS

  • DEPLETING AQUIFERS : The biggest casualty of paddy cultivation and the policy of free power for pumping out groundwater for irrigation is this: the depletion of groundwater resources.

In the last decade, the water table has shown a decline in 84% observation wells in Punjab and 75% in Haryana.

  • OVEREXPLOITATION OF RESOURCES : It is feared that Punjab and Haryana will run out of groundwater after some years if the current rate of overexploitation of water is not reversed.
  • STUBBLE BURNING : In the last couple of years, the burning of paddy stubble and straw has become another serious environmental and health hazard in the whole region.
  • ASPIRATIONS OF YOUTH : Another rather more serious challenge for the two States is to provide attractive employment to rural youths.

As it is well known, most of the farm work in these two States is undertaken by migrant labour. 

  • JOB OPPORTUNITIES : The younger generation is not willing to do manual work in agriculture and looks for better paying salaried jobs in non-farm occupations.
  • GROWING JOB SEEKERS : Government jobs are few and far less than the number of job seekers.Thus, the option left is to create jobs in the private industry and the services sector.
  • RISE IN MILITANCY : Punjab has witnessed a flight of private capital from the State during the rise of militancy which hurt the State economy, employment and the revenues of the State.
  • PER CAPITA INCOME : This setback has pushed the rank of the State in per capita income from number one in the 1970s and the early 1980s to number 13 among the major States of the country.
  • MEETING THE ASPIRATIONS : The State needs large-scale private investments in modern industry, services, and commerce besides agriculture.
  • A GRADUAL SHIFT IS NEEDED : The solution to the ecological and economic challenges facing agriculture in the traditional Green Revolution States is not in legalising MSP but to shift from MSP crops to high value crops.
  • AREA SPECIFIC GOALS : Rather than focusing on a few enterprises, Punjab and Haryana should look at a large number of area-specific enterprises to avoid gluts.

This will require a mechanism to cover price and market risks.

  • ROLE OF FPO’S : Farmers’ groups and farmer producer organisations can play a significant role in the direct marketing of their produce.

      IASbhai Windup: 

AGRICULTURAL SPECIFICITIES

  • BOOSTING ECONOMIC STRUCTURE : Both Punjab and Haryana need to promote economic activities with strong links with agriculture tailored to State specificities.
  • FUTURE OF RURAL YOUTH : The traditional Green Revolution States of Punjab and Haryana would need to shed “business as usual” approach and embrace an innovative development strategy in agriculture and non-agriculture .

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS

  • Promotion of food processing in formal and informal sectors.
  • A big push to post-harvest value addition and modern value chains.
  • A network of agro- and agri-input industries; high-tech agriculture.
  • A direct link of production and producers to consumption and consumers without involving intermediaries.
       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Cropping Pattern in Punjab and Haryana | UPSC

 

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