Agriculture Agenda in Policy Corridors

Sunflower Field in Nawad, Bihar. Source: (flickr): Vartika Singh/IFPRI
Sunflower Field in Nawad, Bihar. Source: (flickr): Vartika Singh/IFPRI

The following post is by Mruthyunjaya H, former national director, NAIP

With new government in the policy corridors, immediate actions by them in the first 100 days, not only define measures for current key challenges but will also lays their future development pathways for the coming 1 year, 3 years and 5 years.

Over the years, agriculture has shown a promising growth with average 3.5 per cent growth as against the targeted 4 per cent per annum and have helped in reducing poverty. In the agriculture sector, the main thrust announced in the agenda by the new government is to bring back the profit in farming. Aiming towards this goal, the government plans to focus by, bringing in innovative ideas in technologies and efficient use of non-cultivable land. Increase in investment in agri-infrastructure, massive irrigation projects at the village level and inter-linkage of the rivers, are few of the government’s top priorities. The other suggestions included are to open up agricultural marketing, incentivise research and value chains, and reform rural schemes.

With limited cultivable land, the government also intends to adopt a land use policy which will facilitate scientific identification of non-cultivable land and its strategic development.

Prices has been the concern, the government has decided to address issues pertaining to pricing and procurement of agricultural produce, crop insurance, and post harvest management.

Taking the efforts forward, IGIDR and IFPRI plans to organize a two day workshop on ‘Harnessing Opportunities to Improve Agri-Food Systems’ to discuss the agricultural priority of the government and develop a road map to realize these priorities for improved agri-food systems on 24-25 July, 2014 in New Delhi.

Below is the outline to the workshop agenda

Priorities of new government in food and agriculture related issues

   Ensuring Sustainable Food production

    1. Managing fragmented land holdings and increasing agricultural productivity
    2. Expand irrigation for higher productivity
    3. Possible ‘yes’ for GM crops (positive towards GM crops)

Promoting healthy food system

  1. Food safety (regulations and implementations)
  2. Better governance and implementation of existing programs

 Improving markets and trade

  1. Control food inflation
  2. Incentives to states for adopting Model Market Act
  3. Development of agriculture information database (production, demand, prices and trade)
  4. Trade opportunities within South Asian countries and between South Asia and ASEAN
  5.  ‘No’ to FDI in multi-brand retail

Transforming agriculture

  1. Promote small & medium enterprises (SMEs)
  2. NREGA for rural development

Building resilience

  1. Innovative crop insurance scheme
  2. Agriculture income insurance Scheme
  3. Development with climate change

Strengthening institutions and governance

  1. Grain management (especially of rice and wheat): role of private sector from procurement to PDS
  2. Rationalize fertilizer subsidies

 

Agriculture Performance and its Prospects

Wheat Field in Nawad, Bihar. Source: (flickr) Vartika Singh
Wheat Field in Nawad, Bihar. Source: (flickr) Vartika Singh

The recent article in the June issue of Yojana Magazine, by P K Joshi and Anjani Kumar, IFPRI looks into the performance of agriculture and factors responsible for its growth and way forward. Agriculture has shown a promising growth over years with average 3.5 per cent growth as against the targeted 4 per cent per annum and have helped in reducing poverty. Impressive growth of livestock, fisheries and diversification towards high value also helped in increase in income of small farmers. Wide spread adoption of high yielding varieties, irrigation, fertilizers, rural credit and rise in literacy contributed to the growth but still a lot needs to be achieved for ensuring food and nutritional security. The author’s lists the need to bridge the yield gap to enhance agricultural output, such as investment in location specific research for technology development and adoption. Investment in less developed regions needs to be pushed, with policy measures such as land reforms, rural credit, and public investment. Effective coordination in research, education and extension will also help to enhance growth and reduce poverty.

Article in Yojana

Past, Present and the Future of Agriculture in India

Farmer offloading the produce at wholesale market in Lucknow.  Source:(flickr) Pallavi Rajkhowa/IFPRI
Farmer offloading the produce at wholesale market in Lucknow.
Source:(flickr) Pallavi Rajkhowa/IFPRI

With rising concern to meet the growing demand for diversified food of the increasing population, food security has been the top priority on the policy agenda. Over the years, despite the decline in its share in the gross domestic product, agriculture continues to be important in the Indian economy for food security, employment generation and poverty reduction.

In a recent IFPRI discussion paper on Changing Sources of Growth in Indian Agriculture, the authors have shown how the policy shift over the past three decades (1980/1981 to 2009/2010) have stimulated patterns and sources of agricultural growth in India and evaluated their implications for regional priorities for sustainable and inclusive growth.

Since 1995/96 policymakers have been targeting to achieve 4 percent growth for the agricultural sector, but it has been fluctuating over/under 3 percent since the last two decades. P S Birthal, principal scientist at the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP), highlights that in the 1980s technology was the main source of growth which was followed by crop diversification in the 1990s. The price effect that emerged as strong factor in the 1990s also faded in the following decade, with technology reemerging as an engine of growth in the 2000s.

Over the time it was observed that agricultural policies in India been cereal-centric especially towards wheat and rice. But with change in consumption pattern, income growth and improved infrastructure, the shift towards high value crops played an important role in cushioning agricultural growth. Examining spatial decompositions of growth - the northern region followed a technology-led growth path, while the western and southern regions relied more on diversification in their growth strategy.

Learning from the past, evaluating the present for the future food security of the country, the authors lists its analysis in the study under four dimensions-

  • With limited land available for cultivation, sustainable intensification and diversification of agriculture are the options to accelerate agricultural growth.
  •  Investment in agricultural research and strengthening of service delivery systems are crucial for future improvements in yields of  grains and horticultural crops.
  • With limited scope for sustaining price-led growth in long run, investments in markets, infrastructure such as roads are necessary to reduce marketing and transaction cost, thus directly benefiting the small farmers.
  • Opportunities for small-holder farmers to increase income and escape poverty lie in diversification towards high value crops.

IFPRI’s, P K Joshi, stresses that, “the sustainable agriculture growth must come from technological change and diversification towards high value crops. Dr. Joshi, emphasized that both central and state governments need to take corrective measures to increase investment in agriculture research, and create favorable business environment through enabling policies towards high value agriculture.”

Prioritizing Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) in South Asia- IFPRI and APAARI

Farmer at Naogaon, Bangladesh: Source: Flickr: Divya Pandey/IFPRI

Reducing food and nutrition insecurity in South Asia requires—among many other things— greater long-term investment in agricultural research for development (AR4D). In an effort to strengthen the capacity of research systems in South Asia to invest effectively in this area, IFPRI and the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI) collaborated with the national research systems of Bangladesh, India, and Nepal to closely example AR4D priorities in the region. The collaboration, carried out through a series of large-scale consultations and both country- and region-level analyses in 2012-13, highlights the urgent need for structural, institutional, and financial reforms throughout the region’s AR4D systems to accelerate inclusive growth and improve food security.

A recent policy brief resulting from this collaboration provides strategic insights that may help shape ongoing and future AR4D investments in the region—priorities that include more stable and longer-term spending on research by governments, reforms to the governance and management of research systems, stronger incentives for private sector participation, and increased cooperation between countries.

The brief also identifies major areas for reform, including a tripling AR4D spending from the present levels in all the countries, building partnerships and consortiums to intensify innovation in the agricultural sector, ensuring functional autonomy of national research systems through stronger policy support and de-bureaucratization, and strengthening human resources development with liberal funding and progressive training policies. The brief further points out the need for greater investment in research areas that are currently underrepresented in national and regional priorities, for example, natural resources management, value chain development, and the provision of farm inputs and services.

With greater, more stable, and longer-term commitments to AR4D, accompanied by significant systemic reforms and renewed priorities, governments, donors, entrepreneurs, and communities can do much to address the persistence food insecurity and poverty across South Asia. Stronger and more effective national research systems have a central role to play in this process.

Innovations in Agriculture: Agribusiness Investment in India

Global demand for food and the levelling off of crop productivity intensifies the need for agricultural innovations. Increasingly, India’s private agribusinesses are meeting that need, funding research and development (R&D) that’s resulted in farm machinery, pesticide, and biotechnology advancements.

Researchers in greenhouse
Source: Flickr (IRRI Images)
Keeping in mind the private sector’s success, the authors of Innovation and Research by Private Agribusiness in India, aim to strengthen future research by supplying India’s policymakers with quantifiable data and analyses on the:

  • Factors influencing the expansion of agribusiness spending
  • Impacts on production, poverty, health, and the environment
  • Amounts private companies are investing in R&D

Covered in the report are some of private sector’s gains in productivity and efficiency, like:

  • Cotton hybrids that now dominate the cotton seed market
  • Efficient micro-irrigation systems
  • Inexpensive small- and medium-sized tractors
  • Low-cost ways of producing generic pesticides

Download the full report: Innovation and Research by Private Agribusiness in India

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