Monthly Archive March 31, 2018

Byadmin

Kisan Mitra Helpline services launched in Mancherial district

https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Warangal-Tab/2018-03-31/Kisan-Mitra-Helpline-services-launched-in-Mancherial-district/370675
The Hans India null 31 March 2018 8:35 AM HIGHLIGHTS
District Collector R V Karnan launched the Kisan Mitra Helpline portal at a function held here on Thursday.  ​Mancherial: District Collector R V Karnan launched the Kisan Mitra Helpline portal at a function held here on Thursday. The performance of the portal in Adilabad and Nizamabd district was successful, he said giving reasons for launching the same in Mancherial district. Using the helpline services, the morale of the farmers should be boosted when disappointed, he said. Agriculture officer at district level and Mandal Parishad Development Officer would officiate as nodal officers for the helpline service. Also Read – Cadre betting big on their leaders’ victory in Adilabad Advertise With Us He asked officials to strive to make Mancherial district is free from suicides by responding to the problems of farmers using the helpline service. The farmers should convey their problems to the helpline service using the toll-free number 1800 120 3244. The helpline service will remain operational daily from 8 am to 8 pm. Later, Karnan released a poster on dairy development scheme of the lead bank and also a poster on spurious seeds. Bellampalli sub-collector Rahul Raj, farmers coordination committee district convener M Guravaiah, District Agriculture officer Vinod Kumar, DRDA project officer Sankar and others took part in the programme.

Byadmin

The Indian Organic Market A New Paradigm in Agriculture

The Indian Organic Market A New Paradigm in Agriculture
Ernest and Young, 2018
Agriculture has been practiced for centuries, and like any socio-economic or political
system that has stood the test of time, it is a product of the circumstances in which it
exists. In other words, it has undergone extreme changes to keep up with the opportunities,
requirements and challenges of the changing world. For thousands of years, agriculture
was practiced without the use of artificial substances. However, strides taken in science
and technology culminated in the intensification of conventional agriculture for increased
productivity. The increased use of synthetic substances met with fierce criticism and gave
birth to multiple organic farming movements across the world. Organic agriculture (OA) is
defined by the IFOAM as “a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems
and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local
conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic Agriculture combines
tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair
relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.”(1) In other words, organic products
offer more social, economic, cultural, political and environmental benefits in the long run
than conventional products.
The categorization of a product as organic implies two main things: First, it is free from
toxic persistent pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones and antibiotics or
genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Second, stringent organic cultivation standards
are followed, with respect to impact on soil, water and air. These value chain considerations
have resulted in organic products emerging as the perceived responsible choice among
consumers. Resultantly, the market for organic products has grown remarkably since the
1990s. The global market for organic products is growing faster (CAGR 16%) than the
global markets for conventional products (CAGR 10%) (7). This differential growth rate is
observed in multiple market segments, including food and beverages, textiles, health and
wellness, and beauty and personal care among others. The rapid growth of the organic
market can be attributed to various factors. The increasing emphasis on good health,
proliferation of consumption-related ailments, an increased awareness regarding the health
benefits of organic products among consumers, enhanced income levels and standard of
living, together with government initiatives aimed at promoting organic products are key
drivers of this exponential market expansion.
Organic farming is practiced with varying levels of success in 178 countries (2). However,
the North American and European Union regions (as single markets) generate the bulk
of the global sales. The global sales increased to US$89.7 billion in 2016 from US$7.9
billion in 2000 (2). Country wise, the top consumers of organic products are the US (US$43.1
billion), followed by Germany (US$10.5 billion) and France (US$7.5 billion) (2). The increase
in demand has led to a considerable increase in the area subject to organic management
techniques globally, surging from 11 million ha in 1999 to 57.8 million ha in 2016 (2). The
wild harvest and other non-agriculture organic collection area also increased to 39.9
million ha in 2016 from 4.1 million ha in 1999 (2). The three countries with the largest area
under organic cultivation are Australia (27.1 million ha), followed by Argentina (3.0 million
ha) and China (2.3 million ha) (2). The three countries with the largest wild harvest area for
organic products are Finland (11.6 million ha), followed by Zambia (6.7 million ha) and
India (4.2 million ha) (2). In addition to ranking third in wild harvest area, India also houses the highest number of organic producers globally with 835,000 organic farmers (2). It also ranks ninth in terms of
area under organic cultivation with 1.49 million ha (2).  Therefore, it occupies a robust position
in producing organic products, having already exported 1.35 million MT of certified organic
food products worth INR1,937 crore in 2015-16 (3). The exports are largely concentrated
around the US, Europe (EU), Canada, Japan and the West Asian markets. India is the largest
exporter of organic cotton worldwide. In the food market segment, oilseeds comprised half of India’s overall organic food export, followed by processed food products at 25% (4). The current Indian
organic market is estimated at INR 40,000 million and is likely to increase to INR100,000–120,000 million
by 2020 with a similar incremental trend in exports (5). Indian organic market has been progressing steadily
with CAGR of 25% as compared to 16% global growth rates (4, 2). However, despite the promising performance
in terms of exports, the local consumption of organic produce is still at a nascent stage with a market share
of less than 1% and per capita consumption at only EURO.1 (2)
The organic sector in India, albeit comparatively new, possesses inherent strengths that can be
leveraged, and the current context in which it thrives offers many opportunities that can be utilized. The
agricultural policy of India has gradually shifted from espousing a production-centric approach to a more
holistic approach. This approach, in addition to focusing on increased productivity, factors in climatic
considerations, nutritional concerns, environmental impact and standard of living of the stakeholders. The
shortcomings of conventional products in relation to these considerations create a lacuna, which is being
leveraged to promote organic agriculture. The Government has sanctioned several schemes to incentivize
organic farming and many state governments are creating individual policies for the same. In addition to
the Government’s increasing interest in the sector, private sector actors too have expressed their interest
by increasing investments in the sector. In addition to this, the demand for organic products is increasing
steadily as is the level of interest that Indian farmers have expressed in making the shift to organic farming.
Despite the enabling environment created by a culmination of the aforementioned factors, there exist
several challenges for all the stakeholders involved at every stage of the value chain. Producers of organic
products are continually struggling to optimize the scale of their operations while maintaining profitability.
This is primarily because of the gaps in the regulatory framework for organic products in India. In addition
to the procedural challenges pertaining to certification and quality assurance, the increasing costs of
inputs and the elongated conversion period from conventional to organic farming are a few of the key
challenges faced by the producers, most of whom are small or marginal farmers. The processors of organic
food products on the other hand, face significant resistance in the form of lack of adequate post harvest
facilities for organic products. Several measures need to be taken in order to avoid contamination and
cross-contamination of the produce and the infrastructural capabilities of the country often prove to be
inadequate. The marketing of organic produce comes with its own set of challenges related to global
competitiveness and differences in global and national quality standards. Although there has been a marked
improvement in the level of awareness regarding organic products, many consumers are unaware of its
benefits thereby providing no incentives for increased supply and resulting in organic products being priced
higher than their conventional variants.
An analysis of the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats pertaining to the organic sector in
India calls for the development of a public-private partnership model that aids the sector in reaching its full
potential. A greater emphasis should be placed on the capacity building of stakeholders, easing access to
finance, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of all assets and processes as well as research and development
to help keep abreast with global progress in the sector. Additionally, there has emerged an urgent need for
infrastructural development and business climate reforms, reinvention of branding and marketing strategies
and entrepreneurship development.
This paper provides a comprehensive overview of the organic market in India with the aim of identifying the
key areas of intervention. It situates the Indian organic sector in the broader context of the global organic
sector while identifying trends, key drivers of growth, challenges and opportunities. The paper also puts
forth various solutions to the problems identified and in keeping in mind the global and national objectives
of environmental protection, food security and sustainability.
References

  1. “Cultivating Changes,” IFOAM website, https://www.ifoam.bio/en/organic-landmarks/definition-organic-agriculture accessed 16 March 2018
  2. The World of Organic Agriculture Statistics and Emerging Trend 2018, FiBL and IFOAM – Organics International FIBL & IFOAM website https://shop.fibl.org/CHen/mwdownloads/download/link/id/1093/?ref=1 accessed on March 10. 2018
  3. APEDA. http://apeda.gov.in/apedawebsite/organic/Organic_Products.htm accesses on March 10, 2018
  4. India Organic Food Market Forecast and Opportunities, 2020. August 2015. Tech Sci Research. https://www.techsciresearch.com/report/india-organicfood-market-forecast-and-opportunities-2020/449.html accesses on March 10, 2018
  5. Dilip Kr. Jha. India to treble export of organic products by 2020. Business Standard, April 27, 2017 website http://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/india-to-treble-export-of-organic-porducts-by-2020-117042600455_1.html accesses on March 10, 2018
Byadmin

Land Reforms Have Failed, Formalising Tenancy Only Option To Address Farm Distress’

New Delhi: In the last 10 months, farmers across the country have staged half a dozen large protests. On March 12, 2018, 35,000 farmers from all over Maharashtra walked 180 km over seven days to reach Mumbai and demand land titles, better prices for agricultural produce and farm loans. In July 2017, farmers from Tamil Nadu had protested in Delhi with skulls hanging from their necks to demand a loan waiver after the state was hit by a drought. In June 2017, Madhya Pradesh farmers had dumped milk, fruits and vegetables on the roads.
These protests are signs of an agrarian crisis: Farmers are stuck in a cycle of low returns, debt–and, often, death–at a time of increasingly uncertain weather. In a year to June 2013, 70% of Indian farm families reported having spent more than they had earned; and more than 52% said they were indebted and health costs were adding to their debt, IndiaSpend reported on June 27, 2017. In five years to 2015-16, real farm income per cultivator increased only 0.44% per year, our report of July 18, 2017 showed.
Of the issues driving down the country’s farm sector, tenancy is one of the foremost. An age-old, widespread practice in India, tenancy usually involves a landless farmer or holder of a small piece of land leasing land for cultivation. However, since the landlord is typically wealthier and more powerful, the practice is often exploitative, and has been the target of land reforms since Independence. Although tenancy was abolished or restricted in most states during the 1950s and 1960s, state government failed to redistribute land among the landless. Despite land ceiling drives, tenancy continued to grow covertly and informally, leaving tenants vulnerable.
In 2016, NITI Aayog, the policy think-tank of the Government of India, proposed a Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act, which aimed to “liberalize” the country’s tenancy system, arguing that it would actually benefit small farmers and improve the country’s agricultural productivity. Many states have framed laws on the lines of this model, which was drafted by NITI Aayog’s special cell on land policy headed by Tajamul Haque, a former chairperson of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, former professor at the National Centre for Agricultural Economics & Policy Research, and ex-director of the National Institute of Rural Development. In an interview with IndiaSpend, Haque discussed the model law and how its implementation can benefit all stakeholders.
What does the Model Agricultural Land Leasing Act prescribe? How would it help tenants?
The model law is intended to liberalise and legalise the land leasing system in the country. Most of the states passed their tenancy laws in the ‘60s and ‘70s, which were highly restrictive. Some of the states banned leasing altogether. For instance, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir do not allow land leasing. Other states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh allow only certain categories of people to give land on lease, for example the disabled, widow, minors, etc. Karnataka does not even allow these categories of people to lease out their land, the state only allowed people in services for instance: soldiers to lease their land.
In Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat, the governments have not banned leasing but at the same time, there are certain provisions in these states which make the option of leasing as good as prohibited. For example, in Andhra Pradesh, if an owner wants to end leasing and take the land from the tenant for personal cultivation, then the owner will have to leave at least 50% of the land with the tenant. Now, no owner would want to lease the land with these restrictions. Similarly, some states prescribe that if a tenant has been cultivating the land for more than the prescribed period of time, the tenant then has the right to occupy the land. The Zamindari Abolition Act of Uttar Pradesh [intended to remove an oppressive land-leasing system], for instance, also had a possession clause which said that if a tenant continued to cultivate a piece of land for over 12 years, s/he would be eligible to occupy that land. These clauses instill a fear in the owner’s mind against the leasing of land.
As a result, people let their land remain fallow, which affects the agricultural productivity of the country. Currently, 25 million hectares of land in the country are lying fallow largely because owners are not leasing them out due to restrictive clauses. If you assume that one hectare produces two tonnes of grain, with 25 million hectares lying fallow, the country is losing 50 million tonnes of grain.
So with the model land leasing act, we tried to remove all these restrictions. If an owner, out of lack of interest, lack of money to invest or other reasons, does not want to cultivate the land, s/he can choose to lease it out to some landless cultivator and benefit from the rent rather than keeping the land fallow for fear of losing it.
The tenant and the owner can mutually agree upon the rent and period of leasing and come up with a written contract, which should be attested by a person in a position of responsibility–such as the gram pradhan (village head), an advocate or a revenue officer–to make the leasing legal. They need not go to any revenue office or administrative department.
This formal signed document will do two things; first, it will assure the owner that the land is safe. Second, it will make a tenant-farmer eligible for government subsidies, insurance, disaster relief and credit schemes, because for the first time the tenant will have a document to prove that s/he is cultivating the land.
Tenant farmers have long been denied the right to even sell their farm produce in government agricultural produce markets where they can get better prices; they have to go through intermediaries and end up losing a lot of their profits. Now, if tenancy is legalized through a contract, the tenant farmer would be able to sell in these markets.
The model land leasing law, if applied, will not only help increase the income and productivity of tenant farmers’ land significantly, it will also help overall agricultural growth while helping the government double farmers’ income.
How many states have adopted the model law or amended their land laws on the lines of the model law?
Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh have amended their land laws. Uttarakhand has done it quite comprehensively, whereas Uttar Pradesh has just deleted the clause which allowed the tenant to occupy land after operating on it for more than 12 years. It has also included a range of people–business people, traders, people in services, members of legislative assembly or parliament–who would now be eligible to lease out their land along with the disabled. It is a big relief, but there is one thing they should not have done, which is prescribing a maximum lease period of three years. It should have been left for the owner to decide.
Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have passed a new law on the lines of our model law. They have also added a penalty clause that if the tenant does not return the land after the lease period is over, s/he could be punished with imprisonment.
Would these formal leases have to be recorded with a government agency/department?
In our model law, we said the agreement between the tenant and the owner need not be recorded or registered with the revenue department; that would make the process complex. It also becomes a cause for fear in the owner’s head that their land is registered in revenue records under a lease and tomorrow a new law could come and prescribe that the tenant would have right over the land.
Hence, we suggested that the agreement be a simple written document attested by a person in a position of responsibility, for example the gram pradhan (village head), an advocate or a revenue officer. The government does not need to interfere. This document alone would be enough to make the lease formal and legal.
Once the period of the lease is over, the land will by default go back into the owner’s possession. Nobody needs to go to any office to take possession back.
Now, some states are prescribing the timeline of leases between three and six years, but that is not the correct way to do it. You see, if a tenant farmer is cultivating horticulture crops such as fruit, it could take more than a decade for the crop to be completely ready. Now, if the owner is willing to allow the tenant farmer to cultivate for a longer period of time, why are the states saying that it should be three years or six years? The owner and the tenant should be left to decide if the lease is for 10 years, or 20 years.
There are good examples also. Uttarakhand with its new law allows the leases to last for a maximum of 30 years, which is very reasonable.
If the government is not involved, do you not think it leaves a chance for financial exploitation of the tenant?
The chances of a tenant being financially exploited are very low. I do not think that the government protects the tenants, anyway. There are fair chances that if a tenant is going to a revenue officer to seek help, he would end up losing more money in bribes. The lesser the dependency on government bodies for this kind of contract, the better the chances of the contract being honoured by both the tenant and the owner.
In fact, if any such issue arises, we suggested that the gram panchayat (village council) should solve these amicably because the panchayat knows the reality about the land, the crop and the people involved.
Why do you think land redistribution has failed?
Out of the 5.1 million acres of land redistributed, about 21% is in West Bengal alone. Also, 60% of the total number of beneficiaries who received land in redistribution are in the state of West Bengal. So, West Bengal is actually the only state which, somewhat successfully, implemented the land ceiling and redistribution laws. Bihar also took some steps but all other big states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh failed in redistribution of land.
This is partly because in the past when the time was right, the state governments did not have the willpower to do it and the committed bureaucracy was not there. Another reason was that Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar implemented land ceiling laws along with laws abolishing intermediaries as early as the 1950s, but all the other states implemented these laws very late, in the 1960s and 1970s. By that time all the landlords were alert and had transferred their land under different names, which became a reason for the failure of land reforms in many states.
If we talk about the present scenario of land reforms in the country, the situation is not really good: nearly two lakh hectares of land–together comprising an area larger than Delhi–are under prolonged litigation, so unless this land is free, there is no hope. Currently there is only one state, West Bengal, which is still redistributing small chunks of land to the landless, but nothing is happening in any other Indian state.
On the one hand, 101.4 million–or 56.4%–rural households own no agricultural land and on the other, redistribution of land is failing. What could be the solution?
The model tenancy act will prove to be really helpful if implemented by states. The leasing act will improve landless poor people’s access to land. It will help small and marginal farmers to increase the size of their holdings.
Currently, the landless are not getting any land under most state governments’ land reforms, so if they at least make the leasing formal and legal, the landless would be enabled to access the land with a secure contract. This is the only hope, as of today, and will certainly help landless people improve their economic condition.
More than 50% of India’s workforce is still involved in agriculture with low levels of living and low levels of income. They are stuck in a poverty trap. Once this legal framework of leasing is implemented by all the states, we will see a big transformative change in the agriculture sector.
2017 study by the think-tank Global Land Alliance found that nearly one in five rural persons having a separate plot of agricultural land are worried about losing the land, and that tenants are twice as likely as owners to be worried about losing their home. What steps should the country take to make people feel secure about their property rights? Would digitization of land documents help?
If states legalise tenancy, it will really help in addressing the fear among owners and tenants of losing their land. The model land leasing act protects the proprietorship of the owner but at the same time provides tenure-related security to the tenant.
The second thing that India needs to do is to move away from presumptuous land titles. Currently, all the land registrations in India are registrations of deeds, these are not proof that you are the actual owner of the land which is registered in your name; it can be contested, causing a dispute. But under conclusive land titles, once the registration takes place the curtain falls, the land is yours, and it cannot be contested by another person. [In the Indian system, land ownership is presumptive. Currently, under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, the right or title to land can be transferred or sold only through a registered document (registered under the Registration Act, 1908). The registration of land or property therefore refers to the registration of the transaction (“sale deed”), and not the land title. Therefore, a registered sale deed is not a government guarantee of land ownership; even bona fide property transactions may not always guarantee ownership as a previous transfer of the property could be challenged. The onus of verifying past ownership records is on the buyer, and not the registrar.]
But for India to assure conclusive land titles, it will have to amend a couple of laws. The Registration Act and the Indian Evidence Act [which contains rules for providing evidence in court] will have to be amended on priority. But unless two or more states request the central government, it cannot do that because land is a state subject.
Continuously updating land records, their digitization, followed by conclusive land titles should take care of the fear that Indian landowners have today.
Some 13.65% of India’s farm households–one in seven–were tenants, according to a 2013 National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) study. This implies there were 21.29 million tenant-farmers cultivating about 10.66 million hectares of land in 2012-13, as per a February 2018 study by Bhubaneshwar-based Center For Land Governance. The Agriculture Census 2010-11, on the contrary, states that 2.39% of farmers take land on lease for cultivation. Which data set shows the true picture and why is there so much difference?
The difference in the data is because of two primary reasons. Agriculture data does not present correct data on tenancy because it is based on land records. Since tenancy is not recorded, it is not fairly represented in the agriculture census data. NSSO data is based on household surveys. Someone physically goes to individual households to collect information, hence there is comparatively better representation of tenancy. But it may also not be the complete picture because due to tenancy being an illegal activity in many states, people will not reveal if they have informally leased land to cultivate.
(Tripathi is a principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)
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