ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The (Repealed) Union Contract Farming Act, 2020

The rationale and the implications of the now repealed Union Contract Farming Act of 2020 and its implications for farmers is the focus of this article. It highlights some major lacunae in it from a design and small farmer perspective informed by experience of contract farming in India. The article argues for better provisions to protect smallholder interests and the need to leverage contract farming for their development.

Are Subsidies Trade-distortionary?

To benefit the farmers green box subsidies may be given.

Karnataka’s ‘Surya Raitha’ Experiment

Solar-powered irrigation has expanded in India at an unprecedented pace—the number of solar irrigation pumps—from less than 4,000 in 2012 to more than 2,50,000 by 2019. It has been argued that besides giving farmers an additional and reliable source of income, grid-connected SIPs also incentivise efficient energy and water use—critical for sustaining groundwater irrigation. The Surya Raitha scheme was the country’s first, state-driven initiative for solarisation of agriculture feeders by replacing subsidy-guzzling, inefficient electric pumps with energy-efficient, net-metered SIPs. An early appraisal of Surya Raitha lauded the scheme as a smart initiative and argued that it could set an example for promoting solar power as a remunerative crop. However, the scheme was eventually executed as a single feeder pilot with some design changes in Nalahalli panchayat from 2015–18. The authors visited the pilot in 2017–18 and 2018–19 to assess if it had delivered the promises of Surya Raitha scheme. The results are a mixed bag and offer important lessons for implementation and scaling out of component C of the Government of India’s Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan policy.

Impending Water Crisis in India

Emerging Water Insecurity in India: Lessons from an Agriculturally Advanced State by Ranjit Singh Ghuman and Rajeev Sharma, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018; pp xxvi + 298, price not indicated .

Pesticide Poisoning in India

Across the world, studies show rising numbers in pesticide poisonings. Pesticide poisoning is a big problem in India. Due to various challenges, the data on pesticide poisoning compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau is not comprehensive. There is a direct linkage between intensive pesticide usage and poisoning. Pesticide poisoning—a growing public health issue—is ignored by the medical community, police, agriculture departments, and other regulatory authorities.

Agrarian Structure of Punjab in the Post-green Revolution Era

While Punjab is endowed with population bonus from a macro perspective, the dividend viewed at a household level has placed Punjab farmers in two major difficulties: the shrinkage of farm size and the underutilisation of the dividend. Due to a dearth of decent non-farm job opportunities, Punjab farmers have struggled to pursue distress-coping strategies. This paper focuses on three primary strategies for survival: land leases, overseas migration, and obtaining informal domestic jobs outside the agricultural sector, based on our unique data of 956 landholders and 254 landless households across Punjab.

Government Policies Drive Farmers to Penury

Ironically, agricultural households now earn “more” income from wages than from crop farming.

Production, Trade and Consumption of Pulses

The Global Economy of Pulses edited by Vikas Rawal and Dorian Kalamvrezos Navarro, Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2019; pp xi + 174, price not indicated.

What Does the Rural Economy Need?

The agricultural sector has performed worse than the other sectors over the years. The shares of non-agricultural employment and output have increased, while70% of agricultural householdscannot meet their low consumptionneeds even after diversification of sources of income. An analysis of budgetary provisions for the rural economy suggests that the government has not done enough to address some of these well-documented problems, and does not have the required vision to substantially increase rural employment opportunities.

Well Worth the Effort

More than 1,00,000 wells were sanctioned for construction under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Jharkhand during the last few years. This study evaluates the outcome of this well-construction drive through a survey of nearly 1,000 wells in 24 randomly selected gram panchayats. A majority of sanctioned wells (60% with parapet and 70% without) were completed at the time of the survey. Nearly 95% of completed wells are being utilised for irrigation, leading to a near tripling of agricultural income of those in the command area. The real rate of return from these wells in Jharkhand is estimated to be close to 6%, a respectable figure for any economic investment. However, well construction involves some out-of-pocket expenses and this investment is risky: nearly 12% of the wells were abandoned midway.

Agrarian Question in India

Using the latest National Sample Survey Office data on land distribution and use, questions of agrarian change in India are revisited. With reducing landholding size in general, the increasing unviability of such small plots, and increasing numbers of "effectively" landless households, the larger questions of employment and sectoral shifts are flagged. There is still no clear transition away from agriculture.

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