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- “In spite of many advantages associated with contract farming, the practice is not very popular in India” Give reasons.
- What is watershed management? Discuss the key challenges that Watershed Management initiatives are facing in India.
- Analyze the merits, demerits, and suitability of various irrigation systems used in India. Also highlight various initiatives taken to increase irrigation cover in India.
Q: “In spite of many advantages associated with contract farming, the practice is not very popular in India” Give reasons. (15 Marks, 250 Words)
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Contract Farming refers to a system of farming, in which bulk purchasers including agro-processing/exporting or trading units enter a contract with farmer(s), to purchase a specified quantity of any agricultural produce (including livestock and poultry) at pre-agreed prices.
Studies by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAOs) show that contract farming can indeed benefit both parties by increasing efficiency, productivity, and farmer’s income, while at the same time giving private player a larger say in farming methods, type and quality of produce.
Advantages of Contract Farming:
- For Buyers it ensures quality product availability and price stability.
- For producers it reduces the risk of fluctuation in market price and demand. Research have shown that contract farmers earn considerably more than non-contract farmers.
- Increases private participation in agricultural reforms.
- Contract farming also improves the quality of input as the producer get support from the buyer in the form of technology, pre-harvest, and post-harvest support etc.
- It reduces the subsidy burden on the government on procurement.
Situation in India
- Despite the above advantages, the Contract farming is not very common in India.
- The 2003 model law provided for contract farming, but it suffered from various limitations including APMCs being designated as authority of registration and dispute; provisions for stockholding limits on produce limited the participation by bigger players and finally poor awareness/publicity about contract farming and its benefits among farmers.
- 2018 Model Law tried to bring some changes but wasn’t very effective.
- 2020 Ordinance and law – withdrawn in 2021.
- This law tried to bring some simplification and protection for farmers but had to be withdrawn because of farmer protests.
While contract farming, if implemented wisely, does have the potentials to alleviate the sufferings of India’s farmers, improved yields, and greater technology transfer, it is imperative that the state government takes a cautious, research backed approach and implements the model law with modifications suitable for the state.
Q: What is watershed management? Discuss the key challenges that Watershed Management initiatives are facing in India. (10 Marks, 150 words)
Watershed is an area of land where surface water drains down to a single point (stream, lake, or ocean).
- Watershed development/management is the treatment of the entire catchment area around the village to ensure conservation and regeneration of natural resources, especially water and its judicious use.
- Watershed development is all about making running water stop and standing water to sink inside. It is the only option for rainfed areas for water conservation and recharge and to prevent soil degradation.
Watershed Development Programs in India: Key Programs
- Integrated Watershed Management Program (now a component of PMKSY)
- National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA)
- Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Area (WDPSCA)
- Watershed Development Fund (WDF)
Challenges that Watershed Management initiatives are facing in India:
- Institutional coordination: Lack of coordination among various agencies and stakeholders hampers effective implementation and management of watershed projects.
- Community participation: Insufficient community involvement and lack of ownership impede the success and longevity of watershed projects.
- Climate change impacts: Increasing climate variability and extreme weather events pose challenges to the planning and implementation of watershed management projects.
- Monitoring and evaluation: Inadequate monitoring and evaluation systems make it difficult to assess the impact and effectiveness of watershed management initiatives.
- Maintenance and upkeep: Lack of proper maintenance and upkeep of infrastructure such as check dams, contour trenches, and bunds undermine the long-term effectiveness of watershed projects.
Watershed management is crucial in India as it promotes sustainable use of water resources, prevents soil erosion, enhances agricultural productivity, improves groundwater recharge, mitigates floods, and ensures long-term ecological and socio-economic benefits for communities and the environment.
Q: Analyze the merits, demerits, and suitability of various irrigation systems used in India. Also highlight various initiatives taken to increase irrigation cover in India. (15 Marks, 250 words)
Irrigation is crucial to ensure that farmers reap the full benefit of better-quality seeds and fertilizers. But, as per ESI 2021-22, only 49% of India’s total cropped area is irrigated. The rest depends on Monsoon rainfall for agriculture. This is the most important factor which makes farming a vulnerable profession.
Different types of irrigation in India: Sources of Irrigation in India can be divided into the following: (i) Wells/Tube Wells (ii) Canals (iii) Tanks, and Others
Wells and Tube-wells:
- They are the most important source of irrigation in India. They are spread over large areas of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu.
Advantages of Well and Tube well Irrigation:
- Simplest and cost-effective way, easily affordable by poor Indian farmers (wells). It is an independent source of irrigation and can thus be used whenever the necessity arises.
- Certain chemicals from ground water such as nitrate, chloride, sulfate etc. are generally found mixed in well water. This can be good for agriculture.
- Only limited area can be irrigated (up to 1 to 8 hectare of land per day)
- Excessive extraction has caused ground water depletion in several parts of the country.
- They contribute to irrigation of around 24% of the irrigated area.
- This includes large areas of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and some parts of southern states.
- Digging of Canals in stony and uneven areas is difficult and unprofitable. Thus, the canals are practically absent from the Peninsular plateau.
Advantages of Canal Irrigation:
- Canals can convert dry regions into fertile territory (e.g., Rajasthan impacted by Indira Gandhi Canal).
- They carry a lot of sediments carried by rivers -> this when deposited in Agri field contributes to soil fertility.
- It’s quite cheap in the long run (initially it can be expensive due to the cost of multipurpose projects etc.)
- Water logging along the canal route: It is caused by soaking on canal water into the ground.
- Land Degradation: Capillary action brings alkaline salts to the surface and makes large areas unfit for agriculture.
- Overflow of canals during rainy season also becomes a reason for floods.
- It is resorted to mostly in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and parts of West Bengal and Bihar.
- A tank act as an irrigation storage system that is developed by constructing a small bund of earth or stones built across a stream.
- Rivers of the south India don’t flow all the year around. Therefore, tanks are constructed for storing water in the rainy season which is subsequently used for irrigation purposes.
- Most of the tanks are natural and not expensive for their construction. Even an individual farmer has his own tank.
- They are generally constructed on a rocky bed and have long life.
- Fishing activities in some tanks add to the food resources and income of the farmers.
- They dry up during the dry season and fail to provide irrigation when it is needed the most.
- Maintenance costs.
- Potential for water contamination if not managed properly.
- It includes Sprinklers, Drip Irrigation, etc. have emerged as the new efficient way of irrigation.
- So far, an area of 137.80 lakh ha has been covered under Micro Irrigation.
- Per Drop More Crop component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY-PDMC): The PDMC scheme focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at farm level through Micro Irrigation viz. Drip and Sprinkler irrigation systems.
Advantages of micro irrigation:
- Efficient water usage as it reduces water wastage.
- Precise targeting of water to plant roots.
- Decreases weed growth.
Disadvantages of micro irrigation:
- Higher installation costs.
- Susceptible to clogging.
- Initial learning issue for farmers.
Various Initiatives to promote increase irrigation cover in India:
- Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program (AIBP) was launched in 1996-97 to provide Central Loan Assistance to states for completion of large and medium irrigation projects which have been stuck for long due to fund crunch. It has now been subsumed under PMKSY (PMKSY-AIBP).
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY) has been operational since 2015 with the vision of extending the coverage of irrigation “Har Khet ko Pani” and Improving water use efficiency “More Crop Per Drop”.
- Promoting water use efficiency:
- To promote micro-irrigation a Micro Irrigation Fund (MIF) with corpus of Rs 5,000 crore was created with NABARD during 2018-19. As of 1st Dec 2021, loans under MIF amounting to Rs 3,970.17 crores have been approved for 12.81 lakh ha of Micro Irrigation area.
- Micro irrigation is also being promoted through the Per Drop More Crop component of PMKSY (PMKSY-PDMC) from 2015-16.
- The Watershed Development Program (now part of PMKSY) also focuses on improving irrigation situation in rain-fed areas.
Irrigation systems in India have played a crucial role in enhancing agricultural productivity, ensuring water availability, and mitigating the impact of rainfall variability. These systems have contributed to food security, rural development, and improved livelihoods for farmers across the country.