Conference: Sustainable Development Goals: Preparedness and Role of Indian Agriculture

Call for Abstracts: Sustainable Development Goals: Preparedness and Role of Indian Agriculture

Source: Flickr (IFPRI) Leveled field being irrigated in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Trust for Advancement of Agricultural Sciences (TAAS) are jointly organizing a Conference on “Sustainable Development Goals: Preparedness and Role of Indian Agriculture” on 11-12 May 2017 in NASC Complex, New Delhi, India. The main aim of the conference is to prepare a roadmap for Indian agriculture to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) before 2030.

Globally, poverty and hunger are still twin challenges before human civilization despite specific temporal and spatial efforts. Though extreme poverty has been reduced by more than half since 1992, yet more than 1 billion people live on less than $ 1 a day.  To continue the global collective efforts of Millennium Development Goals, countries adopted renewed set of goals to end poverty and protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of new SDGs. There are 17 SDGs and four are directly related to agriculture: “no poverty”, “zero hunger”, “climate action”, and “life on land”.

Agriculture plays an important role for the livelihood of poor especially in rural areas. However, agriculture sector is currently facing numerous challenges. The question obviously before us is: How can agriculture contribute towards achieving SDGs? What should be the strategy to promote agriculture for achieving SDGs? What lessons other developing countries, especially South Asia, can learn from India or vice-versa?

It is our pleasure to invite you and your colleagues to participate in the conference and contribute abstracts in any of the following topics by 14 April, 2017:

  1. Status of Indicators of SDGs
  • Poverty and hunger
  • Land and water degradation
  • Climate risks
  1. Technologies to Accomplish SDG
  • Genetic enhancement
  • Natural resource management
  • Farm mechanization
  1. Role of Policies and Institutions
  • Backend service system
  • Agricultural marketing and food retailing
  • Agriculture-nutrition linkages
  1. Best Practices in Developing Countries
  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Africa

We shall appreciate if you circulate the invitation letter to your colleagues and students for participation and contribution. You can send in 300 words abstract mentioning the topic under which abstract is submitted with complete details of the corresponding author to Vaishali Dassani (v.dassani@cgiar.org).

Concept Note - March 22, 2017

Who Wants To Quit Agriculture And Why?

Farmer in Nalanda District, Bihar. Source: Divya Pandey, IFPRI
Farmer in Nalanda District, Bihar. Source: Divya Pandey, IFPRI

Agriculture the backbone of Indian economy that engages more than 50 percent of the country’s workforce, is losing its preference as the most desired profession. Research shows that more than 40 percent of farmers dislike farming as a profession because of low profits, high risk, and lack of social status, yet they continue with it owing to a lack of opportunities outside agriculture.

A recent study on “Farmers' Preference for Farming: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Farm Survey in India” identifies factors that underlie farmer’s reasons to move out of agriculture.

Farmers who express a preference for moving out of agriculture are mostly those with small landholdings, poor irrigation facilities, fewer productive assets including livestock, and follow a cereal-centric cropping pattern. They also have relatively lower access to credit, insurance, and information, and are weakly integrated with social networks such as self-help groups and farmers’ organizations. Within caste group, the dislike for farming moderates with larger landholdings.

If look in the past, over the year’s Indian agriculture faced the challenge of stagnation in arable land, rise in population with increase in demand, changing consumer preference and growing small land holder with an average size of 0.38 ha. According to the latest decennial population census 2011, for the first time in the last four decades, the absolute number of farmers in India fell by 9 million, from 127 million in 2001 to 119 million in 2011. However, a commensurate decline in the agricultural workforce did not occur. The share of agricultural workforce in the total employment declined extremely slowly from 74 percent in 1972-73 to 60 percent in 1993-94 and further to 52 percent in 2009-10.

The author’s highlights that lack of profitability, high risk, and lack of social status in farming and others in that order are few of reasons for moving out. About 67 percent disliked farming due to low profits, 18 percent due to high risk factors and remaining 15 percent based it on the low social status attached to the profession and other factors. Across the different farm land classes, low profitability remained the prominent denominator but it is relatively more pronounced among smaller farmers. Risk was directly in proportion with landholding sizes.

Study reveals that by comparing the net returns on the farms of potential quitters (those who don’t like farming as a profession) and willing stayers (those who like farming as a profession). It is as high as 25 percent in the medium (2.0-4.0 ha) farm class and 18 percent in small (1.0-2.0 ha) farm class. Importantly, the probability of quitting does not seem to be much influenced by social identity as the proportion of farmers disliking agriculture as a profession is almost similar across social classes.

The authors identifies number of pull and push factors underlying farmers’ decisions on agriculture. Pull factors mostly relate to the income opportunities outside agriculture for eg. access to non-farm business activities, higher education, income from labour/salaried jobs, while push factors are a reflection of the constrained livelihood opportunities in agriculture, forcing farmers to seek avenues outside agriculture for eg. lack of access to irrigation, farm credit, crop insurance, information on crop agronomy and modern technology. On the other way around access to irrigation and diversification of production structure towards high-value crops and livestock production make farming attractive to stay in agriculture.

These findings have two types of implications; one for the farm sector and the other for the nonfarm sector. The results point toward a tendency of possible decline in viability of agriculture as a profession. It was noted that farmers who practice integrated farming can be a signal for a greater policy emphasis for diversification toward these activities. Farmers need an improved availability of finances, inputs, information, and markets to benefit maximum from technological change and diversification. Since risk was identified as important reason for disliking farming, insurance agencies can target efforts to improve their outreach among smallholders.

Authors conclude that to improve viability of small-scale agriculture, investments and prioritization on climate smart agriculture interventions by the policymakers can be an important step towards improving the food security and rural livelihoods in addition to mitigating the climate impacts.

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40 per cent Indian farmers do not prefer farming as profession

Highlights of Recent IFPRI Food Policy Research in India

Source: (Flickr): Pallavi Rajkhowa, IFPRI
Source: (Flickr): Pallavi Rajkhowa, IFPRI

IFPRI began its enduring partnership with India nearly 40 years ago. In fact, IFPRI’s first Board of Trustees in 1975 included Vijay S. Vyas, Director of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India. IFPRI and India’s partnership played a particularly important role following the Green Revolution when that partnership analyzed the necessary policies to both promote domestic food production and to encourage farmers to adopt new rice and wheat varieties. IFPRI’s studies on the Green Revolution in India showed that agricultural growth had a strong impact on poverty alleviation and that further attention to agricultural growth was necessary to reduce poverty. In the late 1970s, amid stagnant food production, weather-related crop losses, and an ever-growing population, the Indian government sought food security solutions that extended beyond food aid; technology and rural development played leading roles in the IFPRI-India working relationship during that period.

During the 1980s, IFPRI’s research focused on India’s agricultural sector, particularly on agricultural growth linkages to the nonagricultural economy; the impact of high-yielding rice varieties in South India; and instability in foodgrains production, food subsidies, dairy development, and livestock demand. Research conducted during the 1990s included studies on topics such as public expenditure and poverty in rural India, incentives and constraints in the transformation of Indian agriculture, and high-value agriculture. Research topics since the 2000s have expanded to include malnutrition, public investment, climate change, value chains, capacity strengthening, and biofortification. As of 2015, the Institute has produced more than 450 publications on India’s food security and collaborates with dozens of Indian institutions.

IFPRI receives continuous financial and logistical support from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Department of Agricultural Research and Education within the government of India and works alongside dozens of research collaborators in the country. This brochure highlights some of the key collaborations between IFPRI and its Indian partners, describing recent and ongoing work.

Read more from the brochure

Benefits of Practicing Custom Hiring Services of Agricultural Machinery

Agriculture Machinery, Zamindara Farmsolutions,  Fazilka, Punjab. Source: Sunil Saroj, IFPRI
Agriculture Machinery, Zamindara Farmsolutions, Fazilka, Punjab. Source: Sunil Saroj, IFPRI

Over the years, agriculture mechanization has helped to increase production and profitability, improve the use of inputs, reduce the costs of production, and assist in income-building and employment opportunities. Punjab, characterized by smallholder farmers, is a highly mechanized state. Custom hiring services (CHS),  an important mechanism through which most small holders can access services of agricultural machinery.  CHS in the state not only help to generate non-farm income but also enable farmers to produce a second or multiple crops in a year, thus limiting the turnaround time and increasing productivity.

To understand the ongoing and successful models and challenges in CHS, IFPRI organized a 10-day study tour for a delegation from Nepal to visit Fazilka, Punjab and Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh from August 9 to 19, 2015. The aim was to explore the possibilities to replicate CHS models in agri-mechanization in Nepal.

In Fazilka, the group was introduced to the Chaalak Bane Maalik model created by Zamindara Farm. The model, which trains smallholder farmers to become machinery operators, results  in an increase in the social value of farmers as well as their economic status. Tata Chemicals in Aligarh, UP, showcased many ongoing CHS models.

After speaking with the Nepalese delegates, Babushahi, a regional newspaper, reports that the major agricultural problem in Nepal is the retention of interest in farming by farmers and their children. Lakshmi Kant Pandey, director of Global Food and Agri Business Advisory of Nepal, adds that the study tour has displayed many ways to make the agriculture industry more profitable and attractive. Now rural youth can choose to stay in their village and have a job with a satisfactory income.

The Nepalese delegates also interacted with farmers in Fazilka, Punjab. These farmers promote CHS to private companies, the government, and cooperatives. These entities seek to generate an understanding of the challenges faced by farmers and how farmers overcome it.

This initiative is a part of the ongoing USAID-sponsored Government of Nepal-IFPRI project on Policy Reform Initiative in Nepal.

In News

Zamindara Farm solutions impresses Nepalese team in custom hiring

Nepalese delegation visits Fazilka

Nine member delegation of Nepal Agri Research Council and Agri Engg Directorate visits Fazilka

Can Diversification Towards High Value Commodities Strike Gold For Farmers?

Farmer at Malda, West Bengal. Source: (Flickr): Divya Pandey, IFPRI
Farmer at Malda, West Bengal. Source: (Flickr): Divya Pandey, IFPRI

Konark Sikka former intern with IFPRI-South Asia office

Despite small land holding, agriculture’s falling share in national income, and limited scope of transfer of labor to non-farm sectors, agriculture still plays a significant role towards food security and poverty reduction. A recent IFPRI discussion paper on Agricultural Diversification and Poverty in India looks into hypothesis and assesses options for improving the outcomes of the farmers through crop diversification into high-value crops (HVCs) that boost incomes, generates employment, and reduce poverty. The estimates in the paper show that over 5 percent reduction in farm poverty in India can be achieved through crop diversification.

Overall, about 22 percent of farm households in India grow at least one HVC crop. In this study, the authors use Generalized Propensity Score Matching and Dose Response Functions to establish ranges within which crop diversification would effectively reduce poverty. The authors suggest that for marginal farmers, the allocation of land towards cultivation of HVCs needs to rise from the current rate of 39 to around 50 percent, in order to pull such farmers out of poverty. Expectedly, larger the land size, a smaller proportion of land allocated to high value crops is needed for this purpose.  However, increasing area need not be the only option with marginal farmers, since there often is an inverse relationship between farm size and productivity.

In moving towards HVCs, small and marginal farmers face several constraints such as lack of access to credit, input, seeds, high yielding varieties, technology and information, and limited markets in rural areas. For marketing their produce in urban areas they have to bear additional costs  for transporting.

Studies reveal that, with rise in income, urbanization, consumers preferences are shifting from cereals towards high value produce. With a rise in demand of HVC there is potentially a transformational shift of the agri-food marketing system that would involve movement towards  vertical coordination away from spot markets. Vertical coordination would be needed to improve  access to inputs, services, and output markets, and a reduction in marketing and transaction costs.

The authors conclude that diversifying crops with the cultivation of more high value commodities, which have a growing market in the urban areas of the country, could provide farmers with the much needed extra income. Contract farming will help in connecting small holder farmers in the supply chains that would enhance their livelihood.  Further they add, with better infrastructure and improved supply chain coordination, the same increase in income could also be achieved with lower levels of diversification.

 

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