Monthly Archive July 26, 2019

Byadmin

Restrictions on Glyphosate sales in Telangana

Telangana Govt issued guidelines restricting the sale and use of Glyphosate herbicide in Telangana.

  • No Glyphosate formulation can be sold in the state till 30th October as no approvals are given by CBRC
  • Between November and May farmers can use Glyphosate in non cropped areas but sale is permitted only on specific recommendation of the authorised officer (ADAs/MAOs)
  • No retailer can sell any of the Glyphosate formulation without a recommendation slip from extension personnel
  • Extension personal should take responsibility of educating the farmers not to use Glyphosate in any crop
  • The Department of agriculture has to monitor and report any unauthorised sale/use. any failure to regulate will call for stringent action against the local ADAs/MAOs.

G.O. Rt No. 273 Dated 26.07.2019 (Glyphosate Formulations)

Byadmin

Economic Survey indicates agrarian crisis brewing in Andhra Pradesh

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2019/jul/13/economic-survey-indicates-agrarian-crisis-brewing-in-andhra-pradesh-2003301.html
AP SocioEconomicalSurvey 2018-19
Even though agriculture sub-sector registered negative growth, agriculture broad sector, which includes allied sectors, managed 10.78 per cent growth, with better performance of fisheries, livestock.
A farmer prepares his land for farming ahead of the Monsoon at Undavalli near Vijayawada.

A farmer prepares his land for farming ahead of the Monsoon at Undavalli near Vijayawada. (File Photo | P Ravindra Babu, EPS)

Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: The Socio-Economic Survey 2018-19 unveiled by the State government on Friday, indicated that a crisis is brewing in the agriculture-driven Andhra Pradesh.
ALSO READ: Andhra CM Jagan keeps promise to farmers, gives Rs 28,866 crore boost
Contrary to the tall claims made in the past, the growth rate of agriculture sub-sector (without allied sectors) nosedived by 9.83 per cent. While deficit rainfall was identified as one of the major reasons for it, the fall in cultivation area of food grains, and thereby agricultural production, also contributed to negative growth.

According to the survey, the area under food grains is estimated at 40.26 lakh hectares in 2018-19 as against 42.06 lakh hectares in 2017-18, showing a decrease of 4.27 per cent. This is particularly because of a decline in the area of cultivation of paddy and major millets. “The total production of food grains in 2018-19 is estimated at 151.12 lakh tonnes while it was 167.22 lakh tonnes the previous year, thereby showing a decrease of 9.63 per cent,” the survey explained.


This is a sharp decline considering that the Socio-Economic Survey 2017-18 said that the area under food grains increased by 2.57 per cent from 39.7 lakh to 40.7 lakh hectares. The food grain production also shot up by 5.65 per cent in 2017-18. In 2018-19, the cropping intensity too has marginally declined to 1.24 from 1.26 the previous year.
Similarly, the gross irrigated area decreased to 36.45 lakh hectares in 2018-19 from 37.3 lakh hectares the previous year. The net area irrigated in the State stands at 28.06 lakh hectares.
Even though agriculture sub-sector registered negative growth, agriculture broad sector, which includes allied sectors, managed 10.78 per cent growth, thanks to better performance of fisheries, horticulture and livestock.
For the record, Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy too, after releasing a white paper on State finances on Wednesday, pointed out that the agriculture sub-sector witnessed a negative growth contrary to the TDP’s claims that it registered a massive growth rate.
To help the farming community, the survey observed that the present government had taken ‘landmark’ decisions such as YSR Rythu Bharosa, YSR Crop Insurance, YSR interest-free loans and others.
Further, contradicting the Finance Minister’s remarks made during his budget speech on Friday that the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) has not grown as is claimed by the previous TDP regime and that the present government is still ascertaining if the figures posted by the earlier government were real or hypothetical, the Socio-Economic Survey put the GSDP growth at 11.02 percent.
The survey painted a positive picture with respect to job creation. It said 49,406 jobs were created in Information Technology and electronics sectors with a cumulative investment of Rs 1,427 crore. In the industrial sector, the survey said, “During 2018-19, 44 large and mega industrial projects were established with an investment of Rs 16,925.08 crore, providing employment to 14,130 people. Similarly, 10,068 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) were established, providing employment to 93,240 with an investment of Rs 3,443.57 crore.”
However, the rate of unemployment in Andhra Pradesh still remains a problem, even though it is lesser than the national average. The survey, which takes the periodic labour force survey (PLFS) 2017-18 as an indicator, said that in rural Andhra Pradesh the unemployment rate increased from 1.2 per cent to 3.6 per cent between 2011-12 and 2017-18. In the same period, the unemployment rate in urban areas increased from 4.3 per cent to 6.6 per cent. “The female unemployment is a bigger concern in urban areas as it is almost three times higher than in rural areas,” the survey cautioned.

Byadmin

Statewise Report Cards on Ecological Sustainability of Agriculture in India

https://www.epw.in/journal/2019/26-27/review-rural-affairs/statewise-report-cards-ecological-sustainability.html

The dependence of agriculture on natural resources requires sustainable management of these resources for risk mitigation and management, particularly in the context of increasing farmer distress and vulnerability to risks associated with climate change. Using a framework of indicators in the domains of pest management, fertiliser use, soil health, water conservation, biodiversity, and efficient use of inputs, statewise report cards on ecological sustainability of agriculture are provided. There is much variation in the sustainability of production practices across the country, with some states characterised by high use of pesticides, low soil organic content, depletion of groundwater levels, low crop diversity, high energy use, and widespread nitrate contamination of groundwater.
The authors thank Joel Schwartz, Julie Lauren, Parthiba Basu and N Raghuram for their valuable insights. They would also like to acknowledge the financial support provided by the Fogarty International Center at the US National Institutes of Health, GeoHealth Hub Research and Capacity Building Program.
Agricultural productivity has increased dramatically in India over the past 50 years. Grain production has kept pace with the increasing population, with yields of rice and wheat exceeding current consumption (Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare 2017) and requirements for buffer stocks (Hussain 2018). Despite this unprecedented rise in food crop production, agriculture in India is in crisis. The past year has seen an eruption of farmers’ protests, with Gaon Bandh (Hindu 2018), Kisan Long March (Dhawale 2018) and Kisan Mukti March (Jeelani 2018) receiving widespread media coverage. Increasing input costs, decreasing returns and increasing cost of living (Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare 2017) have together led to low per capita income, high indebtedness, high poverty rate and high levels of agrarian distress as is evident in such mass protests. To address this issue, the government had set a goal of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 (Chand 2017), leading to much discussion on the economic crisis and solutions thereof.
An important and often overlooked aspect of the current crisis in India is the ecological sustainability of agriculture. Agriculture, by its very nature, is dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services. Thus, any plan for sustainable development in the agricultural sector must be cognisant of the need to preserve such natural resources as soil, arable land and water.
The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including, “Zero Hunger” (Goal 2), which India has committed itself to achieving, recognise the need for sustainable production practices in agriculture while “doubling the productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers,” aiming to

ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality. (SDGs 2015)

To alleviate farmers’ distress, it is crucial to manage the risks involved in production.1 A holistic approach to risk management needs to go beyond insuring for production loss, towards prevention. In recent years, there has been a fall in groundwater levels across the country, reduced crop diversity, increased incidence of pests and disease and increased soil degradation (Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare 2017), all of which contribute to an increased risk of production loss. Consecutive droughts in Maharashtra, for example, where groundwater sources have dried up in water-intensive sugar cane cultivated areas, partly due to high extraction for irrigation, have impacted not only the sustainability of agriculture in the region, but have also compounded social distress (Chitnis 2018).
Traditionally, the primary metric of success in agriculture has been crop yields. However, M S Swaminathan’s fifth and final report (2006) of the National Commission on Farmers (NCF) called for a shift away from this metric towards a new metric—net farmer income—as the primary indicator of agricultural success. We pose that it is also high time we consider the ecological dimension of farming as a preventative measure against farmer distress. It needs to be taken into account that there are natural limitations on increasing agricultural productivity, like the availability of soil, soil nutrients, water and energy for irrigation. Hence, all initiatives in agriculture—whether they be investments, incentives or regulations to encourage or discourage particular agricultural products, processes or practices—should consider dimensions of ecological sustainability, so to preserve natural resources for long-term use and promote farmer and environmental health.
Agricultural practices vary significantly across India, partly driven by eco-regional variations (Sehgal et al 1990). However, with agriculture being a state subject, state policies can have a large influence on production and sustainability. This creates a need for measuring sustainability at the state level for targeted policy action. This article is a first attempt to use existing, publicly available data reported by various departments of the Government of India to quantify, statewise, the ecological impacts of agriculture in India. Whilst we recognise that agriculture broadly encompasses crops, livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry, the focus of this article will be limited to cropping systems.
Theoretical Framework
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN has been tasked with measuring progress against SDG 2.4.1 (sustainable food production systems). In fulfilling this task, it has recently published a literature review, which summarises the “existing frameworks and methods for measuring and monitoring sustainable agriculture” (FAO 2017a). The FAO has compiled a list of 24 indicators of ecological sustainability, summarised in Table 1.

Based on this systematic review, the FAO has decided on the following individual indicators to evaluate progress on SDG 2.4.1. (FAO 2017b):
(i) In the domain of soil health: farm area affected by soil degradation.
(ii) In the domain of water conservation: inter-annual groundwater level detected over last five years.
(iii) In the domain of water conservation: nitrogen concentration in rivers and aquifers.
(iv) In the domain of biodiversity: Shannon Evenness Index2 above 0.3, average patch size lower than 2 hectare (ha) and edge density below 0.01.
Ideally, farm-level surveys will be used to collect these data and are aggregated at the country level. However, the methodological framework written for the indicator suggests that a combination of existing national data sets and remote-sensing satellite data may also be used for country-level reporting (FAO 2017b). It remains unclear how India’s SDG 2.4.1. indicators will be calculated and whether state-level calculations will be made. Moreover, these four individual indicators fail to capture key domains of ecological sustainability especially relevant to the Indian context like pest management and efficient use of inputs. Thus, we have proposed an expanded model.
Selection of Indicators
We identified data in India that matched the indicators in Table 1 and met the following criteria: (i) publicly available, (ii) state level, and (iii) periodically updated. Of the seven domains, we were able to identify suitable indicators for all but one, “Quality of Food.” We included an overarching indicator, the existence of a sustainable/natural/organic farming policy. Such a policy can be considered an important step in building a policy framework that is cognisant of agriculture’s dependence and impact on natural resources. In sum, we included 11 indicators in the state-wise report cards across six of seven domains. The rationale for each is provided in this section, whereas the source of the data is described in the following section.
In the domain of “Pest Management,” we used per hectare use of pesticides (kg/ha) as the indicator. A major limitation of our chosen indicator is that it is non-specific, and pesticides have a wide range of toxicities, mobility and persistence. Moreover, these data are self-reported at point of sale by pesticide dealers and therefore are likely to be underestimates. Nonetheless, this indicator is highly relevant to the Indian context because research suggests that environmental samples are highly contaminated with pesticides (Sharma et al 2014) and the cultivated area treated with pesticides is increasing (Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare 2016). Chemical pollution of water, land and air; the accumulation of persistent pollutants in biological systems; and loss of biodiversity are the direct ecological consequences of today’s industrialised agriculture system. Over the past 50 years, the species richness of pollinators has declined with a few pollinators even going extinct, a trend at least partially due to increased use of insecticides (Goulson et al 2015). The production of pesticides is also an energy-intensive process, having significant indirect effects on the environment through greenhouse gas emissions (Audsley et al 2009).
In the domain of “Fertiliser Use,” per hectare use of farm yard manure was used as the indicator.3 Availability of soil nutrients is a natural limiting factor of agricultural productivity, creating a dependency on synthetic fertiliser to maintain high yield. Such fertilisers are energy-intensive to produce, contributing to global warming. However, a majority of landholdings in India are small or marginal (Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare 2016) and the country is home to one of the largest populations of cattle and buffaloes in the world (FAOSTAT 2016b). Together, this creates a huge potential for meeting soil nutrient requirements through efficient use of farm yard manure. Waste from cattle available on farms can be efficiently processed into biogas and slurry to be used as manure. This reduces emissions through decomposition and dependency on firewood or cooking gas while providing manure for plant growth. Although adoption of such practices is rapidly increasing, data on the extent is currently unavailable, so per hectare use of farm yard manure was chosen as an indicator. Farm yard manure has beneficial impacts on soil organic carbon (Purakayastha et al 2008) and overall soil health, and the use of farm yard manure can also reduce dependency on expensive inputs such as synthetic fertiliser with co-benefits for the environment (Schröder 2005). The Input Survey, conducted every five years by the Government of India, is a valuable source of information on the farm-level use of synthetic and organic fertilisers. We only included per hectare use of farm yard manure from the Input Survey. We did not include the use of green manure nor the use of synthetic fertilisers as indicators for this study because: (i) only 1% of total landholdings sampled across India used green manure (Agriculture Census 2016),4 and (ii) synthetic fertiliser use recommendations vary depending on the cropping pattern and specific nutrient deficiencies of any given plot of soil.
In the domain of “Soil Health,” we used two indicators:
(i) soil organic carbon and (ii) percent agricultural land undergoing desertification/degradation. As the primary source of nutrients for crops, healthy soil is an essential component of agriculture, as having healthy foods is essential for human health. The measurement of soil quality is complex and involves various chemical, physical and biological indicators. The first of our chosen indicators, soil organic carbon, is one of the most important components of soil (USDA 2009). It is a source of energy for soil microorganisms and plants and increases nutrient and moisture retention capacity of the soil (Cornell University Cooperative Extension 2016). High soil organic carbon indicates higher microbe diversity, which may improve crops’ resistance to pests and disease (USDA 2009). Moreover, soil organic carbon plays an important direct role in climate change mitigation: well-managed soil can be an important carbon sink (USDA 2001). While there are state-level data available on soil pH, soil N:P:K ratio and soil micronutrients, we chose not to include these indicators because it is difficult to interpret them without information on the cropping patterns and nutritional deficiencies of any given plot of soil.
Closely related to declines in soil organic carbon is land degradation, defined as, “the temporary or permanent decline in the productive capacity of the land and the diminution of the productive potential” (Stocking 2001). This is relevant in the Indian context because an estimated 29% (ISRO 2016) of the total land area of the country is undergoing degradation or desertification, with important implications for the sustainability of current agricultural practices. We selected the overall indicator of agricultural land classified as “degraded.” More specific data on land degradation due to soil salinity are also available at the state level, but all states had degradation due to salinity levels less than 1% of total land area, with the exception of Gujarat at 4% (ISRO 2016).
In the domain of “Water Conservation,” we used three indicators: (i) percent groundwater development, (ii) percent wells classified as “safe,” and (iii) percent districts with nitrate concentration above permissible limits. As per the 2010–11 Agriculture Census, only 46% of cultivated area in India was irrigated, with 62% of irrigated area fed by groundwater, the rest being fed mostly by canals (25%) and tanks (6%). Yet, nearly 90% of extracted groundwater in India is used for irrigation, compared to just 9% for domestic and industrial use (CGWB 2017a). The Water Resources Institute reports that 54% of groundwater sources in India have decreasing water levels (Shiao 2015). Many states provide highly subsidised or free electricity for agriculture and some also subsidise drilling for new wells. Improvements in technology like cheap and easily accessible solar panels (Gulati and Pahuja 2012) will make it more difficult for the government to regulate exploitation of groundwater resources. Hence, it is crucial to monitor year-on-year depletion of aquifers and implement an effective water management strategy.
Groundwater development is defined as the current annual groundwater draft divided by the net annual groundwater availability, expressed as a percent (CGWB 2015). Groundwater development is a year-on-year measurement and can signal changes in groundwater use. The Groundwater Board of India measures the depth of blocks/watersheds/mandals/talukas/firkas across the country. The natural recharge capacity of these units is used to determine the quantity of water that is safe for extraction during a year. Units are considered “safe” if the stage of groundwater development is no more than 90% and there has been no significant decline in pre- or post-monsoon levels over the past 10 years. “Significant” decline is defined by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) as a decline in water level of 10–20 cm per year over a 10-year period (CGWB 2015). A lower percentage of groundwater sources being classified as “safe” indicates poor long-term performance.
The FAO-SDG measurement of sustainability considers nitrogen levels in groundwater as an indicator of water quality and sustainability. High levels of nitrogen in drinking water are harmful for human health (Ward et al 2005) and use of nitrogen fertiliser is the largest source of nitrogen in Indian watersheds (Swaney et al 2015). Existing publicly available data on nitrate contamination in groundwater at the district level were used for this indicator (CGWB 2016). However, key limitations of these data are that they do not indicate what percent of groundwater units are contaminated, nor the level of contamination. Contamination of rivers and streams with agricultural run-off is also a major cause for concern. Low use efficiency, of both synthetic fertiliser or farm yard manure means that nutrients can be leached from the soil, polluting waterbodies and damaging both freshwater and marine ecosystems. However, river basins are spread across multiple states, and state-level data on water quality of all waterbodies, along with source of contamination is currently unavailable.
In the domain of “Biodiversity,” we used the number of crops that cover half of the total cropped area as the indicator. India is one of the most agro-biodiverse regions in the world. However, the introduction of hybrid seed varieties as part of the green revolution has led to the replacement of many indigenous seeds in cultivation (Chaudhuri 2005). While this has increased yields, it has also led to decreased crop diversity and mono-cropping in many states across the country. As a simplified indicator of diversity in the cropping pattern, the number for most-cultivated crops covering 50% of total cropped area in a given year was calculated. For example, if 50% or more of total cropped land is rice paddy, then this indicator would be 1. The Directorate of Economics and Statistics reports cropped area under rice, wheat, maize, millets, pulses, oilseeds, sugar cane, fiber crops and horticulture crops. Various coarse grains (including millets), pulses and oilseeds were considered individual crops and not aggregated. For horticulture crops, fruits, vegetables and plantation crops were considered individually but cropped area under flowers, spices and aromatic and medicinal plants was aggregated. There are several limitations to this indicator, including that it fails to consider the diversity within each crop type.
In the domain of “Efficient Use of Inputs,” we used three indicators: (i) per hectare electricity use in agriculture (kWh/ha), and two proxy indicators of greenhouse gas emissions, (ii) percent area of paddy under irrigation (as a proxy of methane emissions), and (iii) per hectare use of nitrogen fertiliser (as a proxy of nitrous oxide emissions). For agriculture to be resource-efficient, it must also be energy efficient. Consumption of electricity is an important indicator for India since the country is heavily dependent on thermal power (CEA 2018), a major source of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. High use of electricity could also signal low water-use efficiency as the provision of free or subsidised electricity provides most farmers with little incentive to adopt practices to reduce energy use or increase water-use efficiency (Gulati and Pahuja 2012).
Agriculture accounted for 18.3% of national greenhouse gas emissions in India in 2015, primarily methane and nitrous oxide (MoEFCC 2015). This is an underestimate because it does not account for emissions from manufacturing of fertilisers and pesticides. We could not identify state-level agriculture sector emission data within the past 10 years. India’s agricultural emissions inventory reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change calculates emissions from five sources: enteric fermentation, manure management, rice cultivation, agricultural soils and field burning of crop residues. Emissions through enteric fermentation and manure management are dependent on livestock systems, which were not the focus of this study of cropping systems. Crop residue burning accounted for 2% of total greenhouse emissions reported from agriculture but no recent estimate of proportion of residue burned by state were available. Thus, we focused on agricultural soils and rice cultivation.
Agricultural soils are an important source of nitrous oxide. While nitrous oxide is released as part of the natural nitrogen cycle, 83% of total nitrous oxide is from direct emissions.5 The most recent estimate for India, based on 2007 data (Bhatia et al 2013), indicates that the use of synthetic fertiliser accounts for 69% of direct nitrous oxide emissions in India. As no other state-level agriculture emissions data within the past 10 years could be identified, per hectare consumption of nitrogen fertiliser was used as a proxy indicator (Patra 2017). Rice cultivation is an important source of methane due to the anaerobic conditions under which rice is grown. Rice cultivation accounts for 18% of total agricultural emissions and 44.5% of emissions from cropping systems, with irrigated, continuously flooded cultivation of rice being the predominant source (Manjunath et al 2015; MoEFCC 2012). Rice cultivated using single or multiple aerations, or under rain-fed conditions, has significantly lower emissions (MoEFCC 2012). As the recent state-level disaggregated data on rice paddy area under different water regimes is unavailable, total area under irrigated rice paddy cultivation was used for this indicator (Gupta et al 2009; Manjunath et al 2015).
Data Sources and Methodology
Table 2 (p 23) is a summary of the methodology used to calculate each indicator, along with the associated cut-points to categorise states into bins of “poor performance,” “mediocre performance” or “high performance.” Each indicator is chosen to measure performance in a broad domain. The source of data for each indicator is listed along with the publication date. The year of the data is listed in a separate column. Any calculations made by the authors are specified, along with the applicable formulas. All cut-points based on the mean of states were defined as <mean, high performance; mean +1 SD, mediocre performance; >mean +1 SD, poor performance, except for use of farm yard manure, which was defined as <mean, low performance; mean +1 SD, mediocre performance; >mean +1 SD, high performance.

State-level Report Card
A summary of the state-level values and classification (black [poor performance], grey [mediocre performance] and white [high performance]) for each of the eleven indicators is presented in Figure 1. States are organised geographically, approximately north to south, grouped together broadly based on the Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s agroclimatic zones (Sehgal et al 1990). The zones represented in each state are given in the left-most column.

We found strong, scientific evidence of variations in the ecological sustainability of agricultural practices across states in India. Several notable trends emerged. First, states with a higher portion of agricultural area performed worse across indicators. Punjab and Haryana (the “bread basket” of India), with the highest percentage of agricultural land, were characterised by high use of pesticides, low soil organic content, depletion of groundwater levels, a dominant rice–wheat crop cycle, high use of electricity, 100% paddy under irrigation and widespread nitrate contamination of groundwater. Telangana is performing similarly, with over 50% of total agricultural land cultivated with cotton and rice. None of the three states have a farming policy on the books outlining plans for improving the sustainability of practices.
Second, soil health is clearly one of the biggest challenges facing India’s agricultural system in terms of ecological sustainability. Nearly half (14/29; 48%) of the states were characterised by low soil organic carbon and for 38% of states, more than one-fifth of their agricultural land was degraded. Indeed, in Jharkhand, Odisha and Tripura, more than half of agricultural land is classified as degraded. This is likely a result of the terrain and meteorological conditions in these states, such as heavy rainfall concentrated in a few months of the year, characteristic of the Indian monsoon. There is a need to take up special efforts to conserve agricultural soils in these states. In order to replenish soil organic carbon and promote soil health, several sustainable options have yet to be fully explored. For example, the use of farm yard manure was low across states, with only five states using more than 2,000 kg per hectare; so untapped opportunities exist to increase the use of farm yard manure. Reducing burning and incorporation of crop residues can also help increase organic carbon in many states.
Third, states with the highest rate of energy usage and percent of paddy under irrigation (for example, Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab and Haryana) tended to have the greatest groundwater development with the exceptions of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan where energy usage was relatively lower. Importantly, whilst the states of Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh had similar performance in terms of wells classified as “safe” (74%), Uttar Pradesh is drawing a larger percentage of groundwater annually (74% compared to 44% in Andhra Pradesh), indicating greater concern about the sustainability of the state’s aquifers. To address water conservation across states, increased water use efficiency, watershed management and water budgeting, supplemented with a combination of pricing policy, direct transfer to farmers or community-led management of water resources are needed (Gulati and Pahuja 2012).
Only six out of 21 states with data had more than three crops covering half of land area. With government schemes, such as “Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India,” aimed at promoting production and productivity in eastern India (Department of Agriculture and Cooperation 2015), there is a need to ensure effective strategies for crop diversification in the states targeted by the scheme, that is, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, all of which have only one or two crops covering a majority of total cropped area (Figure 1). Several opportunities exist to support crop diversification, for example, India currently imports 60% of its oilseeds (Ghosal 2017), but these could instead be produced domestically.
Nine states had more than 61% of paddy under irrigation, a significant source of methane emissions. With the exception of Odisha and Kerala, all of these states are also seeing low or mediocre performance on groundwater indicators. A shift towards practices like SRI (System of Rice Intensification) (Uphoff 2003), with single or multiple aerations, could have a ninefold reduction in emissions and promote water conservation in these states (MoEFCC 2012). With respect to per hectare use of nitrous fertiliser, a proxy of nitrous oxide emissions, four states with highest emissions were also those with highest proxy emissions of methane: Punjab, Haryana, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Bihar and Uttarakhand also had notably high proxy emissions of nitrous oxide, though relatively low proxy emissions of methane.
The Government of India has been promoting organic farming through various schemes like the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Programme for Organic Production, National Mission for Organic Agriculture and is also implementing a mission to improve the organic value chain in the North East (ASFAC 2016). Other states have also taken steps towards sustainable practices by adopting suitable policies. For example, Kerala’s organic farming policy was adopted in 2009, and is being bolstered by the state’s organic farming scheme (Directorate of Agriculture 2016). Sikkim is the first state in India to be declared fully organic (PTI 2016). Andhra Pradesh has adopted the Zero Budget Natural Farming model of organic agriculture and aims to transition the state’s 6 million farmers into chemical-free agriculture by 2024 (United Nations Environment Programme 2018). Ten states have adopted organic farming policies, but various other states, like Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Chhattisgarh, have declared schemes or missions to promote organic farming. Tripura and Manipur are considering following in Sikkim’s footsteps to be fully organic. However, beyond the adoption of Zero Budget Natural Farming, states also need to take note of decreasing water resources and crop diversity.
Other states like Telangana and Tamil Nadu have draft organic farming policies. Punjab has put in place a statutory body called the “Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission” for the welfare of those dependent on agriculture. The draft farmers’ policy published by the commission takes clear note of the resource constraints being faced by the state, along with the ecological impact of production practices and aims to conserve resources and promote organic farming (PSFC 2018).
Gaps and Suggestions
The data used for this report card are aggregate numbers at the state level, but farm-level numbers are likely to vary substantially within a state for most of these indicators. Survey-based data collection in India is done every five years for agricultural inputs through the Input Survey, and could be expanded and used to collect farm-level data on sustainability in line with the FAO recommended methodology. Like the National Family Health Survey, data collection must become more frequent for timely management and reliable information for policymakers. Seventy-one agricultural universities are recognised across the country by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (Research ICoA 2018), and students can be deployed for more frequent data collection, with the co-benefit of providing valuable field experience. The ability to aggregate data on all sustainability indicators at the block, district and state levels will support decentralised planning and action.
In order to address limitations, particularly related to the specificity and breadth of our indicators, we propose that the following additional data could be collected:
(i) Disaggregated data on type of pesticides (including type and quantity of active ingredient) sold and used (by crop) should be available at the state level. A centrally controlled tracking system, similar to the one used for tracking of fertiliser sales, may be implemented. This would enable the calculation of an Environmental Impact Quotient (Kovach et al 1992) or similar calculation for a more accurate understanding of the health and environmental impact of various pesticides.
(ii) Farm-level estimations of soil health and fertiliser application rates must be paired with information on the recommended use of quantity by crop type. The currently published Soil Health Card data with aggregated soil quality indicators at the state level can also be used to calculate state-level deviation from recommended use of fertiliser (if made available for all crops based on existing nutrient deficiency), but will not be able to capture intra-state, farm-to-farm variability.
(iii) Data published by the CGWB should be updated annually. The most recent available data is from 2013, but the extraction of groundwater may have changed significantly in the past five years. Water Resources Information and Management System of the Andhra Pradesh Water Resources Department is an example of a positive step in this direction for the dynamic measurement and evaluation of water availability through various sources in the state. The portal currently reports changes in groundwater level with a one-year reference, but a longer-term comparison could prove useful for better planning. A similar system to report national, statewise data could prove invaluable.
(iv) As emissions from rice paddy vary based on the type of cultivation, this data must be available at the state level. Currently available data is a national estimate, that is used to calculate India’s emissions inventory reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
(v) Up-to-date disaggregated data on the cropping patterns for the eight smallest states (with total sown area under 5,00,000 ha) is not reported by the National Statistics Office. Availability of this data will allow for the calculation of the proxy indicator proposed in this article.
(vi) As India is one of the most agro-biodiverse regions in the world, a systematic effort to collect and report the diversity in cultivated crops should be taken up. While some universities and research centres across India have made an effort to collect and preserve indigenous crop varieties, cultivation of these diverse varieties could help agriculture in India become more resilient to the risks posed by climate change.
(vii) While the burning of crop residues in the north-west of the country has garnered much attention, the practice is prevalent and perhaps increasing across many other states. Estimates of crop residue burned should be reported by the agricultural departments of each state as a first step towards prevention. Existing estimates show that some amount of burning happens in all states, but is most prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh (Bhatia et al 2013).
(viii) There is currently no data available on practices of intercropping or mixed cropping. Calculating a diversity index at the farm level will help fill this gap in information. The Shannon evenness index proposed by the FAO may also be used if reported at the state level.
(ix) There is evidence to suggest that changing environmental conditions may decrease the nutritional quality of food (Myers et al 2015). Assessments of the nutritional values of food grown in India can be done periodically to monitor the possible impact.
Looking ahead to the future, these report cards should be updated every two years. Several studies have suggested that if states pursue unsustainable paths and continue to deplete soil quality, leading to further degradation of land and water resources, productivity will decline. The ongoing monitoring of agricultural practices through these report cards should lead to better use of on-farm resources, reductions of external inputs and greater cropping diversity, thereby promoting not only ecological sustainability and resilience, but also economic sustainability among farmers in India.
Notes
1 The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana has been launched to insure farmers against such risks. However, increasingly unreliable production has driven up the cost of the premium. Insurance rates for certain crops in Rajashthan, Maharashtra and Telangana have ranged between 30% and 60% of the cost of cultivation, often times more than the profit made by the cultivating farmers.
2 Shannon evenness index is a measure of the composition of species in a given land area. It ranges between zero (indicating no evenness) and one (indicating complete evenness that is, all species counted in the area are equally abundant).
3 Farmyard manure is prepared by putting agricultural wastes in a pit for decomposition and composting.
4 Green manure refers to cultivation of a specific type of vegetation with the intention of ploughing it back into the soil when the leaves are tender and easily decomposable.
5 Calculated from use of synthetic or organic fertilisers, deposited manure, crop residues and compost. “Indirect” emissions are based on nitrogen run-off from fertilised soils.
6 As delineated in Sehgal et al (1990).
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Ghosal, S (2017): “India Still Highly Dependent on Edible Oil Imports: ICRA,” Economic Times, Mumbai.
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Hussain, S (2018): “Averting the Coming Tsunami of Food Stocks,” Tribune, 15 November.
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Jeelani, G (2018): “Farmers Plan March to Parliament Seeking Special Joint Session on Problems,” Hindustan Times, New Delhi, 24 November.
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Myers, S S, K R Wessells, I Kloog, A Zanobetti and J Schwartz (2015): “Effect of Increased Concentrations of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on the Global Threat of Zinc Deficiency: A Modelling Study,” The Lancet Global Health, Vol 3, ppe639-e645.
Patra, N K and Suresh Chandra Babu (2017): “Mapping Indian Agricultural Emissions: Lessons for Food System Transformation and Policy Support for Climate-smart Agriculture,” International Food Policy Research Institute.
PSFC (2018): Punjab State Farmers’ Policy Draft, Chandigarh: Punjab State Farmers’ & Farmer Workers’ Commission, Government of Punjab.
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Purakayastha, T, L Rudrappa, D Singh, A Swarup and S Bhadraray (2008): “Long-term Impact of Fertilizers on Soil Organic Carbon Pools and Sequestration Rates in Maize–Wheat–Cowpea Cropping System,” Geoderma, Vol 144, pp 370–78.
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Sharma, B M, G K Bharat, S Tayal, L Nizzetto, P Čupr and T Larssen (2014): “Environment and Human Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (pops) in India: A Systematic Review of Recent and Historical Data,” Environment International, Vol 66, pp 48–64.
Shiao, Tien, M Andrew, Chris Carson and Emma Loizeaux (2015): “3 Maps Explain India’s Growing Water Risks,” World Resources Institute, https://www.wri.org/blog/2015/02/3-maps-explain-india-s-growing-water-risks, accessed on 11 December 2018.
Soil Health Card ( 2017): Macro Nutrients Status for Cycle i (2015-16 to 2016-17), Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, New Delhi.
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Swaney, D P, B Hong, A Paneer Selvam, R W Howarth, R Ramesh and R Purvaja (2015): “Net Anthropogenic Nitrogen Inputs and Nitrogen Fluxes from Indian Watersheds: An Initial Assessment,” Journal of Marine Systems, Vol 141, pp 45–58.
Hindu (2018): “10 Things to Know About ‘Gaon Bandh’,” Chennai, 1 June.
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Uphoff, N (2003): “Higher Yields with Fewer External Inputs? The System of Rice Intensification and Potential Contributions to Agricultural Sustainability,” International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, Vol 1, pp 38–50.
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Byadmin

Effects of High Tension wires on plants and human beings

If a high tension electric line passes on through the farm land it can have serious impacts on the health of  the crop, animals and human beings  and can also effect real estate value
some more articles
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How HV transmission lines affects humans and plants?


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In such conditions farmers need to be compensated.
The power ministry has issued Guidelines for payment of compensation towards damages in regard to Riqht of Way for transmission lines.
Telangana State Power Regulatory commission also has issued guidelines
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Byadmin

The Four Ways in Which India's Water Blessings Are Turning Into Disasters

https://thewire.in/environment/the-four-ways-in-which-indias-water-blessings-are-turning-into-disasters

India’s water resources establishment, led by the Big Dam ideologues at the Central Water Commission, has ensured that the government doesn’t even acknowledge that groundwater is the country’s water lifeline.

Blessings are complicated. They come with a lot of attachments. And if you cannot manage them, you could invite disasters.
India is a blessed country in so many ways as far as water endowment is concerned. We are blessed with monsoons, rivers, aquifers, the Himalaya, the rich traditional techniques and management systems, to name a few. But the cumulative impact of our mismanagement over the last several decades has now coming out in the form of a many-headed crisis.
Unfortunately, the government treats water management as its exclusive monopoly. To call for a people’s movement for water conservation in such a situation would be disingenuous, to say the least – particularly when the water-resources establishment is doing everything against sage advice. For example, the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project, the government’s top priority among such projects, involves cutting down 46 lakh trees in drought-prone Bundelkhand and facilitate the export of water to other areas. Imagine how much water the 46 lakh trees can harvest.
Or consider this other example: Between April 25 and June 12, 2019, the Bhakra, Pong and Ranjit Sagar dams, on the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers respectively, released over two billion cubic metres of water in non-agricultural season, most of which flowed away to Pakistan. This was of course against the public statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the erstwhile Union water resources minister Nitin Gadkari, both of whom had said not a drop of water would flow out of India’s share of Indus water to Pakistan. Leaving that aside, it is well-known that Punjab and Haryana suffer massive groundwater depletions every year. So why was the dam water not used to recharge groundwater?
This brings us to the following question: so what are some of the key dimensions of India’s water management crisis? There are four.
I. The groundwater lifeline
Most of the water India uses today comes from over 30 million wells and tubewells. Irrigation is India’s biggest water need, and over two-thirds of the irrigated area uses groundwater. About 85% of the rural domestic supply and over 55% of the urban and industrial water supply comes from groundwater, and these numbers have only been climbing for at least four decades now. In fact, some estimates show that over 90% of the additional water that India used since about 1980 has come from groundwater. It sounds like an immitigable blessing. But that’s not how blessings work.
Data from the Central Ground Water Board shows that in about 70% of areas, groundwater is being depleted and in many places, it has been exhausted or is on the verge of exhaustion. Its quality is deteriorating. Warning signs have been visible for decades now, but the government has done little to address the crisis.
In fact, India’s water resources establishment, led by the Big Dam ideologues at the Central Water Commission, has ensured that the government doesn’t even acknowledge that groundwater is India’s water lifeline. That would be the first step. Such an acknowledgement, through the National Water Policy, would mean that India’s water resources policy, plans and programmes will effectively be working to preserve this lifeline.
This would need action on four fronts. First, we need to understand where groundwater recharge happens, and protect recharge mechanisms like forests, floodplains, rivers, wetlands and local water bodies. Second: we need to enhance recharge from these mechanisms where possible. Third: we need to create more recharge mechanisms, including reverse borewells. Fourth, and most importantly: we need to regulate groundwater use.
Such regulation is necessary according to the resource’s location and its contours. Groundwater occurs in aquifers. Aquifers in most places are local, and groundwater use is also local. Ergo, regulation has to start at the local level, enabled by legal, institutional and financial instruments. For cities and industries, this may include pricing mechanisms, with higher price for higher users and an element of cross subsidisation for the poorer people.
Unfortunately, no effective action has been taken on this groundwater regulation front. The Central Ground Water Authority, set up under the Supreme Court’s orders in 1996, has been acting like a licensing body rather than a regulating body. Regulation does not mean you pay and exploit. It would mean restricting and stopping wasteful and unjustified water-use activities in critical areas. Regulation should ensure that water withdrawal is within the limits of annual recharge.
II. The degraded catchments
While Chennai’s water scarcity grabbed headlines this summer, few remembered that only in July 2018, all the dams on the Cauvery, the most important river basin of Tamil Nadu, were so full that water had to be released to the already-flooded downstream rivers. The Mullaperiyar dam provided another bounty to Tamil Nadu in August 2018.
When the Cauvery dams were overflowing around July 24, 2018, the southwest monsoon in the basin was actually below normal. What does this phenomenon – of overflowing dams less than halfway through the monsoon, and when rainfall is below normal, followed by an unprecedented water crisis less than a year later – signify? The answer would be relevant for most river basins in India: that our catchments have a lower capacity to capture, store and recharge rainwater than before. So rainfall in catchment areas is quickly ending up in the rivers and reservoirs, leading to floods during the monsoon but dry riverbeds and water scarcity soon thereafter.
Deforestation, destruction of wetlands and other water bodies, and the declining capacity of the soil to hold moisture, are all contributing to this tragedy. So the way to reverse the scarcity crisis is to reverse all of this.
III. The urban water policy vacuum
The urban water footprint is going up in multiple ways, but the urban water sector is operating in a policy vacuum. Specifically, there are no policies, guidelines or regulations to guide the sector. Under the circumstances, the cities won’t harvest rain, won’t recharge the groundwater, won’t reduce transmission and distribution losses, won’t adopt other demand-side measures, won’t protect its water bodies, and won’t treat and recycle its sewage. Instead, they demand lazy, easy solutions like more and bigger dams, more river interlinking projects and/or massive desalination projects. The government has a Smart City programme but, inexplicably, it is not for water-smart cities.
As a first step towards correcting this situation, India urgently needs a National Urban Water Policy that will define what a water-smart city is and provide best-practice guidelines for various aspects of the urban water sector.
IV. Outdated water institutions
India’s water institutions were established soon after Independence, though some were older They operate with an outdated mindset and within an institutional architecture. An overhaul has been overdue.
The clearest problem with India’s water institutions is symbolised by the fact that we don’t have reliable information about water in India. This is because the Central Water Commission, which heads India’s water institutions, is involved in so many functions that are in conflict with each other. We need an independent institution, along the lines of the US Geological Survey, with the principal mandate to gather all the key water information on a daily basis and promptly place it in the public domain. But such an institute should have no role in water resources development or management.
Similarly, we need a National Rivers Commission to monitor the state of India’s rivers and produce reports and recommendations about what ails these water bodies. Similarly, river-basin organisations will have to be inter-state bodies that develop all the relevant knowledge about the state of the country’s river basins.
Prime Minister Modi, in his Mann Ki Baat on June 30, 2019, the first episode in his second term, highlighted the importance of water conservation and then used the 8% figure: “You will be surprised that only 8% of the water received from rains in the entire year is harvested in our country.” Where does that 8% come from? Modi did not elaborate but India’s annual rainfall is around 4,000 BCM, 8% of which comes to 320 BCM. That is approximately the storage capacity of India’s big dams. However, big dams are not rainwater-harvesting options; they are storage options.
Then again, they aren’t the only or best storage options. Those titles belong to groundwater aquifers, which are benign, naturally gifted, low cost, low impact and efficient. Wetlands, local water bodies and the soil are similarly qualified alternatives. But by mentioning this 8% storage figure, the prime minister is privileging big dams as well as ignoring all the others. And until our water-resources establishment does not get out of this bias for big dams and big projects, there is little hope that our water blessings will not become disasters.
Himanshu Thakkar is the coordinator of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) and a water expert.
Byadmin

Economic Survey Calls for More Efficient Use of Water in Agriculture

https://thewire.in/agriculture/economic-survey-water-agriculture

It says the cropping pattern in India is currently skewed heavily in favour of crops that are water intensive.

The document puts the blame on incentive structure like the minimum support price (MSP) regime, subsidy on electricity, water and fertilisers as contributing factors to the ‘misalignment’ of cropping patterns in the country. The survey has argued that states where land productivity is higher tend to have lower irrigation water productivity.
It has contended that if the current patterns of use of water in agriculture continue, by 2050 India will be in the global hotspot for water insecurity. “Adopting improved methods of irrigation and irrigation technologies will have a critical role in increasing irrigation water productivity along with re-calibrating the cropping patterns,” it said.
Also Read: Economic Survey’s Call for MGNREGA to Become ‘Rural Distress Indicator’ a Nod to Jobs Crisis?
The economic survey has also recommended that a new development strategy should move ahead prioritising “smallholder agriculture in order to promote sustainable livelihoods and for reduction of poverty in India.” It has argued that smaller land holdings will be better at improving resource use efficiency.
The survey also showed that the share of marginal land holdings has increased from 60% in 2000 to 68% in 2015-16. This, the economic survey, sees as an opportunity.
“Devising policies to incentivise farmers to adopt efficient ways of water use should become a national priority to avert the looming water crisis,” the economic survey said.
It has suggested that micro-irrigation systems be used to improve water use efficiency, arguing that states with higher penetration of micro irrigation systems have shown better efficiency in water use and also fertiliser consumption.
Next, the survey recommends that the focus in agriculture should shift from ‘land productivity’ to ‘irrigation water productivity’. It also argues that the use of fertilisers and pesticides needs to be economised. Another recommendation made by the economic survey is to incentivise farmers to move to natural and organic farming.
Currently, India is staring at a water crisis as the monsoon has underwhelmed in its early days. In the month of June, India received 33% deficient rainfall. This comes at the back of a significantly deficient pre-monsoon season, the lowest rainfall in 65 years. In the preceding year, the monsoon had a deficit of 9% in the country, with large parts faring much worse. As a result, early kharif sowing is down almost 15%.
Byadmin

Simplifying Minimum Wage System Will Reduce Inequality: Economic Survey

https://thewire.in/labour/simplifying-minimum-wage-system-will-reduce-inequality-economic-survey

The survey calls for setting up of a National Floor Level Minimum Wage and endorses the Code on Wages Bill.

Citing various complexities in the current system, it makes the case for rationalising and streamlining the system for minimum wages to make it simpler and more enforceable. These complexities include issues like coverage (1,915 minimum wages are defined for various scheduled job categories across various states), lack of a uniform criteria for fixing the minimum wage rate and the fact that “one in every three wage workers in India has fallen through the crack” and is not protected by the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. Domestic workers are covered in only 18 states and union territories.
There’s also the issue of delay in minimum wage revision.
One of the justifications for different levels of minimum wage across states is that they have different levels of economic development. The survey counters this with data showing several advanced and industrialised states with some of the lowest minimum wages.

Analysis of minimum wage data also shows a systemic gender bias. The male-dominated job of security guards pays better than being a domestic worker, most of whom are women. Both occupations are classified as unskilled work.
The survey argues that different minimum wages for the same occupation across different states, in addition to a wide range between the lowest and highest minimum wages, also triggers migration of industries towards low wage regions. This can also cause distress migration of labour to better paying states.
Using the current non-statutory National Floor Level Minimum Wage (NFLMW) – Rs 176 per day – as a benchmark, the survey shows that even in 2018-19, some states have minimum wages even below the NFLMW.
Also read: Economic Survey’s Prescription for Job Crisis? Stop Coddling Old ‘Dwarf’ MSMEs
Even though minimum wages in India have failed to protect the lowest paid workers as compliance has been an issue, a study shows the presence of a “lighthouse effect” – so the minimum wage acts as a benchmark that pulls up wages in the low-paid and informal sector by enhancing the bargaining power of vulnerable workers. This has reportedly led to rise in actual wages.
The survey also acknowledges that “existing wage inequality measured by the Gini coefficient remains very high by international standards” and goes on to add that this inequality has increased among regular workers but decreased among casual workers.
Suggestions include proper designing, clarification of set goals and effective enforcement if the minimum wage system is to play a meaningful role. The survey also says that international experience has shown that simple systems are most effective and complex systems least effective, citing the example of the United Kingdom which abolished its system of industry-wide trade boards in the 1980s and replaced it with a simple national minimum wage.
Also read: Economic Survey 2019 Envisions India Rebounding on the Back of Private Investments
The survey also endorses the Code on Wages Bill, one of the four proposed labour codes to replace the existing 44 labour laws. The Code on Wages Bill seeks to merge the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, the Payment of Wages Act, 1936, the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965 and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 into a single piece of legislation. It also calls for replacing the twelve different definitions of wages in different labour acts to a single definition in the proposed bill.

Some of the major suggestions include setting a NFLMW that can vary across the five geographical regions shown in the figure above. States can then set minimum wages which shouldn’t be less than this ‘floor wage’, bringing more uniformity in the process.
To deal with the coverage issue and further simplify the process of setting minimum wages, the survey suggests “the Code on Wages Bill should consider fixing minimum wages based on either of the two factors viz; (i) the skill category i.e unskilled, semi-skilled, skilled and highly skilled; and (ii) the geographical region, or else both” and for it to be applicable to all sectors and to both organised and unorganised workers.
Additionally, the survey recommends the development of mechanisms to adjust minimum wages regularly and more frequently, and the better and more extensive use of technology and grievance redressal through an easy to remember toll-free number to register grievances on non-payments of the statutory minimum wages.
Byadmin

Economic Survey's Call for MGNREGA to Become 'Rural Distress Indicator' a Nod to Jobs Crisis?

https://thewire.in/labour/budget-2019-economic-survey-mgnregs-aadhaar-direct-benefit-transfer

The survey also conferred a lot of credit on the Centre’s move in 2015 to implement direct benefit transfer and Aadhaar-linked payments when it comes to workers’ wages.

New Delhi: In tacit acceptance of the sudden surge in demand for jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(MGNREGA) following the demonetisation move of the government in 2016, the Economic Survey (released this July 4) has called for using the scheme as an indicator of rural distress.
“Demand for work under MGNREGA may be used to develop a real-time indicator of distress at the granular district/panchayat level,” the survey said.
The survey noted that distress at the level of a district or panchayat is not easy to detect in real-time by using current datasets. Even though the National Sample Surveys (NSS) are carried out at household levels, the results are released “after a gap of almost two years”, thus limiting their use by the government to address rural economic distress.
The survey underlined, “By utilising information on demand for work under MGNREGA and correlating it with other real-time measures of weather etc., that lead to rural distress, a dashboard can be created which flashes ‘alerts’ from areas under local distress to enable policymakers to act in a timely manner to alleviate such distress.”
Also read: Economic Survey’s Prescription for Job Crisis? Stop Coddling Old ‘Dwarf’ MSMEs
From July to December 2016, due to jobs lost by migrant labourers after demonetisation, the demand for employment under MGNREGA rose to an all-time high. An Indian Express report in 2017, quoting from the records of the Ministry of Rural Development, said the demand peaked by over 60%.
“The reverse migration triggered by mounting job losses for informal workers employed in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has translated into an increased demand for work provided in rural India under the employment guarantee scheme. According to officials, December (2016) — by when much of the rabi sowing is over — usually registers a slight increase in demand, but never to the extent that was witnessed last month,” the report noted.
“Data shows that on November 7 (2016), the day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement, 38.52 lakh labourers sought work under MGNREGA. The number fell slightly to 35.60 on December 2 (2017), but thereafter rose through the month and in January (2018), reaching 78.90 lakh on Thursday and 83.60 lakh on Saturday,” it said.

Source: indiabudget.gov.in

The economic survey report also sought an expansion of the definition of the term ‘works’ under the scheme and its regular review keeping in mind the demand curve. Providing an example for such expansions, it said, “Inclusion of de-silting of canals and water bodies in the Water Conservation Mission would enhance their storage capacity and mitigate the frequency of floods.”
The report also batted for improving the skill sets of MGNREGA workers as it would help increase their income and “provide horizontal and vertical mobility to them.”
Calling for interlinking of schemes and programmes meant for rural areas, to help create multiple avenues for income generation and thereby pull more people out of poverty, the survey report said the convergence of MGNREGA with the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana and participation of women self-help groups “needs to be strengthened so that supply of skilled waged labourers increase.”
Also read | Potato Chips and Child Exploitation: A Story of Innocence Lost in Labour
The survey also conferred a lot of credit on the Centre’s move in 2015 to implement direct benefit transfer and Aadhaar-linked payments when it comes to workers’ wages.
“While MGNREGA was made effective in 2006, the streamlining of the programme occurred in 2015 when the government harnessed the benefits of technology. This, inter alia, included the implementation of direct benefit transfer and linking it (with) Aadhar linked payments. It leveraged the Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile (JAM) trinity to credit wages directly into MGNREGA workers’ bank accounts, thereby reducing scopes for delays in payments.”

Source: indiabudget.gov.in

The survey stated that adoption of direct benefit transfers and Aadhaar-linked payments gave “immense credibility” to the experience of increasing effectiveness of the scheme.
However, an independent study, the results of which was released in December 2017 contradicted the government’s claim on speedy disbursal of payments to workers.
Conducted by Rajendran Narayanan from Azim Premji University and two independent researchers, the study that examined 4.5 lakh MGNREGA transactions in 3,603 Gram Panchayats spanning 10 states, highlighted that only 32% of the payment had been done on time. It stated that inadequate allocation of budgetary funds had led to a huge backlog of payment to workers.
“What also needs to be pointed out along with the delay in the payment of wages is that the Centre has calculated the penalty to be paid to the workers for delay beyond 15 days only till the time the FTO (fund transfer order) is prepared. Say, if you work till December 1 and the FTO is prepared five days later, the worker will get compensation only for those five days of delay. However, the days of non-payment after the FTO is readied are not counted even if in many cases they run to months. The Centre is not taking into account the delay on its part. This is in violation of what the Act says,” Narayanan said at a press meet in New Delhi.

Byadmin

Global Organic Food Market To Reach $262.85 Billion By 2022

Indian organic food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 23% by 2023, on account of favorable government policies supporting organic farming coupled with rising land area under organic cultivation.
http://www.businessworld.in/article/Global-Organic-Food-Market-To-Reach-262-85-Billion-By-2022/04-07-2019-172824/
The organic products market in India has been growing at a CAGR of 25 per cent and it is expected to touch ₹10,000-₹12,000 crore by 2020 from the current market size of ₹ 4,000 crore, according to a report produced jointly by Assocham and Ernst & Young.
The Assocham-EY joint study also estimated that the market size for Indian organic packaged food is expected to cross ₹ 87.1 crore by 2021 from ₹ 53.3 crore in 2016, growing at a rate of 17 per cent. A boom in organic product market has already started and the organic food industry in 2019-20 is expected to grow at a good pace. Below are the few factors which are helping in accelerating the growth of the organic food industry:

As per the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India exported organic products worth Rs. 30 billion (over $440 million) in 2017-18, from Rs. 24.77 billion in 2016-17. More awareness and a rise in demand for organic food have helped in increasing sales. Now buyers are more aware of the harmful effects of chemical and pesticides. People have started looking for organic products for themselves and specially for their kids. Also, because of an increase in disposable income and awareness now families are spending more and more on their baby’s well-being and are ready to pay a higher/premium price in terms of quality of the product.

Demographically, India is home to over 110 million babies contributing around 11 per cent of the world population with a high birth rate of 19.3 births per 1000 in a year. Parents always want to give the best to their babies, without compromising on the quality and safety aspects of the product. We can expect more brands with organic products to arrive in the coming years in the baby care category.
A few years back, there were very few organic brands and few product variants were available while now there are many brands available in Tier-I as well in Tier-II cities. With the increase in the availability of organic products to consumers is also one of the factors for an increase in the sale of organic products.
As per APEDA, the demand for Indian organic food products is on the constant increase worldwide and India exported organic products worth $515 million in the financial year 2017-18, from $370 million in 2016-17.  There is a hike in organic product exports in the last year 2017-18 as well which was hiked by 35% compared to its previous year. There is a significant growth expected in 2019 and the coming years.
According to TechSci Research Private Limited report, global organic food market stood at $110.25 billion in 2016 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16.15 per cent, in value terms, during 2017 – 2022, to reach $ 262.85 billion by 2022. Indian organic food market is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 23% by 2023, on account of favorable government policies supporting organic farming coupled with rising land area under organic cultivation.
Online availability of organic food products and shifting consumer preference towards organic food are among the major factors expected to boost demand for organic food products in India during the forecast period. Expanding marketing and distribution channels coupled with an increasing number of health-conscious people is also anticipated to fuel organic food consumption in India until 2022.
While the organic market is growing steadily, it is still far from becoming a mass product. Currently, the organic market is also not consumer driven and only people who can afford/willing to pay the premium price are the buyers which lead to a very small percentage.
One of the major challenges that come in selling organic fruits & vegetable is the mis-management of the supply chain. It becomes difficult to fulfill demand as per requirement. There are various costs associated with procurement of organic FnV from an organic farm of other states in terms of logistics, damages and remaining stock which does not get a premium price.
High price markups for organic products than conventional products are also one of the major factors affecting the sale of organic products. While the high price is because of the cost associated with the product like procuring in bulk, the logistic cost involved in the procurement of organic products from certified organic farms and the distribution within the city increases the cost of the product.
Other factors like perishable items and their low shelf life also cause a problem. In case of organic fruits and vegetables and similar perishable items having low shelf life makes it difficult to supply the product within the time frame of their shelf life and which results in damages, returns, and remaining stock. Also, non-availability of wholesale Mandis like Azadpur market within city limits causes buyers/traders to procure it from the farm only.
Further, lack of trust in organic products of consumers affect sales and people doubt whether organic produce in India is really organic or is it really worth to buy organic products. People are buying only on their trust basis and the earlier consumer had almost no way to check/track whether the products are really produced Organically. But things are changing from the last two to three years and FSSAI has also implemented regulation and guidelines for organic foods from July 2018 and every seller has to follow labelling and other regulations to sell organic products. Also, sellers are now more transparent to their consumers and apart from certification, they are sharing test reports, farm/farmer’s details and access to farms anytime to check/visit.
As the food processing industry is gaining strong ground in India, the sector has high expectations from the government for the upcoming budget. By announcing Sikkim as the first organic state, organic farming & industry in India has received the much-required initial boost in recent years which was lacking earlier. The industry so far has completely been neglected. However, the challenges faced by the organic industry in India are tremendous.
We can expect rationalization of tax rates as that is as high as 28 per cent on some of the food products.
The government should encourage indigenous development of low-cost food-processing equipment, particularly for the micro, small and medium scale enterprises and improvement in the food value chain. The government can likely provide export incentives grant for food processing companies and big support for organic farming.
There should be an increase in the government budget for boosting investment in Food Industry. Support for agriculture infrastructure can be expected to increase. In the last year, the total outlay for institutional credit for Indian agriculture was proposed at Rs. 10 lakh crore which was up from Rs. 8.4 lakh crore from the previous year.

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